The Importance of Puppy and Kitten

By Joe Toscano, Vice President, Trade & Industry Development at Purina

With so many people spending more time at home, pet adoption and fostering has increased dramatically. In fact, during the first month of most stay-at-home orders, Petfinder saw adoption inquiries jump 122 percent between March 15 and April 15 compared to the four weeks prior. A spike in adoptions indicates a potential rise in the number of pets in households and possibly an increase of households to the pet category. With roughly four out of five dog and cat acquisitions being puppies and kittens, puppy and kitten formulas already held great potential for growth prior to the pandemic with a 1.8 percent annual growth rate for the puppy and kitten category. The spike in adoptions and fostering could accelerate that growth rate.

The first purchase with puppy and kitten is a lucrative one as it typically includes leashes, bowls and toys, but the interesting thing is that consumers tend to stay with the store for future pet purchases. If retailers can win with puppy and kitten, they can expect to see an increase in channel loyalty and additional sales in areas outside of pet as consumers seek additional cleaning items and to replace broken items.

New pet parents should know that just because puppies and kittens will put almost anything in their mouths, it doesn’t mean they should. Like their human counterparts, young dogs and cats have specific nutrition requirements to support their rapid growth and development. Puppies and kittens bodies are fast-growing, but unlike babies, they pack all their growth into a few short years. Puppies and kittens need higher level of calories and protein, DHA, antioxidants and bioactive substances for the first one to two years.

There are multiple ways to capitalize on the power of puppy and kitten. Below are some strategies retailers can leverage to capture the puppy and kitten households.

  • At Shelf. Shelve kitten and puppy formulates with their parent brand and ensure an optimal assortment of SKUs. Purina has the top performing brands with Puppy Chow and Purina ONE Puppy along with Kitten Chow and Purina ONE Kitten in many flavors and forms to meet all of your puppy or kitten needs.
  • Educate. According to a 2017 Nielsen Homescan survey, households that acquire a puppy typically transition from to puppy food to an adult formula 5-6 months after acquisition, which is too early. Utilize signage to educate on the benefits of feeding puppy and kitten for the first one to two years before transitioning to adult formulas.
  • Timing. New adoptions happen year-round, but there is a spike for puppies and kittens through the summer months, typically May to August, and another spike in puppy adoptions in December. Retailers can capitalize on the timely bump with promotions and displays that let your consumers know you are in the pet business.
  • Cross-promotion. Puppy and kitten owners won’t just need food for their new little ones. Keep those customers in your store by cross-promoting the other cat and dog supplies you have including beds, toys and bowls.

Purina has a Puppy Event running from now through the end of the year to educate consumers on the benefits of feeding puppy food.  Most puppy owners believe puppies have unique needs (92 percent) but only 25 percent feed puppy food exclusively. Puppy owners don’t realize how important it is to feed puppy food to their pets. Purina will be offering merchandising vehicles, digital coupons, educational info, and other assets to support the event.  Please contact your Purina rep to create a customized event that meets you and your consumers’ needs.


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