I recently went to the PATS pet industry show in Sandown, and found myself delighted and a bit overwhelmed by how vibrant and fun the category has become. It seems that everyone has gotten the memo that modern pet owners love their animals like they love their children. And as such, they have an aspirational desire to give their pets the healthiest, happiest lives possible.
This newfound obsession for furry creatures has led to a boom in the market with the value of the sector on course to hit £7billion by 2021 according to AMA Research. Mintel discovered that this pet love is so intense that a whopping 51% of pet care buyers would “rather cut back spending money on themselves than on their pets.” These attitudes and willingness to spend has reinvigorated the category with a sweep of rebrands as well as a pack of wild challengers entering the game.
So, when walking down the pet care aisle, consumers can expect to be hit with splashes of colour with cheeky copy in bold typography. A hyper-focus on quality ingredients with the volume on the cute factor turned all the way up. It’s peppy and playful and active and bright. Very fun to look at, but also a very, very difficult landscape for a brand to stand out.
It’s a classic market saturation story. New brands rush in, full energy and personality. Established brands follow suit by adding zest and pop into their branding to remain relevant. But in trying to capture the hearts and spend of pet consumers, this quirkier-is-better approach has become conventional. Everyone is trying to act like a challenger, and now they’re all in danger becoming a ‘me too’ brand.
The temptation to be colourful and playful is understandable especially with the particular zeal of modern pet owners, but pet care brands, mass and niche alike, must ask themselves if this is the right strategy for them.
Sunhouse’s recent masterbrand redesign of IAMS brings out the joy of good nutrition without compromising the brand’s rich heritage and authoritative standing as nutritional pet care experts. Yes, there are happy cats and dogs leaping across the pack, but the true hero is still the IAMS brand.
The logo shines prominently at the centre with clear and immediate communication of the brand’s functional vitality claims. It’s bold and modern by being clean and singular. No distracting clutter or flashy colours are necessary. It’s confident, credible and trustworthy, so it doesn’t need to be loud.
It’s an exciting time for the pet care category and the time is nigh for brands to review and refresh their creative strategies. But as with any category, each pet brands must find their true and authentic voice in order to differentiate themselves from the barking mad crowd.
Joanna Peirce is a business development and senior account director at Sunhouse Creative.