The pet food trends and attributes that drove in-store sales and online searches in 2020-2021

By Sara Sprenger

5 min read

October 11, 2021

According to the 2021-2022 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 70% of US households own a pet. But for an increasing number of these owners, their pets aren’t simply furry friends but family. That’s leading to a more mindful approach to pet care, with owners choosing food and treats with various health-conscious wellness attributes.

With that in mind, what exact trends in the pet industry should you be aware of as a CPG, and how can you take advantage?

The data cited within this article is from the Human Pet Trends Driving Pet Food Purchases analysis by NielsenIQ.

The search for clean label pet food and treats in-store and online 

It’s clear which health-focused trends are on people’s minds when they’re searching for pet food and treats in stores and online. Whether they are at their local pet store or purchasing healthy pet items online they are clearly shifting the ways they thinking about buy for their furry legged friends. Consumers are searching for specialty keywords like raw, sustainable, farm-raised, vegan, protein, grain-free, natural, and some are seeking products with functional ingredients like pumpkin, and probiotics. It comes to no surprise that there has also been a huge increase in consumption for specific health focused pet food that helps with things like weight control, joint health and digestive support. 

In-Store Consumer Behavior Trends

It’s no secret that packaging and how people perceive your brand matters now more than ever. When shopping down the aisle of stores, pet parents are no longer looking for the brand with the healthiest dog on it or the cheapest price, but on the specific attributes that make ingredients in pet food what it is today. In some of the biggest attributes, pet retailers and manufactures are seeing an increase in sales across all the following categories: grain free, joint health, vegan, digestive support and weight gain.

Online Consumer Behavior Trends

With the rise of online shopping and delivery services making it so easy to shop without leaving your home, it makes sense that retailers have also seen a shift in the way consumers are searching for things online to buy. In the same categories of grain-free, joint health, vegan, digestive support, and weight control, search engines and how companies present themselves virtually is becoming more and more important.

Opportunities from pet-food trends with Total Wellness

In addition to spotting trends and understanding how consumers are shopping, Total Wellness has also identified what pet owners are looking for and yields results that show that what consumers want, isn’t always reflected or claimed in the product’s label and packaging, causing a disconnect. 

Furthermore, an alarming example from Nielsen Label Insight shows that 48% of pet food products qualify for the “Meat 1st Ingredient” attribute (growing in popularity as well) but only 18% of products claim this attribute on their labels. Whether someone is shopping in person or online, they’re reading these labels closely. Brands not capitalizing on the “Meat 1st Ingredient” attribute are specifically losing out on 5.9% growth year over year with other brands in similar boats also missing out on huge opportunities.

So, what can you do to capitalize on this growing attribute as a CPG manufacturer? 

With the help of NielsenIQ Total Wellness you can better connect with shoppers’ needs and product preferences through data-driven insights, including the ones detailed above, so you can guide your on-package claims to reflect the characteristics shoppers are looking for. 

How? Total Wellness comes with more than 500+ product insight attributes and that allow you to report on an attributes’ specific price impact, branding, competition, upcoming trends and more. Make sure your products are claiming the right attributes and getting into the baskets of your shoppers by exploring NielsenIQ Total Wellness.

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