SBHD: Simon Esberger, marketing director at Spillers, gives his opinion.
The petfood market is almost unique in that it is one of the few where you cannot really increase overall consumption – you have to take share from your competitors.
Owners have a number of brands that are acceptable to their pet, and the trick is getting your brands to take four or five of the seven cans consumed a week, instead of one or two.
Because we are a nation of animal lovers, it’s not difficult to attract attention to advertising by featuring cats and dogs. The thing is to stand out and make people remember the brand. That is why we use dogs in our Choosy ads, to make people think and take notice.
The catfood market attracts more advertising expenditure, and cat owners typically choose from a wider repertoire than dog owners.
Cats are fussier animals than dogs, and can suddenly decide not to like a brand any more after eating it happily for years.
It’s like baby food – acceptability is judged by results. If the dog eats its food straightaway, and the cat within an hour or so, owners interpret this as the animal “likes it” and they will buy it again.
Own-label is less important than in many markets. The results show that money-off is not high in the list of purchase reasons – although we all keep doing it – and the own-label saving is not very great.
Brands really are the key in petfood because of major investment, behind excellent products, over a considerable period.