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Petfood professionals could be forgiven for not paying much attention to announcements like the very admirable one this week from Solid Gold Pet, which said it will be donating an estimated US$500,000 of premium petfood to selected US pet charities through a partnership with Petco. After all, most petfood manufacturers (if not all) regularly donate petfood, money, employee time and other resources to pet-related causes. The same is true of suppliers to the industry as well as pet retailers and other pet-related companies.
Our industry’s support of the overall pet community seems almost a given, considering that many petfood companies are started by people inspired by their love of a particular dog or cat, or of pets in general. I would wager that’s the reason many other people seek or remain in jobs at petfood companies, suppliers and related organizations.
In addition to that inspiration, giving back is good business. According to the 2013 Cone Communications Social Impact Study, 89% of US consumers say they’re likely to switch brands to one associated with a cause, if price and quality are comparable (reported by Cause Marketing Forum). In another report, 2014 Nielsen Doing Well by Doing Good, 55% of global respondents said they would pay extra for products and services from companies showing commitment to social and environmental causes. The percentage reached 63% to 64% in the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Middle East/Africa regions. (It was 42% for North America and 40% for Europe.)
A new e-book from Market Research (parent company of Packaged Facts), How Cause Marketing Helps Pet Retailers Connect, says almost 75% of consumers would recommend a brand that supports a good cause and that 47% have actually purchased a brand at least monthly that supports a cause—a 47% increase from 2010. Not surprisingly, companies are responding to this increasing demand, with cause sponsorship projected to hit US$1.92 billion this year, up 3.7% from US$1.85 billion in 2014, according to the IEG Sponsorship Report. The 2014 figure represented an increase of 3.9% from the year before and 9% of all sponsorships last year.
That data certainly includes contributions from petfood players big and small. Market Research’s e-book gives examples of the foundations, charitable programs and similar cause campaigns from petfood companies and brands (Nestlé Purina PetCare, Rachael Ray’s Nutrish, Natural Balance Pet Food, Newman’s Own Organics, Darford, Nutro), as well as ones from pet retailers, pet product companies and even companies outside the pet care industry.
These companies, like Solid Gold and Petco, are hardly alone in their altruism. Just over the past two months alone, you could find many news stories on PetfoodIndustry.com about similar contributions: Dogswell donating 15,000 pounds of petfood at an adoption event, Trouw Nutrition (an ingredient supplier) donating to K9s for Warriors, Caru Pet Foods donating petfood to Chicago animal rescue groups, Three Dog Bakery raising funds for military service dogs, Royal Canin and the Banfield Charitable Trust teaming to launch a holiday petfood drive, Wellness Pet Food donating cat and dog food to shelters in critical need in support of the Jackson Galaxy Foundation.
The list could go on and on, seeming to refute comments and opinions you might read on the Internet that petfood companies are “only in it for the money.” Of course, these companies want and need to make money, but they’re also comprised of people who, for the most part, genuinely love and care about pets.