Understand top trends to drive pet food brand growth

Claire Obertin with Cleveland Research will delve into how consumer survey insights and industry forecasts can improve company and retailer relationships during her educational session at Petfood Forum this spring.

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Cat In Chewy com Box Andrea Gantz
Andrea Gantz

Today’s pet food and animal health retail space is crowded and growing exponentially. How can a company stand out in this crowded field that’s constantly changing? Claire Obertin, market research associate with Cleveland Research, stays on top of trends through consumer survey insights and industry forecasts, which is key to cultivate best business practices and retailer relationships and rise to the top.

“At Cleveland Research, we work directly with top brands in the pet and animal health space to identify what trends they are seeing within their brands and aggregate these themes into our industry leading insights,” said Obertin. “We also work with a consumer panel of about 1,200 pet parents to identify key inflections in shopping behaviors within the category.”

Obertin will note in her presentation on April 30 at Petfood Forum in Kansas City, that understanding where your company fits into the current state of the pet retail industry – backed by consumer survey insights and industry forecasts – can help you implement identified best practices and improve retailer relationships.

“Our team works with hundreds of brands in the pet industry across retail channels,” she said. “This allows us to glean best practices, key inflection points and insights in the pet food space in real time.”

 Two trends: eCommerce and smaller budgets 

At this moment, Obertin noted she is seeing strength in mass merchandisers, specifically Walmart, as well as eCommerce sites like Amazon and Chewy, as pet consumers look to value-oriented retailers when making pet food purchases.

Cleveland Research sees this trend continuing throughout 2024 and into 2025 as mass and eCommerce retailers make meaningful investments into their pet food offerings.

“This requires pet food brands to have an omnichannel strategy,” said Obertin. “They need to engage with pet parents both in store and online, articulating their value propositions and addressing key consumer concerns like food quality, health, nutrition and value.”

Another trend she noted was seeing consumers budgeting their pet food purchase. They are looking to trade down in pack sizes – still very brand loyal – but with less appetite for an overall bag spend, she said.

“Interestingly, we see the fresh/frozen/raw food growth relatively inelastic, with strong growth projections for these premium consumers in 2024,” she explained.

By understanding consumer behavior and the overall industry forecasts, brands can properly allocate resources, adjust strategies and partner with key retailers to drive growth.

3 best practices for your brand to succeed

Cleveland Research partners use the relationships and subsequent data as a pulse check to ensure they are allocating resources correctly, engaging in effective promotional strategies, and forecasting in line with the industry, said Obertin.

“We do channel work within the industry continuously, always adjusting our forecasts and outlooks based on what we are hearing,” she said.

Below are three best practices Obertin suggested to help brands succeed in today’s fast-paced pet food space.

  1. Invest with winners. Prepare internal leadership for ongoing investment requests even as sales growth likely slows. The largest accounts are looking to leverage momentum for incremental funding in 2024.
  2. Promotions. The promotional environment in 2024 is expected to intensify. Be able to support why returning to a high/low promotional cadence or everyday low pricing (EDLP) investments are best for your brand.
  3. Articulate value. Across channels, pet owners are seeking value when shopping for their pets, whether it’s hardgoods, consumables or prescriptions, the consumer needs to understand your brand’s value statement. 

“Sharing information with experts in the pet food industry is what I do every day – whether that be through presentations like this, published work, webinars, podcasts, etc.,” said Obertin. “I look forward to engaging with the Petfood Forum audience to expand upon the Pet Insight Council’s reach as I share our insights and key takeaways for 2024.”

Claire Obertin, market research associate with Cleveland Research Co., will speak at Petfood Forum on Tuesday, April 30, in Kansas City. Her session, Tracking pet consumer and retail trends, will help attendees better understand how consumer survey insights and industry forecasts can help implement identified best practices into their companies and retailer relationships. For more information, visit petfoodforumevents.com.

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