• by David Sprinkle
  • January 4 2023
  • pet food

Leveraging Private Label in Pet Products

Leveraging Private Label in Pet Products

Private-label (or store brand) products have long been significant components of the pet market. This holds true for pet foods in particular, and especially in the specialty pet store channel—though Amazon, Chewy, Walmart, Target, supermarket chains, and wholesale clubs have certainly weighed in.

In fact, the sturdy sales performance of wholesale clubs as pet product retailers—brick & mortar orientation in an omnichannel era notwithstanding—builds largely on pet food offerings within the powerhouse Kirkland Signature (Costco) and Member’s Mark (Sam’s Club) private-label brands.

An on-trend if not innovative private-label program has long been key to pet product retail success, and as price inflation and the threat of economic recession exert pricing pressure on all pet categories, private-label products are well positioned to leverage their status as quality but affordable options. Walmart’s Pure Balance Pro+ pet food, for example, is marketed “at a price point…lower than similar premium pet food items.” The Petsense/Tractor Supply 4health brand pet food similarly is marketed as “specially designed to deliver optimal nutrition for optimal health at an everyday great price.”

At least in-store, pet specialty retailers may retain an edge over others in private-label pet supplies, where the offerings in the non-pet space aren’t as robust, and where physical rather than virtual shelf space may prohibit generous stocking. Pet specialty retailer or otherwise, in-house brands need to keep pace with innovation to attract pet parents with a plethora of retail and e-tail choices.

As Packaged Facts reported in U.S. Pet Product Retail and Internet Shopping Trends, 4th Edition, 24% of dog and cat owners use private-label pet products. The category with the highest usage rates is dog treats, at 18% of dog owners, with 9% using only private-label treats. Other high-usage categories include wet dog food, dry dog food, and cat litter.

Given the challenges of the current economic environment, history supports a private-label bump, such as occurred after the Great Recession of 2008.  Store brands remain likely to benefit from the perfect storm triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, fluctuating energy prices, rising ingredient prices, and corresponding product price inflation.

As of 2002, Packaged Facts survey data show that 66% of U.S. pet owners are looking for lower prices and special offers, and 56% feel that many pet products are becoming too expensive.

A sales bump will extend to economy-priced products in discount channels, as well as premium private label. Dollar General, for example, received a 2022 Salute to Excellence Award from the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) for its Heartland Farms Baked Biscuit Dog Treats, “bringing a small indulgence for your pet at an affordable price.”

For more information, please see the newly released Packaged Facts report U.S. Pet Product Retail and Internet Shopping Trends, 4th Edition.