Super Zoo is right around the corner, and chances are you're probably considering new products to carry in your pet store. However, with suppliers doing all they can to get your attention, the process of choosing what's right for your pet store, and in turn, your consumer, can become a little overwhelming. While there are plenty of categories of pet supplies to consider out there, let's start with one that has been top of mind lately: cat food.
Deciding how to choose the best cat food for your pet store is no easy task. With so many new and upcoming trends to consider, it's important to decide upon which ones best fit your consumer profile. Do your consumers prefer raw or frozen diets? Or are they just trying to get by with the cheapest option they can find?
Here's some tips to consider when choosing the best cat food for your pet store.
Choose your Cat Food Based on Nutrition, Not Flavor
According to a recent article by Pet Food Industry, cats actually choose their food based on the nutritional content, rather than the flavor. While the taste of the cat's food may be important initially, they eventually "learn about the fat and protein content in their food and regulate their intake to reach a target ratio of these nutrients."
A study, published by Royal Society Open Science, confirms cat's ability to distinguish the nutiritional profiles in their food, using that as their method of preferential treatment.
So, what does this mean for you as a retailer? Likelihood is that you're probably already choosing the food to feature in your store based on the quality of nutrition. As a guideline for highly nutritional foods, follow these tips:
- If your customers love high-quality foods, stick with selections that offer limited ingredients that don't include those controversial ones such as corn or animal by-product
- Avoid foods with high carbohydrates, as it can lead to obesity which can easily lead to diabetes
- Keep your eye out for foods that are high in fat and protein, which will help with muscles, energy, and more
- Buy food that offers fixed formulations that do not change based on the economy (aka an ingredient that is cheap one month that may be switched out for a similar ingredient that is cheaper the next month)
Keep Track of Ongoing Pet Food Trends
Staying on top of trends in the pet food industry is a great way to make sure you're stocking what customers are looking to buy. You'd be suprised how often these trends change and how quick they can go from one to the other.
Some ways to easily keep track of these trends is to subscribe to pet industry feeds, newsletters, and blogs from experts who do all the work for you. Great resources to stay on top of pet food trends include (but are not limited to):
- Pet Food Industry blog (June Issue)
- Pet Food Institute
- Pet Industry Publications
- Pet Age Magazine (@PetAgeMag)
- Pet Business (@petbusinessmag)
- Pet Product News (PPNIntl)
- Social Media Networks (click here to see a list of pet trade news Twitter accounts)
- The All Points Marketing Newsletter
As of now, there are some top pet food trends that we are seeing in the industry, which you should keep your eye out for as Super Zoo comes around.
- "Super Foods" such as seaweed, coconut oil, kale, and chia seeds are on the rise both in human food and pet food (funny how they seem to compliment each other)
- Chicken is still the leading protein throughout the world in multiple types of pet food
- Hint: Chicken is also one of the highest allergy ingredients for dogs. Consider stocking multiple types of proteins, including exotic ones, and encouraging your customers to switch meats once in a while in order to prevent tolerance build up.
- Meat, lots of it, and it's usage as a limited ingredient, is very popular. Customers are wanting to take full advantage of their cat's carnivorous spirit and limit the chances of getting "bad" ingredients in their diet.
- Freeze-dried and raw cat food and treats - they have been making their mark on the industry for a few years and in 2016 many more manufacturers got involved in this fresh trend.
While keeping up with the latest pet food trends is crucial to staying on top of your business, it's not the only thing to consider when choosing a new food for cats.
Matching Ongoing Trends with Your Customers
We all know that just because something is a trend, doesn't mean your customer is going to automatically buy into it. For example, do you remember when mustaches were a thing? I don't mean the actual ones that grow on men's faces; I'm talking about the mustache "fashion trend" that seemed to take over the world for a couple of months a few years back. While it was more of a fad than a trend, we saw mustache-everything everywhere. But just because it was everywhere, didn't mean all of us bought into it.
Trends are not always a true representation of the industry as a whole, and it's important to know who your customer is and why they buy the food that they buy. Since you probably already know who your customers are, now all you have to do is see if these trends match up with their goals and desires. Some easy ways to discover what might work in your store is by monitoring which brands and categories of products are being sold the most in your store. Do they match what your mission is? Is your customer buying the cheapest product they can find? Maybe a top-of-the-line cat product featuring kale and seweed and chicken isn't the right match.
If you're unsure of what exactly your customer may be looking for, consider asking your employees what they have been hearing from customers. Are there requests for specific brands, nutritional content or ingredients? Are there items in which customers have been saying they are looking to avoid? Are there things customers are sharing that they want their food to combat (like hairballs, etc.)?
Your customers are looking to you, as the the retailer, to be the experts on what's good for their pet. Figuring out what your customers need and want from their pet's food is the best way to ensure the cat food you choose will sell.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashley Hoffman – E-Commerce & Digital Marketing Manager joined the All Points family in April of 2015. Ashley brings a fresh outlook to the marketing industry as well as a constant desire for learning something new. She is dedicated to consistently improving her skills and efficiency in the marketing industry and using those skills to promote APM and all brands we represent. Ashley has grown up with many animals throughout her life and is currently the loving owner of two cats.
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