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Tactics Watch - Consumer Survey

Price Point Still Focus for Private Label Pet Consumers

November 26, 2012

If retailers want to bring customers to buy their private label pet food and pet care products, they will have to maintain their price advantage over national brands.

That’s the findings of the latest research done exclusively for PLBuyer by Consumer Science, a Dallas/Ft. Worth-based consumer research firm. Respondents came from Consumer Science’s 400-member U.S. online panel.

A whopping 68 percent of respondents said the reason they bought private label pet food and pet care products was because they were less expensive than the national brands. Well behind the curve were those who said their product was only available in private label form, and those choosing other reasons. The weakest response, with about 5 percent of respondents choosing it, was the quality being better than national brands.

And that plays straight into the hands of the national brands in the category, the research shows.

“National brands were trusted far more for quality and safety than the store brands, and also for value, although with a smaller margin,” the report says.
In terms of quality, nearly 60 percent of respondents said national brands were better quality than private label products. Less than 5 percent favored the quality of private label products to national brands.

The almost identical response came to the safety of the product. Slightly fewer people said that national brands were safer than private brands, but even fewer respondents said private brands were safer than national brands.

“Reasons given for trusting national brands more on quality and safety included recommendations from a vet, longevity, and reputation,” the report says. “In the case of value, respondents choosing national brands cited a wider variety available and the ability to buy on promotion or using coupons. Those choosing store brands cited a comparable product at a better price.”

The survey also showed that shoppers who bought private label products often bought national brands in the category as well. Only 7 percent of respondents said they bought private label products exclusively, but more than 40 percent said they bought both private label and national brand products in the category.

“Women showed a significant preference for national brand products,” the report says, “with 57 percent buying them, compared to 26 percent of men.”

Retailers and suppliers interested in what might be next in the category were told that consumers would like to see more corn-free foods in the category, as well as foods that smell better. Other consumer suggestions included cheaper organic foods – an idea that could open itself to plenty of private label opportunities – and a “waterproof” dog bed for young and old dogs.

Of the 400 respondents, 96 percent of those surveyed said they had cats or dogs. Of those, mass merchandisers such as Walmart or Target were the most popular place to buy pet food and pet care products, with 32 percent saying they shopped there. Just behind that was specialty pet stores such as Petco and Petsmart.

“There was a significant link between the shopping destination and the reason for shopping that destination,” the report says. “Price was the overriding reason for mass merchandisers (57 percent of those shopping there), club stores (63 percent citing price as the reason for shopping there), and dollar stores (100 percent of respondents citing price as their motivation).

“Convenience was the main reason for supermarkets (67 percent of those shopping there) and a significant reason for mass merchandisers (40 percent). The main reason for shopping the specialty pet stores was the product/brand being only being available there (52 percent).”

Finally, as private label pet products look to increase their exposure to premium tiers, respondents said that the key was providing premium ingredients and flavor to the table.

More than 65 percent of respondents said that premium ingredients and flavor were their primary reason for buying a premium pet product. Healthy additives were the next-most important choice, followed by natural/organic and fresh/refrigerated.

“Women valued natural/organic significantly more than men, with 36 percent ranking it first or second, compared with 13 percent of men,” the report says. “Men valued fresh/refrigerated significantly more than women, with 39 percent ranking it first or second, compared with 15 percent of women.”

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