In the pet food industry, it’s a given that the purchaser of pet products must be taken into consideration just as much as the pet consuming said products. At SuperZoo 2015, that dual consideration was on full display in the combination of new packaging that blended eye-catching graphics, prominent informational panels and the latest in convenience packaging technologies.
Solid Gold Pet, a holistic pet food company, maximized their marketing strategy in their new packaging design, which they highlighted at SuperZoo as part of their new brand identity. “It’s always risky to redesign your brand image, but [our] old logo doesn’t effectively communicate the spirit and progressive essence of our brand,” said Michael Stoeckle, vice president of corporate strategy for Solid Gold. “The new look is fresh and modern. It’s simple, confident, approachable and fun. It captures the intensity and fearless spirit of who we are.”
Courtesy Solid Gold Pet
Everything in Solid Gold’s redesign, from its bold color palette to the company history included on the bags, is aimed towards catching the consumer eye on the store shelf.
The new packaging aims to immediately catch the eye on the pet food shelf, with each package featuring a colorful geometric illustration in a kaleidoscope of contrasting colors. In addition, the new design highlights the history of Solid Gold as a company, and includes formula descriptions, nutritional information and a focus on GoldSource Core Nutrition, a proprietary blend of 11 nutrients and the foundation for Solid Gold’s dry pet food formulas.
“Consumers are becoming more health conscious and that means that their pets are becoming healthier, too—that’s a good thing,” said Stoeckle. “To connect to this growing new breed of pet lovers, we had to break through the clutter of package ‘sameness’ that continues to clog pet retail stores.”
Plato Pet Treats also displayed some new packaging at SuperZoo, focusing on repackaging a current product in a way that maximizes its shelf potential. The company’s Thinker Sticks, which come in 10 oz. and 22 oz. bags, have now additionally been packaged for individual sale. “We have had [retail outlets] selling our Thinker Sticks in individual units as bulk for years, opening up our larger 22 oz. bags and filling jars or buckets with the product in single-unit form,” said Andrew Horn, national sales manager, pet specialty, for Plato. “We decided to launch this program with individual units packaged in shelf-stable sealed sleeves with a nutritional analysis, ingredient deck and barcode. Stores can now track sales of these items via UPC, and the product will stay fresh longer as they are sealed in a sleeve and flushed with nitrogen for freshness.”
Courtesy Plato Pet Treats
Plato hopes that this new, individualized packaging, convenient for impulse and on-the-go purchasing, will serve as a gateway for consumers to later pick up the product’s 10 oz. or 22 oz. bags.
The benefits of such packaging are significant, according to Horn, including an attractive price point (MSRP is US$1.89 per unit) and the advantage of impulse purchasing. “We are able to encourage new customers to try our products for a minimal cost ahead of buying a larger bag on the shelf,” said Horn. “In addition, these individual sticks are a great impulse buy. Many consumers bring their pets to pet stores and grooming shops; this individual Thinker Stick is an easy way to treat your dog right then and there, without having to buy a whole bag.” The actual counter display that holds the individual Sticks is a marketing tool in its own right, said Horn, not only displaying the treats, but providing information on the product and brand.
Castor & Pollux, a Merrick Pet Care brand focusing on organic and natural pet food formulas, had customers front-of-mind when redesigning its Organix packaging (also highlighted at SuperZoo), merging marketing with convenience and including packaging technology in the process. “We’re optimizing our Organix line to improve pet parent experience with our packaging, as well as to further underscore the brand’s position as a high quality choice of premium, organic pet food,” said Mark Sapir, vice president of marketing for Merrick.
Courtesy Merrick Pet Care
The new Organix packaging was created to stand out on store shelves as well as promote accomplishments such as organic certifications and Non-GMO Project verification.
“Not only do the new Organix bags and cans reflect a more premium design and finish, but we’ve also made some key call outs—like appetizing protein and ingredient imagery, more prominent communication for Made in the USA, organic certifications and Non-GMO Project verification on select recipes, and clear icons to convey recipe benefits—that we know are important to pet parents when deciding which pet food to buy,” he said. “We’ve also made additions inside the bag in keeping with our premium offerings, including an improved Velcro closure and moisture barrier to lock in freshness.”
Wellness Natural Pet Food (WellPet)’s new packaging for its TruFood line brings together the consumer eye, convenience and sustainability through technology, something the company made sure to accent at SuperZoo. The new bags offer a “nutrition you can see” packaging window with the goal of making sure consumers can see exactly what they’re getting, according to Carly White, digital marketing specialist for WellPet. “Wellness TruFood is made with whole food ingredients,” said White. “In Baked Blends dog recipes, the Trilogy Blend includes living superfood nuggets, whole-prey protein bites and air-dried vegetable and fruit pieces. The bright colors in the food come from powerful antioxidant sources such as beets and blueberries. The whole-prey protein bites are made with 70% more raw protein than most other pet foods.” One good way to show off all this information in an at-a-glance, appealing way, said White, was through a window that reveals the bag’s contents.
Courtesy Wellness Natural Pet Food
WellPet’s new packaging combines on-shelf marketing opportunities with convenience technology and consumer conscience.
WellPet also took advantage of Velcro technology in its new packaging, using a Velcro Press-LOK closure for its dog and cat food bags in order to maximize convenience of handling and longevity of product freshness.
The company used its new packaging to delve into sustainability technology, as well, pairing consumer conscience with practicality as the first US-based company to make its packaging nationally recyclable through a partnership with TerraCycle. “We’re very excited for our partnership with TerraCycle,” said Chanda Leary-Coutu, WellPet’s senior manager, marketing communications. “Many of our consumers embrace a green lifestyle, and we’re happy to offer an easy way for them to recycle their pet food packaging, something we know is important to them.”
WellPet consumers earn money for the TruFood packaging they recycle through TerraCycle’s Wellness Pet Food Brigade. For each pre-paid shipment of TruFood bags weighing at least two pounds, Wellness Brigade members earn points that can be used for charity gifts or converted to cash and donated to charities of their choice. The collected packaging will be recycled into a variety of new consumer products such as park benches, bike racks, pet food bowls and recycling bins. WellPet is also partnering with TerraCycle Canada to operate a similar program.
It’s clear that pet food packaging is more than the sum of its parts. As one of the first marketing points potential customers see, packaging can provide multiple opportunities to make a sale through presentation and education. In addition, the use of convenience-enhancing technologies and anything with an eye towards pleasing consumer conscience can make a product stand out among its competitors. As always, when there are packaging decisions to be made, consumer trends reign supreme.
More on pet food packaging
Lindsay Beaton is the editor of Petfood Industry magazine and the author of "Trending: Pet Food," a weekly pet food industry blog. Email her at email@example.com.
New shelter data casts doubt on whether the pet population and pet ownership are truly growing.
While the pandemic caused unprecedented suffering worldwide in 2020, the disruptions to dogs, cats and other pets adoption numbers may normalize in 2021.