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Setting the Standard in Petcare

Setting the Standard in Petcare

A Crufts winner that was different to the standard, a typically cringeworthy Apprentice episode to create a new dog food brand (Pro-Paw anyone!?) and a trip to Pets at Home to research hamsters has led to us thinking and talking about the pet category in the BGN studio more than normal.

And I am sure, we are not alone…

The pet food category is incredibly attractive and there has been significant investment, activity and a flurry of new product innovation and new brand challengers popping up over the last few years.

There are plenty of reasons to envy this category….

1) It is huge.

The global pet care category is estimated to reach $255 billion by 2027.

2) It has high engagement.

People love their pets like babies, so they really invest in what they buy as they want the best for their ‘fur babies’ and will spend a lot of money. The desire for premiumisation within this category isn’t just a pipedream.

3) It is considered relatively recession proof.

People would rather economise in other areas than change and risk upsetting their pet’s routine.

4) It has a constant flow of new category buyers.

First time pet owners are prime to be influenced and educated and develop their own set of habits in the category.

5) The category follows human trends which make it more predictable.

If we look at broad wellness and food trends, and even wider at other cultural trends, we can see the same reflected in pet a couple of years down the line.

6) Brand is critical.

The role of brand is significant within this category, and positioning and design play a really important role to tell your brand story.

At BGN, we help brands to define and set the standard in their space. Be that to lift the standard, create a new standard or even to challenge and disrupt the existing standards.

So we have looked at eight brands within the pet care category who we believe are doing just that and what the implications are for other brands and sectors…

Setting the standard in DTC: Naturaw

With a premium ready-meal look and a brand that carries this visual identify consistently across all its touchpoints, from its website to social feed, this raw dog food brand is visually impressive, the food lives up to expectations and it is also a B Corp business to boot.

Used by our co-founder Antonio for his pooch Rosa, he says “I am a big advocate of raw food for dogs, but as it is raw, the food isn’t necessarily something you can compete on, so then design and brand becomes a key differentiator. And Nuturaw is head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to that."

Implications: Borrowing codes from other categories is a great avenue for inspiration. What is the future of DTC and how can you use this channel to leverage your proposition?

Setting a new standard for communications and positioning: ManyPets

Many Pets, a pet insurance brand, could just have focused on reminding us how expensive a vet’s bill can be in their quest for owners to sign up for insurance. Instead, they took a playful approach to set a new standard for comms in a traditionally functional and transactional category. ‘Insure your happiness’ is a highly impactful campaign built around the insight that owning a pet improves our mental and physical health.

Implications: How can you shift the focus of your category on its head to a more emotive and positive benefit? How can you stop people with intriguing visuals and headlines?

Setting next level standards for own label branding: Kindfull (Target US)

We love this simple yet beautiful design from the US, which is Target’s own-label brand Kindfull, but you wouldn’t know it to look at. Most own-label brands tend to copy the dominant category codes and conventions, so it is refreshing to see this brand have its own distinctive identity. Kindfull bravely uses white too, but still manages to retain a premium feel.

Implications: how can retailers raise the standard for their own label to differentiate rather than copying the standards?

Setting bold standards: Solid Gold

There has been a shift from photography to illustration in pet over the last few years, as we have seen in other categories. There are many forms of illustration, from the wholesome Lilly’s and Forthglade, to the cartoon-like Good Boy treats brand, but we think US brand Solid Green has taken illustration to a different level. Like a psychedelic dream with bold and vibrant pattens, it certainly doesn’t play into the simplicity of design trends we increasingly see. You can’t ignore this brand on the shelf, in your cupboard or in your social feed.

Implications: How do you dare to be different in a way that you can’t fail to be seen? How do you take a different approach to a category standard or convention, in this case illustration?

Disrupting the category standard: Crave

When Crave came out in 2017, it seemed to gain lots of listings quickly. Being owned by category leaders Mars certainly won’t have done the brand any harm, but it genuinely looked different to anything else on the shelf. Those large menacing eyes almost seem to follow you. In a busy cluttered category, this level of standout and creating something different is clearly important to stop shoppers in their tracks. But did it appeal to a big enough group of pet owners? Post Covid, there are still a few listings in store, but it doesn’t seem to have the presence it once did.

Implications: It is critical to be distinctive in a competitive market to attract new shoppers, but there still has to be a good level of interest to drive penetration and the product must also live up to expectations.

Identifying a way to enter the category based on the standards you bring from other categories: Multiple fashion and consumer brands

From Barbour pet collars, doggie fitbits and our own client Slumberdown making pet beds, there are plenty of ways that non-pet brands are getting in on the action of this lucrative market by using their own standards. This feels like a big opportunity for non-food pet categories like toys, accessories, grooming and beauty/wellbeing (Neom dog stress relief candles would be amazing!) but also for traditional pet food brands to extend their brands too across sector.

Implications: There is so much opportunity for non-pet specialists to enter the pet category bringing with them their own category credentials and equity.

Setting a new standard for brand stretch: (and great pack navigation): Pooch & Mutt

Not one to have a favourite… but there really is so much to love about this ‘good mood food’ pet brand. From the simple but clever logo, the colours and the stripped back benefit led copy that really help navigate the packs.

However, of all the things that Pooch & Mutt are doing well, their brand stretch from traditional food into supplements and functional treats and even poo bags/accessories is to be applauded! On their website you can shop by need-state to create a bespoke bundle of products to help. I think this shows the desire to create a holistic pet brand created around the brand promise. We expect to see more stretch from this brand in the future.

Implications: Brand stretch to other segments allows your brand to be seen more and build a broader equity. Where can you credibly stretch?

Consistent use of their distinctive standards: Felix

Of course, we love to look at what challenger brands are doing as there is always so much going on, but the established brands still dominate the volume share of category sales and Felix continues to be highly successful. And whilst 'Felix the Cat' may have evolved over time, this valuable brand asset is still highly recognisable and used across all assets. In the most recent visual identity, 'Felix the Cat' plays a role front and centre of pack, looking at you directly, which we know is a powerful visual tool.

Implications: Protect and amplify your brand assets over time despite the temptation to drop them for fear of being dusty and old. Respect their worth, evolve them accordingly and put them everywhere….

So there you have it, eight ways different brands are raising, challenging and lifting standards within a category.

Get in touch if you want to know more about how we can help you raise the standard with your brand.

We’re BGN, a brand led design and creative agency and we help ambitious brand set the standard in their space.

A sorry, not sorry, shameless photo of our BGN pets...