Concerned owners are willing to trade up to ensure their pet receives the best care. Image courtesy of Ashley Randall.

It’s no secret that pets hold a special place in the hearts of consumers. In fact, the majority of pet owners view their animal companions as part of the family and as such we want to provide the best possible products for our pets, from toys and treats to everyday food.

While dogs may hold the title of man’s best friend, pets come in all shapes, species and sizes with individual needs that need to be cared for. With a wide and diverse range of animals to cater to, the pet food market has grown significantly over recent years and the humanisation trend has created even more opportunities for brand to market for pet products that mimic trends seen in human food.

To ensure the health and happiness of their pets devoted owners are demonstrating a willingness to pay more for products that they think will benefit their animal. As the market for pet care products evolves to suit consumer needs, opportunities have arisen for packaging designers to create new formats that help brands to stand out on the shelves. In the recent report, ‘Adding Value Through Packaging: Pet Care’, GlobalData explores the various ways that pet care packaging can address consumer concerns, including health and wellbeing, time-constraints, as well as helping brands to establish a premium identity.

Focus on health and wellbeing drives demand for new options to counter pet obesity

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Providing pets with a healthy and balanced diet is an important part of looking after any animal. However, despite best their intentions many owners end up over-feeding their pets by guessing the amount of food their animal needs rather than following feeding guidelines. This has contributed to a growing number of animals developing weight-related health problems, in fact, according to the Association for Pet Obesity, in 2015 obesity affected 58% of cats and 54% of dogs in the US.

Newfound awareness about the dietary needs of animal breeds and issues surrounding weight management has created new opportunities for brands to use packaging to target concerned consumers. Single-serve portion packs offer a convenient way for owners to stick to recommended doses and according to GlobalData they are set to become a driving factor in the pet product market.

Unlike multi-serve packs where serving suggestion can be easily forgotten or overlooked, pre-measured and portion-controlled packs give owners greater control over the amount of food their pet is consuming which helps to avoid the risk of overfeeding. For busy consumers single serve options are an easy and fuss-free way to provide the right amount of food for their pet, which may help brands to position products as a ‘better-for-you’ option.

One example of portion control packs can be seen in JBL Novo GranoColor Mini colour fish food. The click-activated dosage closure ensures that consumers are feeding small aquarium fish the correct amounts. The pack is convenient and easy-to-use. To operated the consumer turns the pack upside-down to fill the chamber and then pushes a button to deliver the measured dose.

Creative, on-the-go formats help consumers to enjoy the time spent with their pets  

“Single serve options are an easy and fuss-free way to provide the right amount of food.”

The emotional connection that humans have with their animals is a strong driving force that can persuade consumers to trade-up and pay more for products that they think will benefit that bond. However, as modern lifestyles grow increasingly demanding, time-scarce consumers have less freedom to spend as much time with their pets as they would like, which makes them keen to find ways to make the most of the limited time they do have.

According to GlobalData, 61% of global consumers somewhat or completely agree they rely heavily on time-saving products and services and for pet owners convenient and ready-to-use pack designs are an appealing option that can enhance the experience and interaction and some cases, provide a novel way to help them bond with their pet. While the product itself can appeal to a number of consumer requirements, such as healthy ingredients or providing a treat, creative packaging formats and delivery systems can add value to the overall product by acting as a tool that facilitates a joyful experience, which can be shared by both owners and pets.

Time-scarcity and enhanced mobility has also created new consumption occasions occurring in less conventional environments. This creates opportunities for manufacturers to develop solutions to the different issues and needs that arise with out-of-home consumption. For example, packs designed to fit into pockets may appeal to pet owners looking for a single product that can be easily transported from location to location. Additionally, packs that provide a mess-free way to feed animals away from the home can add value to products and help brands to stand out from competitors.

GlobalData identified the Trixie Trainer Snack for dogs as a leading example of how convenient packaging formats can be used to add value to pet products. While the salmon-flavoured training aid provides a primary function for the product, the packaging provides additional benefits that can help brands to capture the attention of consumers.

On a functional level, the pack design is compact and can easily be carried in a coat or bag, which makes is convenient for consumers to use when out walking, on day trips, or at training classes. However, in addition to being portable, the special roll-on format allows dogs to lick the treat straight from the pack, which creates a good opportunity for pet owners to interact with their animal.

Humanisation trend inspires innovation in pet food products  

“Consumers have less freedom to spend as much time with their pets as they would like.”

Following recent revelations surrounding the standard and nutritional value of some pet products on the market, the demand for more high-quality, beneficial products has created opportunities for brands to promote their products as superior offerings, which can be sold at a premium price point.

However, as the pet food market becomes more competitive, manufacturers must find ways to make their products stand out on the shelves such as using novel packaging formats that have a strong visual impact or utilise unusual shapes can create a feeling of experimentation that captures the attention of adventurous and inquisitive consumers.

When shopping for pet products, many owners seek out options that they think will provide the most benefits for their animal, from treats to medicine, concerned consumers are willing to pay more to ensure that their pets receive the best care.

As the first point of contact for many consumers packaging plays a vital role in creating a high-quality impression. In the absence of a trained veterinarian, uncertain consumers rely on the packaging of a product to help them decide which offer the best value and quality.

To promote a premium and trustworthy appeal, brands can build upon the demand for products that promote health and wellbeing by including by including information from an authoritative source, which can provide reassurance for pet owners who may feel they need to receive nutritional advice from a source with some authority in the pet food field.

The human food market may offer a limitless source of inspiration in terms of formats and designs for pet products. As the humanisation trend develops in the pet care market, influential characteristics driving innovation and development in human foods are becoming prominent features in pet food.

The recent focus on healthy and clean eating has created opportunities for manufacturers to create and market products using ingredients and formats that they are familiar with. Incorporating elements that mirroring human-food packaging, such as the use of special compartments with sprinkles, or mimicking sport food formats can add to this appeal by creating a visual familiarity that owners associate with high-quality.

Read the full report: ‘Adding Value Through Packaging: Pet Care’