SuperZoo 2018: Trends and tactics from the show floor

‘Business as usual’ prevailed, but there were a few interesting notes from the New Product Showcase

Beaton Headshot New Headshot
photo by Murdock2013 |
photo by Murdock2013 |

Much of SuperZoo 2018 was business as usual this year, particularly coming just three months after Global Pet Expo. Pet food and treat manufacturers were introducing many of the same products to the show’s West Coast audience that they highlighted for Global’s East Coast attendees back in March. A stroll through the New Product Showcase saw few surprises: grain-free formulations, single-ingredient treats with a choice protein, pumpkin as a highlighted ingredient (‘tis the season!) and premium/superpremium offerings made up what has become the standard mix in such areas of industry trade show floors.

It was, perhaps, the expectedness of the new products that made one particular trend stand out all the more: a few companies have decided to highlight their protein options using a color wheel-type graphics structure.

Making a packaging standard a front-line feature

Strategic coloring is not a new tool in the packaging/marketing arsenal, particularly in the pet food industry. For all manufacturers’ desires to brand their products and get their names in front of pet food customers, it’s fairly common to walk down a pet food aisle and hear a customer say something to the effect of, “I don’t know which formula it is, I just know it’s the blue bag!” Because of that tendency, it’s standard for packaging discussions to include conversations about how to make the bags “pop” on store shelves. Obviously, color is the primary way to get the desired result.

At SuperZoo, it seems some companies are taking that conversation one step further and turning a piece of customer psychology into a full branding strategy.

Zignature showed off the company’s marketing of its protein options under the headline, “What’s your color?” The company has 13 different formulas of dry food and the same number of wet food formulas, with coordinating primary proteins and a different color for each protein. Turkey, for example, is yellow, while goat is purple.

zignature SuperZoo

Zignature’s lines of dry and wet pet foods showcase a common color scheme linked by the type of protein found in each formulation. | Photo by Lindsay Beaton

Identity Pet Nutrition offers eight different proteins with strong color-coordination on each product linked to each protein type. The Heritage Turkey recipe is blue, for example, while the Prairie Pork recipe is pink.

Identity SuperZoo

Identity’s protein color coordination expands to bold, minimally colored packaging to further highlight the scheme. | Photo by Lindsay Beaton

When pet food store shelves are more than full of options and there’s only so much packaging real estate to entice the eye, it can be difficult to think of something new that stands out among the tried-and-true messages. Perhaps looking at old favorites and promoting a twist is a viable way to ensure that something like “I just know it’s the blue bag” really is all a customer needs to know.

Briefly: Top ingredient trends at SuperZoo 2018

  • Single-ingredient pet treats (proteins highlighted: beef, chicken, pork, turkey)
  • Carrots
  • CBD (cannabidiol) oil
  • Honey
  • Pumpkin

Look for more on these trends in upcoming issues of Petfood Industry magazine.

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