Consumers upgrading when comes to pets

Products that focus on convenience are winning big in the pet category. “Boomers are still driving so much of the category,” said Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Association. “They love their pets, but they still live active lifestyles. Products that make pet care more convenient have become very popular.”

(For the full category review, including sales data, click here.)

Car restraint systems, which help people travel with their pets; timed watering and feeding devices, which allow pet owners to leave the house for extended periods of time; and even videos that keep pets glued to the television are becoming more widespread. New research from the Global Market Development Center, in conjunction with Radian and Nielsen, shows that sales of pet accessories were up 6% in the drug channel in 2012. 

Odor-fighting products and stain removers also are key growth areas in the category. “People are leaving their pet alone for longer periods, and accidents happen,” Vetere said. “More choices in these segments alleviate the worry for many consumers.” 

As for pet food, GMDC’s research indicates that wet and moist dog foods continue to lose share to dry food. Their research shows that sales of dog and cat food were up slightly in the drug channel, and that drug stores had substantial growth in the dry segment in 2012. Premium and superpremium foods are driving growth in the pet food segment, according to Packaged Facts. Grain-free and human-grade products are key trends.

Pet supplements, which also have had strong sales, should get prominent placement in the section. Research from Packaged Facts shows that 43% of dog owners and 36% of cat owners purchase some type of specialty nutritional formula pet food or supplemental nutritional products for their pets. David Sprinkle, Packaged Facts research director, said aging is the core market driver in the segment as more pets suffer from age-related conditions.

Supplements resembling treats are becoming a bigger force in the segment. The Packaged Facts study said that “palatability concerns and the human/pet bonding and fun factor of supplements in treat form has led to an explosion of functional biscuits and soft chews.” Alternative delivery formats — including gels and pastes, as well as gravies and powders designed to be added to pet food — also are gaining wider acceptance.

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