Pet owners are shifting the way they shop for their furry friends

Online food options for pets have increased as consumers have shifted how they shop for their furry companions, Nielsen indicates.

The global measurement and data analytics company explains that given the plethora of choice across the market, from outlets such as local pet stores, big box retailers, vet clinics and online retailers, as well as the pace of change across channels and formats, it’s critical for brands and marketers to keep a multichannel approach to sales.

Across Nielsen’s omnichannel universe, the US spent almost $33 billion on pet food and treats in the last year.

Compared with a year ago, this represents an increase of 5 per cent, or $1.5 billion in sales.

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Although volume growth has been slow for the pet sector, pet food and treats are still driving much-needed growth to the overall fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) space, particularly in the online retail landscape.

Relative to the 5 per cent growth across online and offline pet consumables, e-commerce sales of pet consumables increased 53 per cent this year.

The online growth figures alone might set alarm bells ringing for brick-and-mortar pet retailers, but consumers aren’t flat-out abandoning physical stores in favour of e-commerce.

According to Nielsen’s Digital Shopping Fundamentals research, one-in-two pet owners indicate that they don’t ever plan to shop for or purchase pet items online.

Although vet clinics, pet superstores and neighborhood pet stores are seeing reduced sales overall, mainstream and neighborhood pet retailers continue to find ways to resonate with pet owners and post modest growth alongside the rapid growth of online sales.

This year, upwards of $16 billion in pet food flew through mainstream brick-and-mortar doors, up nearly 2 per cent from a year ago.

Consumption has slowed, with tonnage of pet food by the pound down 1 per cent in this same timeframe.

In many cases, this uptick in sales can be linked to the influx of premium pet food brands on mainstream-store shelves.

Much like people food, consumers no longer have to go far to find a premium assortment of pet products for their furry, scaly and feathered friends, Nielsen explains.