Petfood is for life…

The huge potential sales opportunity in petfood, which is being missed by the convenience store sector, is illustrated by HIM’s Convenience Tracking Programme. It found that 24% of convenience shoppers own a cat and 20% own a dog, yet petfood does not appear in the top 15 purchased categories in the convenience sector. This is an area that wholesalers are also missing out on. Of the 3,075 retailer customers questioned for the Cash Carry Tracking Programme only 74% sold petfood. In addition the average actual spend on petfood is pound;51 against the intended average spend of pound;68, representing a slippage of 33% on spend. The main reason for the failed purchase was being out of stock. There seems to be a gap in the market which wholesalers would do well to take advantage of.

Despite the stable number of pets in the UK the demand for petfood continues to grow. Mintel reports that there is a growing tendency to humanise pets and treat them as another child or family member. This has had an impact on how much consumers are prepared to spend on their pets. Encouraging this trend are the ranges of petfood now available with specific meals for kittens and puppies, adult ranges and also ‘senior’ products.

Andrew Harding, customer development director at Nestlé Purina Petcare, attributed this to “owners becoming more aware of the benefits of feeding their pets correctly in accordance to lifestage or lifestyle, as well as consumers having more disposable income.”

Nestlé Purina’s research shows 40% of convenience shoppers own a pet, but 6 out of 10 pet owners never buy pet food from a convenience outlet. Harding says this has mostly been attributed to consumers’ preferred brand either not being prominently displayed within the store, or simply not being in stock. “This is an area where wholesalers can look to increase profits simply by ensuring they stock popular brands in a variety of formats.” Harding points out: “The findings also revealed that shoppers want to buy the same brands and pack formats when they do their top-up shop in convenience stores as they do when buying their main shop at supermarkets. So it is important that retailers focus on the leading brands, supported by highly visible marketing campaigns.”

Within the petfood category there are other trends with the wet cat food market seeing a big switch from the 400g can to single serve pouches and foil trays. The new packaging provides convenience with the single serve cat food being one of the fastest growing formats.

Harding comments: “The total single serve market has grown by pound;27m over the last year.”

Another area of growth is in multi-packs. Shoppers can pick up multi-packs in supermarkets and will want to buy the same product on top up visits to convenience stores. Stocking up on the multi-packs is of particular importance to wholesalers, to encourage shoppers to purchase their petfood in independent stores, by making sure they provide the products the consumer wants.

There is also a continuing shift from wet to dry foods with consumers becoming aware of the health and convenience benefits of feeding dry food. Harding says: “Winalot Adult Complete offers consumers the added convenience of dry food in larger pack sizes. Aimed at the adult dog it is an ‘all in one’ nutritionally complete dry food, with meat, vegetables, added minerals, vitamins, essential oils and fats.”

Complete dry cat food is also an important sector. “Over the past 12 months Go-Cat has experienced continued sales growth,” Harding comments. He adds: “Wholesalers play a vital role in ensuring that retail outlets are able to offer owners what they want and consequently are pivotal in Nestlé Purina’s ability to reach the market.”

Masterfoods research has identified that nearly half of all households in the UK own a pet. It has noted that over the last six years pouches have gained in success and account for 50% of all Whiskas sales in grocery stores, but only 5% among independent retailers. Sold in singles, four packs and 12 packs, pouches take up less shelf space than cans making them easy to store. While the cat food market has seen pouches sales exceeding those of cans, pouches are also proving popular with dog owners. Many pet owners prefer them as they are convenient and provide a fresh meal every time.

More and more pet owners are trading up on their average pet food purchase, so stocking a choice of sizes is a good idea. Offering a range of multi-packs also encourages multi purchase. People want to treat their pets and giving them special ‘premium’ meals is a way to do this.

Snacks and treats are another area of growth with sales growing by pound;7m in 2004. This is an area of impulse purchase with dog treats being a major contributor.

Many people consider pets to be part of the family and remain loyal to brands they know and trust. With advertising suggesting that pets know the difference between what food they are given, and have a preference for one over the other, it is important to represented and displayed major brands.

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=== easy 4 you ===

Masterfood has launched Easy 4 You in cash and carries, an initiative to help retailers make the most of petcare products by bringing together the optimum range of petfood lines into a single easy to use fixture. Easy 4 You has identified the top 19 petfood brands.

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=== top 19 brands identified by easy 4 you are: ===

1. Bakers Comp Dog Beef/Veg 1.5kg

2. Butchers Tripe Mix 800g

3. Cesar Ckn/Turkey Alu CIL 150g

4. Felix CIJ Tuna 400g

5. Felix Foil Cod/Haddock 100g

6. Felix Pouch Mixed CIJ M/Pk 12x100g

7. Go-Cat Tuna/Herring/Veg 375g

8. Ped Rodeo Dog Treat Chicken 70g

9. Pedigree CIL Orig 400g

10. Pedigree Dentastix Dog Chews 180g

11. Pedigree Mixer 630g

12. Pedigree Original 1200g

13. Pedigree Pouch Ckn CIJ 300g

14. Sheba Turkey/Chicken 100g

15. Thomas Cat Litter 8ltr

16. Whiskas CIL Rabbit 390g

17. Whiskas Pouch Chicken CIJ 100g

18. Whiskas Pouch Fav M/pk 12x100g

19. Winalot Chicken CIJ 400g

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=== support for retailers ===

Nestlé Purina has suggested a few easy tips for small format fixtures where space is at a premium.

l Give petfood a priority position in the store and use clear shelf edge labels to make identifying products as easy as possible. If shoppers can’t see the range they won’t buy it.

l Use point of sale to highlight new products and promotions. This helps shoppers decide to buy in the convenience store rather than elsewhere.

l Ensure that you have enough shelf space for the fastest selling products; consumers are very brand loyal and will not hesitate to shop elsewhere if their preferred product is not available.

l Clearly separate cat and dog, making sure that different types of petfood are well segmented. This makes it much easier for the shopper to see what to buy.

l Stock only the best selling ranges across cat and dog – most of these are not the traditional economy ranges. This way there is bound to be something that meets everyone’s needs.

l Place premium products, such as Nestlé Purina’s Gourmet, at an easy to reach level and larger packs like Bakers Complete on the bottom shelves.

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