In many markets worldwide, pet food sales growth is increasingly driven by e-commerce. This retail channel rises in popularity among pet owners who look for greater convenience and better prices, and in particular among the technology-savvy Millennial generation.

 

In the US, for example, more than three in 10 pet owners (31%) report that they have purchased pet food online*, and about a quarter of that group say that they purchase pet food online most often, a reflection of the growing impact that e-commerce is having on the pet food market.

“52% of French pet owners would be interested in buying custom-made pet food (i.e. tailored exactly to my pet’s needs)”**

 

Online customization offers new opportunities for pet food brands

 

The development of e-commerce increasingly enables pet food brands to tap into the broader trend of personalization and customization, inviting pet owners to take a more active role in determining their pets’ diet.
The increasing role of personalization in pet food shopping is also in line with Mintel‘s 2018 Food & Drink Trend Preferential Treatment, which states that a new era in personalization is emerging due to the expansion of online and mobile food shopping.
While brands like Tails in the UK and Just Right by Purina in the US leverage customization through tailor-made pet food recipes, other operators such as The Farmer’s Dog or The Barky Company focus on convenience, offering pet food delivery services that bear a close resemblance to food subscription boxes or meal kit home delivery services such as Blue Apron or Hello Fresh.

 

 

Click on the picture to see Tails’ tailor-made pet food recipes
Click on the picture to see The Farmer’s Dog’s customized offer for pets

Australian subscription model DOGGYBAG also offers complete meals delivered to your door once a week. Going further, the Chinese emerging dog food brand Myfoodie offers a unique customization service through its brand website and social media account. Besides breed, age, size, function, culinary preferences, and activity level, the brand also takes into account functional needs, such as digestive care, immunity enhancement, dental health, and weight control.

 

All pets are different, and customizable pet foods are set to become a growing requirement for many pet owners. Providing a differentiated portfolio which caters to different breeds, sizes, ages, activity levels, and health conditions will be a basic need for pet food brands, and they can work to add value by appealing to pet owners’ worries concerning training, emotional well-being, and relationship-building.

 

* Source: Lightspeed/Mintel – US: 1,452 internet users aged 18+ who own a pet
** Source: Lightspeed/Mintel – France: 1,452 internet users aged 18+ who own a pet

take-home points

  • The development of online and mobile food shopping is expanding from human to pet food.
  • Customizable pet food is set to become a growing requirement for many pet owners.
  • In consequence, meal subscription services are gaining more popularity worldwide.