Pet’s Parents Take Special Care of Kids

Jul 16, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson and Al McClain

It’s not unusual for the owners of a dog or cat in the U.S. to refer to themselves as the pet’s Mom or Dad.

Pets-as-family is a common sentiment in society and it appears to be growing as time goes on. Consumers now search for pet-friendly vacations where puppies and/or kitties are
welcomed in lodging along with everyone else in the family. Web sites such as Pet Friendly Travel (
were just one of 82,600 results found doing a search on Google for pet-friendly vacations.

Consumers are also looking for any way they can to extend the lives of their pets. As consumers increasingly choose organic foods for themselves in the pursuit of better health,
so too are they making similar choices for their pets.

In fact, USA Today recently reported, citing the Organic Trade Association, that sales or organic pet foods were up 63 percent last year, nearly three times the rate of
that for organic foods for humans.

With roughly $14 million in annual sales, organic pet foods make up a tiny fraction of the $28 billion U.S. pet food business.

The consumer desire for better-for-you products for their pets is not confined to just those with the “organic” moniker attached.

Iams, the biggest player in North American pet food sales and a Procter & Gamble company (a RetailWire sponsor), has developed products to improve the coats of pets, tartar
control and digestion while building stronger muscles and improved vitality. The company’s marketing efforts to consumers revolve around pet owners being able to “see the difference
in four weeks” after committing to Iams’ products.

Recent successful new products for the brand have included weight control, hairball care for cats (Editor’s note: Don’t ask), hearth health, and dental care.

Next year, Iams intends to broaden its user base through ‘exciting’ feeding opportunities. They have reformulated their pet food using a blend of fats and aromas and the company
says the new version is preferred 7:1 over the old.

The company will also ship a new wet pouch product in January called “Iams Select Bites,” which is slow-roasted in chicken broth and is the first premium pouch offering — giving
retailers a chance to trade wet purchasers up to premium.

Moderator’s Comment: How closely connected are the trends concerning what consumers buy for themselves to what they
buy for their pets, such as in the case of organic food consumption? What retailers do you think represent the best in catering to pets and their humans?

Pets are becoming quasi people, at least in many developed countries. This opens up new opportunities to reach and market to them (mainly through their
owners), as they are consumers of food, supplements, meal enhancers, toys, accessories and the like.

Retailers such as Target, with their educational programs, and Woodman’s, with their complete feeding shelf set, are doing things “different.”
George Anderson – Moderator

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