Every year the Latin American pet food industry witnesses the launch of new brands and hundreds of new product varieties. Yet, just a few exhibit an appeal to consumers and exert influence in the market. The remaining pet food brands are less noticeable, as they use few advertising and marketing tools. Such brands prefer to compete using low prices, leaving behind the proven power of branding.
Branding is essential to increase awareness and expand influence on bigger audiences. It is not a secret that stronger brands invest more in marketing activities while smaller brands don’t.
According to Ricardo Vizcaya, a commercial consultant to the pet food industry in Latin America, the leading pet food brands are usually consumer centric. In other words, their commercial strategy focuses on pet owners. These brands rely on consumer research to identify pet owners’ beliefs, their bonds with their pets and their perceptions of the importance of commercial pet food in pet nutrition. Such knowledge provides a competitive advantage to pet food market leaders.
On the other hand, the rest of the competitors likely focus their commercial efforts on optimizing retail sales space, such as seeking optimal shelf exposure, improving their commercial contracts with the retail chains and differentiating from competitors by marking low prices.
Therefore, most Latin American pet food markets share a similar competitive environment, with the dominance of few market leaders and many unnoticed brands that compete with low prices.
According to Vizcaya, pet food companies that wish to build a strong brand and increase their market share in higher-price segments should invest in consumer panel research to identify how to differentiate and shape a brand with a unique value proposition.
Meanwhile, there is a sizable base of customers willing to pay less for inexpensive pet food products. Vizcaya believes that companies may prefer to focus on the growing base of consumers who appreciate value-added pet food products as this segment may become an increasingly attractive market in the coming years.
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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