Standing out in the crowd: distinction in the pet supplements market
Creating a brand strategy for today’s pet parent
Brand distinction is challenging in any product category and the pet supplements market is no different. It’s a large, cluttered category and expected to become even more so, as the broader pet care industry continues to surge. Packaged Facts’ Pet Supplements in the U.S., 6th Edition reports that growth in the $580 million U.S. pet supplements market has kept pace through 2016. Similarly, research firm Technavio notes a more than 5 percent global compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2018-2022, with gains specifically in dog and cat supplements.
Why are we seeing such explosive growth in pet supplements?
- Greater consumer awareness of and interest in pet wellness and health
- More attention to age- and obesity-related health problems for pets
- An increase in anthropomorphism, whereby pet owners define themselves as pet parents and treat their pets with the same care as they would provide a human child
- Consumers seeking more natural pet products
- An increase in supplements for preventative care to help avoid costly vet visits
- A rise in patents for ingredients, as manufacturers strive to formulate better products
These trends have led to more products and an increase in the variety of pet supplements. For instance, although pet owners continue to buy products made with glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM for their dogs and cats, they are also exploring newer products made with novel ingredients, such as turmeric/curcumin and cannabidiol. As a result, stores and websites selling pet supplements have a seemingly endless stream of options.
With so much growth, how does a pet supplement brand stand out?
There’s always room for more brands, even in the most crowded space. But for a brand to truly thrive in a competitive atmosphere, there are a few must-haves:
- Meet the Parents. Dog and cat parents, that is. Millennial pet parents, who are more likely to be single and without children, may dote on their fur babies with lavish birthday parties. And Baby Boomers, who generally have more disposable income, may take their pet babies with them on fancy vacations. With pet parents as varied as human parents, this influences how marketers seek to understand their needs and motivations. Getting to know the pet parent helps understand how pet supplement brands play a role in their lives.
- Define the brand, both head and heart. All successful brands organize their approach to market by defining their foundational building blocks, which help the audience understand the brand’s purpose and get very specific about what the brand is. However, to truly connect with the intended audience, a brand must go further and identify its promise or the heart of its offering. Only then can it differentiate itself from other products with a similar purpose. Consider the difference between a chewable joint supplement and a brand claim, such as, the most palatable joint supplement available for dogs under 10 pounds. Almost any pet supplement brand could claim to aide digestion, but the brand that offers a meaningful and emotionally compelling promise is what sets that brand apart.
- Stay true to the brand in all decisions. Defining the brand’s purpose helps with all marketing decision-making and guides the messaging that creates and supports it, as well as where and how those messages can reach the desired audience. For example, for a supplement that targets Millennial cat owners who love social media and rarely read magazines, it’s more effective to build a digital marketing campaign over print. For every marketing decision, we need to ask if it fits what we know about the brand.
Brands that are easily understood, operate according to expectation and strike a true emotional connection with their target audience have the best chance of creating meaningful relationships with their audience. For any brand in the growing pet supplements category, those relationships can lead to significant success.