C-STORE owners are missing a trick by neglecting the needs of pet owners. That’s the opinion of Dave Minton, category and customer marketing director at Mars Petcare UK.
“In total, 56% of households in the UK own a pet,” he said. “Some 42% of convenience shoppers own a cat or a dog but less than half of these – 22% – have purchased pet food in convenience stores. This represents a huge opportunity for the retailer.”
Mars’ own internal research shows that pet shoppers are some of the highest spenders in convenience stores – spending 50% more than the average customer. “Encouraging pet owners to buy their pet food in-store should unlock far greater spend and increase overall sales,” Minton said.
“The bond between owners and their pets is a strong one and is reflected in consumer purchasing habits. Owners are looking for the very best products on the market for their pets from brands they know and trust.”
Minton argues that, with space at a premium, it makes sense to stock best-selling lines. He nominates Mars Petcare products Whiskas and Dreamies, plus functional treats such as Pedigree Dentastix.
He said: “Siting treats at the till point can unlock greater basket spend and encourage last-minute purchase decisions without taking up space in store.
“The care and treats category is an impulsive one and secondary sites, such as clip-strips, help to create points of interruption in store and play a vital role in delivering sales uplift.”
Pedigree’s Vital Protection range includes wet and dry foods, different flavour combinations and formats that range from single cans and pouches to multipacks and a range of dry sizes.
Mars Petcare claims its functional oral treat range, DentaStix, has 15.2% of the convenience market. To complement its core Whiskas Simply range, Mars Petcare launched Whiskas Healthy Joints earlier this year. The crunchy treats contain amino acids and healthy fatty acids that are said to keep cats supple.
At the top end of the market, Sheba’s Fresh Choice range features 50g pouches of luxe flavours such as Salmon with Peas and Tuna with Carrots. RRP for a six-pack is £1.99.
• Healthy eating for animals is increasingly important to pet owners, according to Pets Choice. The firm’s CEO, Tony Raeburn, said: “Currently, the stand-out trend is an increased demand for good quality, natural pet food. Following on from this trend in the human food sector, pet owners are now more interested in the ingredients in their beloved pet’s food.”
In response, the company has introduced products across its range.
“Pets Choice offers a range of natural, high-quality pet food and treats,” Raeburn said. “For example, our Webbox Natural dog food includes 60% fresh meat with fresh vegetables and brown rice. Webbox Cats Delight Sticks contain 90% fresh meat and appeal to pet owners looking for more sophisticated ingredients. They are available in flavours such as Salmon & Trout and Turkey & Lamb.
“As pet obesity increases, with a third of dogs (2.9m) and a quarter of cats (3m) overweight or obese in 2012, pet owners are becoming more vigilant. They are looking for treats which contain added vitamins to aid digestion and bad joints.”
The company’s Walkies treats, for example, come in re-sealable packaging featuring nutritional advice and contain ingredients designed to help with dogs’ health.