The pet industry is expected to maintain a steady pace of growth, increasing by 33% over the next five years to US$67.7 billion in 2016, according to Mintel. Pet industry trends mirror the same trends and innovations in human markets, such as those in food quality and social media, according to Fiona O'Donnell, senior analyst at Mintel.
"While humans are not the end user of pet products, they are the ones making the purchase decisions, so it make sense that product are developed with humans in mind as much as animals,” O’Donnell said.
“Functional” foods have become popular with American consumers as they promise better health benefits. According to the Mintel Global New Product Database, petfoods that also claim to be "functional" have increased by 130% over the period from 2006 to 2010.
Social media sites that allow visitors to share animal stories, post pet pictures and interact with other animal lovers are becoming an important marketing tool for petfood companies, O'Donnell said. Some example are Purina ONE’s Facebook page promotion, in which the brand donates a dollar to homeless pets in its shelter network each time a consumer views a Purina ONE Beyond video posted on the page. Pedigree uses Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in its social media efforts, along with a smartphone website with pet product and pet-related information. In its marketing campaign, Fancy Feast uses a combination of traditional marketing in its "the best ingredient is love" themed commercial, which then draws consumers to the Fancy Feast Facebook page to help the couple in the commercial plan their wedding day.
“Overall, their marketing effort is a good integration of traditional TV advertising joined with an online initiative,” O’Donnell said. “As of September 2011, the Fancy Feast Facebook page had more than 72,000 fans and appears to have achieved its goals of increased engagement.”