When pet owners talk about pet products on social media certain terms and themes emerge. Likewise, when pet food companies describe their products on e-commerce sites, marketers use specific terms and follow definable trends. Identifying related themes among pet owners’ attitudes and pet food brands’ products may help pet food marketers and formulators develop new products and promote the ones they have. Analysts with Skai, a commerce intelligence platform, examined social media feeds and pet food e-commerce websites to identify those common denominator terms.
One observation by these analysts was that consumers value pet food affordability, but few brands advertise it. Part of the reason for this may be that premiumization has been a strong driver of pet food sales value growth worldwide. Advertising affordability may contradict a premium image. The data pointed to potential strategies to address this.
Pet food brands can explore the trade-off of premium and affordable by looking at associations among themes, Chris Costello, senior director of marketing research with Skai said. Discussion of affordability was associated with all-natural themes, but within the context of comparison to non-natural alternatives. Considering that, articulating that affordable/premium trade-off could involve a natural pet food company, which may be at a higher price point, finding opportunities in affordability.
Digestive health and grain-free pet food discussed by pet owners
To find correlations among themes, like natural and affordability, market analysts use the data they collected from social media and e-commerce to identify benefits and features of pet food products. Each month, this averages 80,000 new data points per month. Their pet data covered the 24 months preceding July 2021. The analysts used computer programs, known as machine learning algorithms, to classify the content and gauge the volume of discussion about a particular topic. Analysts can then observe which of these themes work in combination with each other and provide and overall view of where the conversation is going.
Within the pet food conversation, digestive health is the most discussed benefit among social media discussion posts. Likewise, grain-free was the most talked about attribute related to digestive health. While dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) correlated to the grain-free discussion, the amount of conversation has been declining since 2019 with occasional spikes, Costello said.
Pet food companies can use this data to understand what brands are talking about and what consumers are talking about, Costello said. Brands can look at what the competition is doing. Who is the most talked about in grain free, for example. That market intelligence helps a pet food brand orient to the space and know how consumers see a brand relative to competitors. Similarly, they can see what ingredients are being talked about and who’s including them.
“A lot of it is understanding the gaps and where a company stands as a brand,” Costello said.
Pet food customer demands now follow human food demands, changing which ingredients dog and cat food manufacturers purchase. Pet food ingredient commodity buyers can learn what these future demands might be at Petfood Forum.
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