Dominik gets home from work at around six o’clock but Roxy knows she’s coming as soon as she hears the handle on the front garden gate being lifted…
After a long and tiring day at work, Dominik finds herself elated again by Roxy’s own enjoyment. The two retire to the sofa and as night settles, Roxy moves to the specially made dog ‘bed’ that Dominik ‘gifted’ to her last Christmas.
While the close relationship between Dominik and Roxy is undoubtedly special, it is by no means unique – pet owners all over the world are enjoying more mutually loving and rewarding relationships than ever before. Largely gone are the days of keeping a pet in the backyard and feeding it scraps from the table… And pet owners aren’t just going above and beyond at mealtimes. As Bertrand de Launay, President of Diana Pet Food says, “pet humanization extends to pet care as well. That doesn’t just mean litter trays, but shampoos, massage creams, perfumes for your dog to wear. In some daycare centers for pets I’ve seen in the US, they even ask the owners whether their pets would ‘prefer’ to watch Fox News or CNN!” What’s more, 66% of UK pet-owners said that they buy presents and accessories for their pets to enjoy, and about 45% of Asian people think it’s common to throw a birthday party for their pets.
In other words, pets are now firmly part of the family. Pet owners have become ‘pet parents.’
of U.S. pet owners consider their pets to be part of the family
Mintel, ‘America’s Pet
of people in Latin America prefer their pets to their friends
Taringa! Survey, ‘Latin
of U.S. millennial pet owners believe it is essential to dine with their pets
Wakefield Research Survey, ‘New
petfood consumers: what US
millennials are looking for’, 2014
The pioneers of
Diana Pet Food
As you might expect, the move to pet parenting has major implications for the pet food and pet care industry. But in order to offer the best possible solutions and products for this evolving demographic, you first have to understand it as comprehensively as possible. In 2014, Symrise completed the acquisition of Diana Group, global leader in natural and nutritional ingredients with dedicated pet food business units.
At the forefront of this is the Diana Pet Food expert brand SPF, whose enhanced sensorial solutions have made them the worldwide leaders in pet palatability. Further brands such as Videka (long-lasting and natural pet food protection), Vivae (nutritious health and well-being ingredients for pets) and Odalia (unique scent and care solutions) have further laid the foundations for an expert response to the pet parenting trend.
Two years after the acquisition, Diana Pet Food bought a stake in the social network Yummypets, which we have since increased to a majority as we look to further capture the pet parenting market. The site, which enables owners to create profiles for their pets and interact with other pets/owners, isn’t just a cornucopia of cute cat and dog pictures – it also provides invaluable big data on the likes, dislikes and habits of increasingly influential pet parents. That data can be anonymized and grouped into consumer profiles, and while it is still early days, the insights from these profiles present a number of exciting possibilities for the pet brands that Diana work with. “Say you want to market a product to German Shepherd owners over 70 years old,” says de Launay, “we can provide access to a database of the most engaged consumers out there who fit that profile. Providers of pet insurance might want to reach owners of pets most likely to need medical care. Locally-elected officials might be interested to know that the sizeable number of dog owners in their district would respond favorably to a new local, dog-walking park…”
Living in Harmony
An understanding of pet behavior
Inevitably, it’s around mealtimes when the (scientific) magic happens. Each morning and evening, the animals are given a choice between two bowls, which are on scales connected to a special computer system. They’re also equipped with a chip on their collar that can track their physical movements and reactions both during and after eating, as well as in the longer term. The insights gained from this meticulous daily process play a direct role in ensuring that the solutions our customers bring to market get the best possible reaction from their canine and feline diners. “Pet food is very similar to the baby food market in some ways,” says de Launay. “Sure, the ‘parent’ makes the initial buying decision, but it’s the ‘baby’ that decides on repeat purchases. That’s why our ingredients are so crucial to pet manufacturers.”
Over the years, the R&D teams have developed innovative methods with specific indicators for tracking an animal level of enjoyment, in a way that is also visible and meaningful for the owner.
In many ways, it is the clearest recognition that the concept of pet food palatability is entering new dimensions. Pet parenting and the increasing emotional bond that exists between owner and pet means that it’s no longer just about the pet’s satisfaction – it’s about finding ways for the owner to understand, share in and enjoy the satisfaction that their pet is experiencing.
One only needs to take a look at Dominik and Roxy to see just how important that mutual joy is. It’s here, in the home, that our work around pet parenting comes to fruition: the evolved approach to palatability, the extended expertise into pet care products and the focus on pet and consumer insights that helps us understand ‘pet parenting’ like no other company.