For pet marketers, the natural and organic segment is competitive catnip

For pet marketers, the natural and organic segment is competitive catnip

Gone are the days when pet owners had to seek out their local independent pet store to find a decent selection of natural pet products. Today, natural, organic and eco-friendly pet products generate billions of dollars of sales annually across a wide range of channels--and the market just keeps growing. Packaged Facts’ fully updated Natural, Organic and Eco-Friendly Pet Products in the U.S., 6th Edition looks at how savvy marketers are navigating the “natural” waters as they contend with ever more knowledgeable consumers while keeping an eye out for the next big opportunity.

It’s not surprising that such a boom market is attracting virtually all of the major players, who have expanded their product base by extending product lines and snapping up smaller marketers left and right. Still, many of the innovations continue to come from smaller players, in some cases igniting seismic shifts like the movement towards grain-free pet foods. The market  is also fueled by human market trends--the environmental, safety, and social concerns that are important to most U.S. consumers when purchasing products for themselves are also impacting decisions on pet product purchases.

Natural, Organic and Eco-Friendly Pet Products in the U.S. covers both pet foods (including foods and treats) and pet care products (non-food products such as cat litter, grooming products, flea/tick care products, supplements, clean-up products, etc.). Packaged Facts’ proprietary National Pet Owner Survey data appears throughout the report, with some interesting results:

  • Half (50%) of pet owners surveyed agreed that they consider natural and organic pet foods to be safer than regular pet foods, with 22% strongly agreeing.
  • Pet product purchasers overall tend to have their day-to-day shopping decisions impacted by an interest in natural/organic/eco-friendly attitudes and environmental/social attitudes, with those consumers who purchase natural, organic or eco-friendly pet products being even more heavily influenced by these sentiments.
  • Two thirds (66%) of pet product purchasers pay attention to the first ingredient on the package ingredient panel on the pet foods they buy, with 81% of those who purchase natural, organic or eco-friendly pet foods adhering to this practice.
  • Over half (51%) of pet product purchasers feel that natural/organic pet foods are more nutritious than regular pet foods, and 71% are willing to spend extra to ensure the wellness of their pets.

As the market matures, marketers must set themselves apart, and one way they can do so is through greater transparency in ingredient content and sourcing. Not infrequently, what isn’t in a product is more of a selling point than what is. But in the end, it’s all about health. Pets are family. And for today's pet owners, natural products are one more way to keep them happy and healthy for as long as is humanly possible.

 -- by Shannon Landry Brown, pet industry market research analyst