Playing in a highly competitive pet food market is challenging, especially for companies that own just one or two brands in the marketplace.
In September 2020, Mars introduced the brand Champ into Mexico. The product line fulfills the nutritional requirements of a particular segment of pet owners who seek affordability. Champ combines a competitive price with a balanced formulation.
According to Alfonso Verduzco, demand director at Mars Pet Nutrition, the new brand has shown rapid results in the traditional channel (markets and mom-and-pop stores) where the company launched the product, as consumers grew the demand after the launch.
Such quick growth reflects the latent market opportunities within pet food, which some producers, including Mars, are currently capitalizing on in the Mexican market. A few months later, Mars launched Champ into the modern channel of supermarkets, hypermarkets, convenience stores, price clubs and discounters. The company is also registering sound results with Champ in that channel.
One key attribute of Champ is the lack of artificial colorants in the kibble. According to Verduzco, the absence of such pigments is part of a macro trend known as healthy living.
As pet owners stayed home to work remotely during the pandemic lockdown, awareness of pet nutrition and health rose, leading to increased demand for more natural and healthier pet food products. Thus, the removal of artificial colorants in the Champ kibble partly responds to such current trends.
Traditionally, the use of colorants in pet food was a producer response to another consumer trend (attractiveness to the owner), yet with no real benefit for pets. Now the removal of certain pet food colorants responds to the interest of a specific group of consumers.
Champ is a pricier brand than Pal, an economy brand of Mars, so it adds to the company’s product portfolio in Mexico, which also includes Pedigree.
Verduzco said that in September 2020, the company renewed and reformulated Pal, improving the formula to include omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat health, plus an additional 16 vitamins and minerals.
The entire portfolio of Mars complies with nutrient requirements suggested by the nutritional guidelines of AAFCO (American Association of Food Control Officials) and Waltham, the Mars research arm.
Iván Franco is the founder of Triplethree International and has collaborated on hundreds of research projects for several consumer goods industries. He was granted the Global Consultant of the Year award by Euromonitor International and authored the book 17 Market Strategies for Growth (in Spanish).
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