Nielsen Insights: Consumers are Demanding 'Humanized' Pet Food 4/1/2016
There isn’t much people won’t do for their pets, and this sentiment has only strengthened over the past few years. In the United States, 95% of pet owners currently consider their pets to be part of the family—up seven points from 2007, according to Harris Poll research. This trend correlates with the growth of certain pet food segments, including healthy treats, specialty pet foods and other more premium options.
According to a new Nielsen study, 86% of U.S. consumers feel that the quality of their pets’ food is as important as their own. Increasingly, pet owners are moving from expectations of “high quality (for pets)” to “humanized,” that is, they desire pet food options that address the same health concerns currently influencing human food production, such as unnatural preservatives and genetically modified ingredients.
When Nielsen asked dog owners to react to product concepts sporting a wide range of health claims—from traditional pet food attributes such as “scientifically formulated” to those associated more closely with human food, such as “organic”—these claims emerged as most desirable to consumers:
Among both dog and cat owners, the claim “no genetically modified” ingredients beat out all other claims—echoing the human food trend toward natural, simpler and less processed ingredients. More than half of consumers who preferred non-GMO claims felt that the long-term impact of GMOs on health is unknown so they prefer to play it safe, and that they themselves don’t want to eat GMOs so their pets shouldn’t have to. Impressively, 43% of consumers said they’d be willing to pay more for pet foods with “non-GMO” claims.
In addition to using higher quality, less artificial ingredients, pet brands may also be able to capitalize on opportunities for new pet food forms. While fruit chews and nutrient-enhanced waters have enjoyed considerable successful in the human food realm, it may be tough to imagine purchasing these types of products for one’s pet. However, American consumers may not think them so far-fetched; nearly half of pet owners expressed interest in fruit or vegetable chews, making this the most favored new product form among both dog and cat owners. While dog owners tend to show more enthusiasm across the other options, vitamin-enriched water was the clear runner-up among cat owners.