changing where they say they shop. In 2010, 46. 3 percent said they did
most of their pet product purchasing at PetSmart or Petco, and in 2016
that percentage had increased slightly, to 47.1 percent. Supermarkets
were flat, from 47. 4 percent to 47.2 percent. Online increased from 7.0
percent to 12. 7 percent. The channels that suffered decreases were discount stores ( 30. 8 percent to 25. 8 percent) and veterinarians ( 17. 6 percent to 14. 6 percent).
Of course, these channels overlap. A consumer can buy pet products
from online vendors ranging from giants such as Amazon to smaller
regional supermarket chains that are expanding their online capabilities.
Several retailers have announced one-hour delivery in their market areas,
while many others are now working with third party vendors for delivery.
Store Brands Make a Name for Themselves
Another tactic that grocery retailers are using to solidify their offerings
is to expand their private label pet selection. According to the New York
City-based Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA), for the
52 weeks ending December 24, 2016, pet category sales in supermarkets totaled more than $1.36 billion, and 18. 8 percent of that, or nearly
$256.9 million, was private label.
“The introduction of these products is not necessarily to compete
Traditional solid nylon
with online competitors,” says PLMA president, Brian Sharoff. “It is
also intended to promote the stores versus other brick-and-mortar
competitors as well as to reinforce their own consumers’ loyalty.”
He adds that to succeed in this space, retailers must make sure the
products are the best quality available and are innovative. “People love
their pets and want them to be treated as special and important,” he
says. “That message needs to come through.”
Sharoff points out that several chains have recently expanded their
private label pet set. Kroger has nearly 60 products that emphasize nat-
ural and pet wellness. Wegman’s offers more than 40 products under its
Nature line. Southeastern Grocers has its Whiskers & Tails line in its
Bi-Lo, Harveys and Winn-Dixie stores.
The trend is to offer not just private label pet products, but high-qual-
ity private label pet products.
“Stores have a tremendous opportunity to refresh their private label
pet brands and capitalize on trends that have moved the pet industry
in recent years,” says George Puro, president of Puro Research Group
in White Plains, N. Y. For example, he says San Antonio-based H-E-B
offers Heritage Ranch brand, which hits many of the free-of claims that
are on-trend now, such as grain-free, free of corn, soy, wheat, artificial
colors and flavors.
“The brand also donates 1 percent of sales to Texas shelters, jumping
on another popular trend among pet product manufacturers,” he says.
“Other popular trends that private label has embraced include reseal-
able packaging, Made in the USA claims and convenience.”
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