As humanization of pets continues, pet food manufacturers need to co-create value in their products to attract and retain consumers, said Evelia Davis, vice president of dog and cat consumables for PetSmart, speaking at Petfood Forum 2016 on April 20.
Pet owners today have more influence on brands and retailers than ever, changing how and where they shop. Since Millenials – the largest group of pet owners – are not brand loyal, pet food companies must show the value of their products to consumers in order to attract and retain them. Pet owners want transparency and trust, Davis said.
How do pet food manufacturers and retailers co-create value for pet parents? Davis said it starts with better understanding customers, including who they are, how they shop and what they value.
“Co creating value is less about selling parents what we think they need, but it’s about engaging with pet parents, getting to know them and recognizing that retailers, suppliers and manufacturers, we can add value,” Davis said. “But remembering that the pet parents are in charge and we have to develop a win-win relationship with our pet parents. You want more than a transactional relationship. You want your pet parents to be passionate advocates for you as a retailer and for you as a manufacturer and for you as a supplier.”
Companies need to develop new, innovative products that address unmet needs and create new habits for pet parents. Pet food companies and retailers need to become “solution providers,” she said, not just sellers of dog and cat food and treats.
Davis also said that it is critical to co-creating value that pet food companies and retailers uphold their values and “do the right thing” in how and where they manufacture products, where ingredients are sourced and how they market to pet parents.
Co-creating value will have many positive results for both companies and their customers, she said.
Pet food manufacturers and retailers will establish credibility and trust with pet parents, which is essential in retaining customers. Additionally, co-creating value will help pet owners to engage and connect with the products, brands and retailers, said Davis; plus, most importantly – help pets and pet parents live more fulfilled lives together.
Petfood Forum 2016 was held April 18-20 at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.