Market Watch: Your customers are loyal to value

This month I'll share an online survey of your customers

Fifty-five percent of US pet owners think their brands are priced at value.
Fifty-five percent of US pet owners think their brands are priced at value.
Over 50% said they purchased the same brand for over three years. Huntley Manhertz, Jr

This month I'll share an online survey of your customers. I asked pet owners to share their thoughts on:

  • The petfood brands they use;
  • Where they are most likely to buy petfood products;
  • The value these products bring; and
  • Their brand likes and dislikes.

I surveyed pet owners from all over the US, across various demographic profiles. A total of 300 pet owners responded. Of those responding to the survey, 69% were dog owners, 48% were cat owners and 17% were fish owners. The survey has a confidence interval of 6% with 95% confidence.

Where, what and why

Where do your customers buy their petfoods? Over 38% of pet owners get their petfoods from nonconventional retail channels like private pet stores and veterinarians, or they home-prepare foods for their pets. Thirty-one percent purchase petfoods from specialty retailers like Petco or Petsmart; 21% from mass retailers like Wal-Mart; and 10% from grocery retailers.

I asked petfood buyers to tell me the products they purchase the most and if the product is priced at value. Overall, owners perceive the products they purchase are priced at value compared to competitive alternatives.

Twenty-four percent think their brands are priced somewhat above value; 55% think their brands are priced at value; while 21% say their current brands are priced below value. Examples include the following.

  • Priced above value: Alpo, Authority Harvest, Old Mother Hubbard, Hill's Prescription Diet and Pedigree.
  • Priced at value: Hill's Science Diet, Iams, Wellness and Nutro Max.
  • Priced below value: Caesar, Purina Dog Chow, Flint River, Friskies and Ol' Roy.

When asked to rank the brands they most often use, they rank them as follows: Purina, Iams, Science Diet, Nutro Max and Wellness. The main reasons owners like their brands are:

  1. Quality of the product;
  2. Their pets are engaged with the product; and
  3. The health implications surrounding the ingredients in the product.

When I asked pet owners the length of time they have purchased the brands they use the most, over 50% said they have purchased the same brand for over three years, 12% between 1-3 years and 37% under a year. Approximately 88% said they prefer a premium brand to a non-premium brand or store brand.

What do I make of it?

Value, value, value: despite higher costs associated with purchasing premium brands, and in some cases limited distribution, pet owners surveyed are tuned to quality foods with ingredients that provide health benefits. They seek these products from local pet stores or veterinarians that provide consultation that is not readily available at mainstream retail channels.

Once convinced of the value the product provides, owners become loyal customers for three years or more. The bottom line: By being more aggressive in communicating their value proposition to customers, premium brands can likely do well within mainstream retail channels.

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