According to another survey from Packaged Facts, “people who purchased higher-priced pet food, particularly dog food, tend to be more likely to purchase online.”
Pet owners, and millennials, in particular, are spending more than ever on their fur babies.
App startups like Wag and Rover are challenging giants like Petco with on-demand pet services that can be purchased with just phone tap.
1. Surging Demand For Pet Food Ecommerce, Even Prior to COVID-19
There’s no better example of this than Wag and Rover, two startups that earned over 0m in venture capital funding to build marketplaces for pet services like dog walking, pet sitting, grooming and more.
The surge in online demand, coupled with new ways to market products directly to pet owners, has created an opening for smaller, innovative brands to rise up and challenge established pet food giants.
Like many other verticals, the pet food industry is undergoing massive change brought on by an increase in consumer spending, changing consumer behaviors and attitudes, and a surge in demand for premium pet food products and services.
“US spending on pet care continues to rise. Why? Pet food trends follow human fancies, which means a growing focus on wellness that has extended to furry members of the family. Nielsen saw a 36% increase in household pet food spending from 2007-2017, driven by sales of premium brands. In 2017, consumers spent an average of 0 on pets, per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which, as Quartz reported, is higher than spending on cable TV.”
An entirely new market has opened up online for on-demand pet services, such as dog walking.
COVID-19 Accelerates Demand for Online Pet Products, Services
Both established pet retailers and DTC newcomers have rushed to fulfill market demand for pet food and beyond, including pet products, pet wellness, and pet services.
Jinx isn’t alone. There’s also The Farmer’s Dog, Dandy, Ollie — a new class of up-and-coming pet DTC brands that are capitalizing on changing consumer behaviors market demand for pet food delivery, premium pet food, pet wellness, and more.
Krista Garcia of eMarketer explains that a newer generation of pet owners are paying more attention to the diets of their pets:
2. Pet DTC Brands and Startups Capitalizing Market Demand For Delivery, Wellness, and Pet Services
“In just one month, from February to March 2020, online pet food sales jumped US1 million, more than 51%. Subscription purchases of pet food also increased 28% from February to March,” says Debbie Phillips Donaldson of PetFoodIndustry.com
Challengers like Jinx are poised to disrupt traditional pet retail with a direct-to-consumer approach.
For example, some of the same minds that turned the online mattress industry upside down with Casper recently founded Jinx, a direct-to-consumer pet wellness brand. In an interview with Digiday, Terri Rockovich of Jinx explains the appeal of DTC brands,
The innovation doesn’t stop there. Here’s a breakdown of three pet food industry trends that pet marketers and brands can capitalize on in the year ahead. Raw ingredients, probiotics, and non-GMO pet food product searches are all booming, according to a Nielsen report cited by eMarketer:
Specialty pet stores like Chewy.com have capitalized on surging demand for online pet products and services.
From emerging direct-to-consumer brands that challenge big pet retailers to a boom in delivery demand accelerated by COVID-19, the pet food industry is moving faster than ever to react to the changing market.
3. The Rise of Premium and Healthy Pet Food
37% of Prime shoppers have purchased pet products in the last month, a 7% increase from the beginning of COVID-19 in February. Source: eMarketer
Ecommerce platforms, audience data insights, digital marketing, and logistics capabilities have disrupted every vertical in the last 20 years and the pet food industry is no different.
For example, pet food ecommerce sales surged 77% in March 2020 YoY, according to a report by Nielsen.
“For the millennial and Gen Z audience, direct-to-consumer marketing holds substantially more appeal over traditional marketing models as they speak to their priorities: ease, convenience, transparency, controlled costs, authenticity, and a seamless shopping experience.”
“Nielsen also found a 68% increase in dollar sales of dog food with raw food claims in 2017, and for the year ending March 2018 probiotics drove a 139% sales increase and non-GMO pet food a 29% increase.”
In fact, pet products are now the fifth-largest purchase category for Amazon Prime Users, with the percentage of shoppers using Prime for pet products rising from 30% to 37% between February and June 2020 alone.
Amazon, Walmart, and Chewy have become favorites for pet owners shifting dollars to online, according to data from Pet Food Forum.
Conclusion: Pet Food Industry Trends Are New Opportunities
Pet food was already experiencing an online boom prior to COVID-19, with pet food ecommerce growing by 53% year-over-year compared to brick-and-mortar growth of 0.7%.
The race to meet consumer demand has opened up big opportunities for both established retailers and DTC challengers alike.