Woof it up!

The petcare market is a vital one for many wholesalers’ customers. Research by him! shows that on average petfood shoppers visit c-stores more often than non petfood shoppers and spend more on each visit. In addition it appears to be fairly recession proof with owners unwilling to compromise on what they feed their pets, and there is a trend towards premiumisation and giving pets more treats, which can produce higher margins for retailers.

Mars Petcare provides advice for independent retailers and has pin-pointed two main areas where they are underselling compared to the overall market. It suggests that independents need to stock more multipacks, particularly in canned dog food, and that they need to switch to stocking more cat pouches versus canned food.

This year Mars will be investing in several of its main products, including packaging changes to make it easier for retailers shopping in cash and carries.

In June, Pedigree will be launching ‘Good Honest Food’, a campaign with more than £7m marketing support, key packaging re-designs and recipe upgrades. Pedigree’s core range will see a major packaging redesign which is intended to significantly improve its on-shelf presence including a new modern logo and uncluttered design. Underpinning the ‘Good Honest Food’ campaign will be eight new nutritional promises including the removal of artificial flavours and colours, plus no added sugar in dry product and no preservatives in wet product.

Marketing activity for Whiskas will focus on ongoing reassurance around the quality of the Whixskas product, an improved taste that cats prefer, and packaging that makes it easier for consumers to find what they are looking for on the fixture.

Whiskas’ 12-pack pouch product has had a re-design and recipe upgrade, including two new price-marked packs which will launch this month. Wayne Tessier, trading director, Mars Petcare, says: “The Whiskas pouch re-design makes it easier for retailers to find the right product at wholesale. Key information on the product has been blocked together and packs are colour coded to make it easy to find different varieties.”

In the snacks and treats category, he says growth is heavily driven by new product innovation and last year Pedigree delivered 50% of total NPD value sales.

This year, Pedigree’s focus in convenience will be on its core range. Snacks and treats will have an £8m total marketing investment in 2009, including significant TV advertising for Dentastix and Jumbone and promotional activity for Jumbone with the film Marley amp; Me.

Other Mars petcare brands will see packaging re-designs this year including Whiskas Dry, Chappie and Kitekat. Additionally, Cesar and Sheba will have new multi-buy deals available.

Butchers says the wholesale sector is an important part of its business and has seen growth ahead of the rest of the market. However, it suggests wholesalers are mainly focused on margin and price in this sector, and need to be more POS, picture and USP oriented to educate the retailer.

Within the wholesale sector wet canned dog food and Alutrays are its main categories, and the largest volume SKUs are mainly price-marked packs and single cans.

It says SKUs such as Classic cat food in cans, price marked at 45p, Butcher’s 1200g cans price marked at £1.49, and Butchers 400g cans 63p PMP give shoppers the reassurance of the brand at very competitive prices.

According to IRI, for the 52 weeks ending February 2009, Butcher’s cans had a 24.1% share of the independent sector and Butcher’s Choice Alutrays hold 10.8%.

It says its telesales, field sales, and attendance at trade shows reflect its commitment to the wholesale sector and it will be concentrating on both targeted and bespoke promotional programmes.

The company is looking to raise its profile generally, with Butcher’s Choice going on TV for the first time with eight idents on each episode of Channel 4’s Paul O’Grady show. Sponsorship is running five nights a week for eight weeks during April and May.

Andrew Harding, customer development director of Nestlé Purina’s retail sales, says: “We believe in ensuring that we offer cash and carries and their retail customers an objective perspective of the market, to enable them to enhance their petfood category offering to shoppers and improve their store performance.

“We have worked with cash and carry customers to enhance their product offering and provide information in the aisle which enables their customers to make informed choices when shopping for products. From this we have seen depot sales increase between 10% and 15%.”

He says stocking the right range is probably the largest single thing a shop owner can do to maximise the potential from their petfood fixture and increase their sales across the store.

But promotions can often be a distraction to this key principle and it is important that retailers understand what their customers are buying elsewhere.

Often ranges stocked represent the market of years gone by and therefore shoppers will not visit the store or will leave to buy elsewhere to find the products they really want.

He adds: “We have many examples where we have worked closely with cash and carries and their retail customers to increase a retailer’s petfood sales by as much as 40% or more. If any cash and carry or retailer would like to discuss the opportunity to increase their sales then they can contact Nestlé Purina free on 0800 1412343 to book a consultation and fixture relay.”

Nestlé Purina’s top selling products within impulse are Felix Pouch Mixed multi pack 12x100g, Bakers Beef 1.5kg and Bakers Chicken and Vegetable 1.5kg.

The Organic Pet Food Company is a new player in the market looking to capitalise on the trend towards premium products and environmental awareness with a new range of certified organic, traditionally baked treats and biscuits for dogs and cats.

Rozanne Gallon, co-founder and director of The Organic Pet Food Company, says: “Owners are increasingly looking for good healthy food choices for their animals and are frustrated by the limited range of choices available for their pets. Families want their pets to have the best chance of long, healthy, happy lives, and they know what a vital role nutrition plays in this.”

The Organic Pet Food Company’s recipes include ingredients with beneficial vitamins and minerals, without the addition of preservatives, additives, salt or sugar. The range comes in different sizes from training treat Minis, to Jumbo biscuits, and includes flavours such as: sun-dried tomato, spinach amp; herb; cinnamon honey; banana (with glucosamine amp; green tea); mint herb; and gluten free low-fat carrot amp; apple.

Gallon adds: “We set out to make products that deliver real added value and health benefits, so we have worked with pet nutritionists to develop the range to offer the optimum, balanced nutritional content.”

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