Meijer Adopts Big Pet Food Brands
Leading pet food manufacturers Mars Petcare and Nestle Purina Petcare are facing challenges from smaller premium brands that appeal to shoppers who see feeding quality food to their pets as a logical extension of the changes to organic and natural foods they've made in their own diets. The pet food category is becoming increasingly competitive even as overall spending is expected to increase 4.2% year over year to reach $24 billion in 2016, according to a study by the American Pet Products Association.
While the category leaders remain important promotional partners for specialty pet stores such as Petco and PetSmart, both retailers are devoting more shelf space and marketing activity to new private labels and exclusive brands. Meanwhile, regional supermarket operators such as H-E-B and Southeastern Grocers this year dove deeper into the category by launching pet food private labels targeting value shoppers.
Mars and Nestle Purina have been fighting the competition with new product launches of their own and have found a promotional ally in Meijer. Known as one of the most collaborative retailers in the industry, the Midwestern mass merchant ran three significant programs this year to promote the latest offerings from the top dogs.
Responding to consumers' concern over what's in their pets' food, Nestle Purina's Beneful this summer introduced a new formula of its dry dog food boasting beef or chicken as the primary ingredient. At Meijer, dump bins and floor clings promoted the new recipe while dangling an mPerks coupon for $1 off the purchase of three SKUs of the brand's wet dog food from Aug. 14 to Sept. 10. Wet and dry food were merchandised together on endcap displays outfitted with headers promoting the new items' "no sugar added" claim. A supporting half-page feature in the retailer's Aug. 14/18 circular offered "buy one, get one 50% off" on the brand's products.
Mars' Sheba Meaty Tender Sticks cat treats enjoyed similar treatment when the product launched earlier this summer. Security wraps, floor clings and half-pallets in Meijer stores offered "buy one, get one free" on the new line or Mars' Temptations from June 19 to July 9 via an mPerks digital coupon. Some of the half-pallets also promoted an mPerks coupon valid from June 13 to July 9 that gave shoppers who purchased five SKUs of Sheba Perfect Portions five additional packages of the wet cat food.
Endcap displays that hit stores in late July further encouraged trial by offering free SKUs from Sheba Meaty Tender Sticks and Perfect Portions wet cat food with purchase of a bag of Mars' Iams dry cat food. Perfect Portions also earned secondary placement on power wings.
Digital support included a June 26 email that linked to a brand showcase within Meijer.com promoting both Sheba lines and hosting a promotional video for Perfect Portions. Sheba also ran a co-op FSI on July 17 spotlighting the "final cost" Meijer shoppers would pay for both lines using coupons found in the brand's main FSI.
Earlier in the year, Meijer heavily promoted Purina's spring launch of four new lines: Dog Chow Natural, DentaLife, Friskies Cat Concoctions and Busy with Beggin' Twist'd. Floor clings in store pet departments plugged various digital mPerks coupons available for the new SKUs, including:
- $2 off Purina DentaLife oral care dog treats from Feb. 28 to March 26.
- $1 off Purina Dog Chow Natural and Puppy Chow Natural dog food from March 6 to April 2. That deal was also promoted on security wraps.
- A free can of Friskies Cat Concoctions with purchase of five cans of Friskies cat food from Feb. 28 to April 2.
Another floor cling promised $10 off a future receipt with purchase of $60 worth of Purina products between March 13 and April 9 via the retailer's mPerks Rewards program. A March 17 circular feature, a March 13 Twitter update and an ad in a March 10 email also plugged the mPerks continuity offer. Simultaneously, treats from Purina's Busy, Alpo, Beggin' and Friskies Party Mix enjoyed secondary placement on national Easter-themed half-pallets.
An ad in a Feb. 28 email kicked off the marketing, linking to a manufacturer showcase within Meijer.com that in turn linked to pages for the new lines. Along with hosting product descriptions, all of the pages except DentaLife's included promotional videos.