Sponsored by Nestlé Purina
There are a number of reasons why the 94 million cats in U.S. households are finding more wet food in their dish these days.
The most basic reason is preference. Sixty-nine percent of pet parents feed wet food simply because it’s very well-liked by their cats, according to the Cat Food Regimen 2015. Others choose to feed wet food because they know that the moisture helps keep their cats well hydrated.
The desire to offer their cat variety is another purchase driver. In the wild, cats source a wide range of prey, so pet parents are feeding those natural cravings by offering a range of textures and tastes found in wet cat food. In fact, 71 percent of pet parents report buying wet cat food due to variety (Cat Food Regimen 2015).
Ultimately, buying wet cat food helps pet parents meet the needs of their cats, which can lead to stronger bonds with their finicky companions. The same Cat Food Regimen report found that fifty-two percent feed their cats wet food because it makes them feel like a good pet parent.
So why should retailers care? Because wet cat shoppers are a valuable segment. The 27.2 million U.S. households that purchase wet cat food also make more shopping trips and spending more per household than other cat shoppers.
According to Nielsen Homescan Panel Data (52 weeks ending 12/30/17), wet cat households make 12.6 trips per year and spend an average of $105 on wet cat food over the course of the year. That’s compared to 6.5 trips and $82 spent per year by dry cat shoppers, 5.9 trips and $69 spent per year by litter buyers, and 5.4 trips and $28 spent per year by cat treat purchasers.
Much like the animals they care for, these shoppers often have distinct preferences. While variety of inventory is their top consideration when choosing a retailer, different shoppers define “variety” differently.
The Cat Food Regimen study indicates that shoppers look for a range in pricing or packaging, i.e. bigger cans to feed multiple cats, while others look for variety in flavors, protein and product forms. Getting the product mix right for these shoppers isn’t just important, it’s critical because wet cat shoppers will simply leave if you don’t satisfy their needs.
In fact, one in five wet cat buyers will delay their purchase rather than settle for a substitute when they come across an out of stock item, according to Walk Rates Research, 2018. That’s the highest walk rate among all cat shoppers.
The good news is that the trends favor growth in wet cat food.
There’s potential to expand consumption among existing category users. In fact, 46 percent of current wet cat food shoppers say they wish they could feed their cat wet food more often (Cat Food Regimen 2015).
Demographic trends also favor the segment. Millennials (who are now the largest pet-owning generation) are choosing cats more than generations past, and they’re showing a proclivity for owning multiples as well. According to Pet Attitude Tracker (Q1, 2016), 35 percent of Millennials said they plan to acquire another pet within the next 12 months.
Both of these factors are good signs for continued growth in the wet cat food segment. Stocking the right product assortment, featuring wet cat in eye-catching displays and offering regular promotions will be the critical factors in which retailers succeed at capturing this valuable shopper.