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Pet Care's New Pedigree

By: Leslie Benson
Posted: November 4, 2008, from the November 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

Professional and mass beauty brands are expanding into the pet care segment.

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For brands such as Spot Organics to be successful in the U.K. market, however, the U.S. Commercial Service says pet products need to be innovative and packaged for convenience. Discount strategies—from introductory promotions to bulk-buy incentives—are an effective way to build customer loyalty.

In addition, the U.S. Commercial Service urges companies interested in entering the European pet care market to exhibit at annual trade shows such as Glee Petindex, Europe’s largest annual pet care and aquatics buying event, which takes place every September at the National Exhibition Center (NEC) in Birmingham, U.K.

Once connections have been made in the market, the primary pet care retail distribution channels in the U.K., according to the U.S. Commercial Service, include supermarket leaders such as Tesco (garnering 29% of U.K. pet food sales, for instance), in addition to pet superstores, garden centers and pet shops. Mintel International Group Ltd. estimates that half of all 1,500 U.K. garden centers now offer pet product sections for one-stop shopping. “The leading sources of pet accessories, however, are independent pet shops, with 30% market share,” Mintel adds, suggesting U.S. companies pay close attention to channel dynamics.

As for key pet care suppliers, the U.S. Commercial Service states in its August 2006 report, United Kingdom: An Update on the Pet Products Market, that Nestlé Purina and Masterfoods (Pedigree brand), a division of Mars Inc., dominate the pet food sector. However, L. Batley Pet Products is a leading U.K. distributor of pet products to the independent retail trade.

Pet Packaging

In the U.S., packaging suppliers such as Emsar, a pump manufacturer active in the personal care and fragrance markets, have also expanded into the pet care segment. To Des McEttrick, global marketing director, Emsar’s Squeeze Foamer—a BS/NG down-locking pump in a one-handed squeezable bottle with a foaming application—seemed a perfect fit for dog groomers and pet owners when the company was designating appropriate uses for its new pump. “It’s about convenience,” she says. “It just makes sense.”