Winning customers over with the pet aisle.

cat-and-dog-happy-squareFor decades, grocery retailers have only offered a handful of pet products, if any at all. Only the most popular and mainstream brands such as Ralston Purina and Meow Mix® made the cut. Now we’re seeing Rachael Ray™ Nutrish®, Blue Buffalo®, and Freshpet® taking over the aisle. What’s really going on behind the shift?

Ownership trends.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), pet ownership fell 6.4 percent in total number of dogs and cats from 2007 to 2012. However, we’ve all witnessed the emergence of pet services, from mobile grooming to pet funerals, as well as the explosion of gourmet and holistic food brands.

In a recent article for Grocery Headquarters, Seth Mendelson explains that consumers “are treating these animals as part of their families. That means a burning desire to give their pets the best of everything, all designed to make them more healthy and happy.” He goes on to state that owners are “only too eager to pay more for products that they perceive as better for their animals.”

This eagerness is reflected in statistics compiled by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). According to their U.S. Pet Industry Spending Figures & Future Outlook, total pet expenditures rose from $41.2 billion in 2007 to $53.33 billion in 2012*, the same period in which pet ownership fell.

What does this mean for the grocery retailer?

Given that more and more specialty brands have entered the market and pet owners seem willing to pay a premium for the best (even as ownership has slightly declined), we’d expect to see an expansion in the grocery retail pet aisle across the board. Not necessarily so.

Some industry experts fear that in the quest for manufacturers to build a better mousetrap, retailers are inundated with too much duplication in the market. How many different brands of dog leashes or pet bowls can an aisle support?

Now factor in online sales growth. Petfood Industry states that online sales of dog and cat food in the U.S. rose 15 percent in 2016, totaling $1 billion.

Both of these trends are causing some grocery retailers to rethink the pet aisle; while some are embracing the growth, others are scaling back and minimizing selections.

How in-store promotion can play a role.

Whichever camp your store falls into, shelf-edge marketing can help boost your pet aisle sales. Tags and signs from Bacompt can provide descriptive product information on the benefits of specialty items, while also encouraging impulse buying from shoppers who otherwise might purchase online (possibly converting them to loyal shoppers).

Contact us to learn how we can help increase your pet aisle profits.

P.S. The AVMA National Pet Week is May 7 – 13.

*Food and supplies account for approximately two-thirds of total expenditures, while vet care, animal purchases, and grooming/boarding services account for the remaining third.