How pet food brands are trying to create a market in India

According to Euromonitor International, the pet food category is worth Rs 2,284 crore

As the number of pet owners in India increases, the pet food market is poised to grow. However, pet food manufacturers are still trying to change the mindset of pet owners, most of whom prefer to feed their pets home-cooked meals, which are relatively inexpensive, rather than store-bought pet food.

Industry estimates show that the pet food market is growing at around 13-15% per year, with only 10-12% household penetration. According to Euromonitor International, the pet food category is worth Rs 2,284 crore; industry watchers say dog ​​food accounts for nearly 85% of that market.

There is undoubtedly room for growth, which is why the category is attracting interest from a number of Indian and multinational players, as well as entrepreneurs. Mars Pet Nutrition, Indian Broiler Group (Drools), Stylam Sydney, Cargill Inc, Nestlé (Purina Petcare) and Himalaya Drug Co. are some of the leading brands in the category.

High cost: a pet peeve

India has around 19 million pets, 80% of which are dogs. “The pet food market is experiencing strong double-digit growth due to an increase in the humanization of pets; people are willing to spend more on their pets,” says Neeraj Talele, Partner, Packaged Foods, Euromonitor International.

Pets may have come a long way in Indian homes – from watchdog to family member – but pet owners still hold back when it comes to pets. buy expensive pet food. “Packaged pet food for an average sized dog costs Rs 620 per week. Therefore, consumers invest in animal feed for the first 12 months of the animal’s life; and once the animal is an adult, it is put on a homemade diet to keep costs down,” says Dr. Shashank Sinha, National Sales Manager at Drools.

Low awareness of the high nutritional value of manufactured pet foods and their high cost has resulted in pet foods having “low calorie coverage” (stomach share) among pets. Ganesh Ramani, Managing Director of Mars Pet Nutrition India, says the contribution of manufactured dog food, in terms of calorie consumption, is now in the mid-figures.

According to industry watchers, most sales come from Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru, due to higher brand awareness in these cities. Brands are stepping up their marketing efforts in Tier II and III cities, where consumer retention is a challenge.

Try and buy

Pet food brands don’t tend to invest heavily in mainstream media for advertising; instead, they spend their marketing budgets to acquire consumers through activations at pet events/shows, sampling at veterinary clinics and pet stores, discounts, awareness campaigns , etc

The consumer acquisition cost is therefore high in this category. Also, since the number of target households is much smaller than in other categories such as FMCG, consumer acquisition is more difficult in this category.

“The perception among consumers is that a high investment in purchasing pet food is risky as the pet may not like the food, thus wasting it. Therefore, we have introduced sachets of Rs 10 for cats and dogs,” says Sinha.

Even established brands like Pedigree are concerned about the right pricing of products. “When we launched the Biscrok brand of biscuits in India last year, 50g packs priced at Rs 15 were introduced, to encourage pet owners to try the new product. We also have Pedigree available in 100g sachets for Rs 20,” says Ramani.

The brands focus on supermarkets, grocery stores and pharmacies in addition to veterinary clinics and pet stores for offline distribution. They also rely heavily on e-commerce to complement distribution and sales.

According to Talele, “The rapid growth of pet food sales through e-commerce is one of the factors contributing to deep market penetration.” E-commerce reduces barriers for pet food brands to amplify distribution in Tier II and III markets. Brands are also using influencers and celebrities to spread the word. Actors Disha Patani and Jacqueline Fernandez endorse Drools. Pedigree also runs a consumer engagement initiative which is aided by influencer marketing.

There are also players operating in the niche category, catering to a section of hyper-aware consumers who aren’t afraid to spend. “There is a significant market for organic treats and natural products among high-end consumers in metropolises,” says Bhupendra Khanal, founder and CEO of Dogsee Chew, a pet food company.

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