Consumers are growing increasingly interested in health and wellness, which inevitably affects the way they select food for their pets. This attitude has triggered growth in the pet food market, both in physical and online retail. Brands are best positioned to take advantage by launching more specialised pet food, as consumers are now more aware of the ingredients in pet food than ever before.
To establish to what extent certain trendy health and wellbeing related claims are influencing UK pet owners, we ran a steer, showing cat owners from our community six formulation claims and asking them whether they would buy cat food options with each claim. The results are shown below:
Cat food supporting healthy aging is the indisputable winner, with over 85% of the panel responding positively. While currently the standard age-related options are Kitten, Adult, and Senior 7+, some options have started appearing for older seniors, for example Hill’s Science Plan Senior 11+ Healthy Ageing.
One interesting thing about the rest of the proposed claims is that “sustainable” beats both “organic” and “limited ingredient diet” claims in terms of popularity. Perhaps assumed higher price tags for the latter two scare consumers off. Freeze dried raw meat and cat food with insect proteins managed to attract less than half of pet owners, which shows that these concepts are still niche in the UK, in spite of their higher popularity in the US.
As “supporting healthy aging” stood out by attracting a substantial 17% more consumers than the next most popular claim, we attempted to establish how should brands phrase such claims. We used a split by description steer, showing two separate panels a claim each: one simply highlighting the 11+ age, while the other giving a bit more detail about a holistic aging positioning besides the targeted age group:
Clearly, the holistic aging positioning is more influential than simply stating the age, the former outweighing the latter by 6.22%. Holistic aging is a hot topic in human wellbeing, which looks at all aspects of a person as they age, and this philosophy is entering pet care.
A comparison between many more claim variants can be made by using further iterations of split testing. Claims can include details about one or more ingredients and their functional benefits. Packaging designs, reflecting the health and wellness positioning, can be tested with “split by image” steers, so that the best claim and design are established. This combination of incremental improvements can give the winning design a large boost in purchase intent.