BrandTrack: The best bet for your pet

This month BrandTrack looks at petfood. The market is challenging because consumption is virtually static. The task for brand owners is to take market share from their competitors and keep up with the changing tastes of our pets

SBHD: This month BrandTrack looks at petfood. The market is challenging because consumption is virtually static. The task for brand owners is to take market share from their competitors and keep up with the changing tastes of our pets


* Cat owners are more likely to buy more than one brand, and to rotate between the top four brands. Half of all cat owners bought one of the Whiskas range, compared to a third for Felix. Whiskas is particularly strong among owners of three or more pets, showing that its volume must also be very high.

* Pedigree Chum has an unchallenged penetration among dog owners, with 41 per cent. Nearest rival Pal achieves only 14 per cent. But, unlike Whiskas, Chum purchasing decreases with the number of pets owned.

* Own-label achieves 14 per cent penetration – relatively low compared to branded products. Sainsbury’s does not assume its usual dominance of own-label, with only four per cent penetration. Surprisingly, propensity to purchase own-label decreases with the number of pets owned, perhaps reflecting their relatively dominant position in the household.

SBHD: Reasons for purchase

* Habitual purchase is the overwhelming factor in this market. Eighty five per cent agreed it was a reason for buying at least one product, a higher figure than for any other market examined by BrandTrack. This is not merely because of inertia. It is linked to the high number of respondents spontaneously mentioning the importance of the “pet’s preference”. This may also explain a low figure for experimentation – only 19 per cent.

* Economy ranks relatively highly, especially among DEs. Some 23 per cent of dog owners saw comparative cheapness as a reason for purchase, compared to 18 per cent of cat owners – and 43 per cent of own-label purchasers.

* Recommendation is also a strong factor: from other pet owners 18 per cent, vets 12 per cent and breeders four per cent. Dog owners are twice as likely to buy because of a vet’s recommendation than are cat owners.

* Some 31 per cent of cat owners bought because of shelf impact. This correlates with their larger brand repertoires, although their apparent susceptibility to advertising and price promotion is no greater than for dog owners.

SBHD: Advertising recall

* Respondents named 35 brands, of which 17 were remembered by less than five per cent of the sample. Seventeen per cent could not remember any ads. Recall seems to reflect interest and involvement in the market – people with three or more pets are more likely to remember some ads than those with one.

* The two largest spending brands, Whiskas and Chum, tie for top place. Some 42 per cent of all owners claim to have seen ads for the generic or sub-brands. Although recall is highest for Whiskas among cat owners (61 per cent) and for Chum among dog owners (62 per cent), nearly a quarter of dog owners recalled Whiskas ads and a similar number of cat owners recalled Chum.

* Cat owners are more likely to recall advertising. More than ten per cent remembered ads for Whiskas, Arthur’s and Felix – a penetration which is only achieved by Chum and Pal among dog owners.

SBHD: Advertising expenditure

* Whiskas and Pedigree Chum massively outspend all other brands, although our figure does represent the total brand spend, which is made up of Kitten, Select, Fine Cuts and regular Whiskas, and Chum tinned and dry food. Fine Cuts is the biggest single brand, spending £6.6m in 1994, although only one per cent of respondents mentioned this variant’s ads specifically.

* Forty two brands or sub-brands of dogfood were advertised during 1994, compared with only 19 catfood brands. The two markets attracted roughly similar expenditure, but the fewer catfood brands which advertised tend to have bigger budgets. Both Pedigree and Spillers devote relatively small budgets to joint catfood and dogfood promotions.

* TV takes the lion’s share of the budget, with more than 90 per cent of advertising expenditure. Poster expenditure is unusually high in this market, taking nearly eight per cent a year, almost all for catfood brands.

Researchers asked a sample 309 adults aged 25 to 65, who bought tinned or packet dogfood or catfood in January 1995.

Analysis: The Human Factor Fieldwork: ESA Market Research 01727 847572

Ad spend: Register-MEAL 0171 833 1212

For customised reports on petfood, contact Elaine Hunt, BrandTrack tel/fax 01451 844754

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