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Exploring Opportunities in Pet Health and Wellness Through the Lens of Need States

3/11/2024
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The trend of anthropomorphising one’s pet has evolved significantly over the years. From addressing basic welfare to now creating opportunities for them to thrive, pet humanisation is becoming increasingly sophisticated. This is spilling into the pet health and wellness space where consumers are not only aware of their pets’ core physical needs but also their emotional and mental wellbeing.

In today’s world, as people lay focus on the desired outcome of their consumption, they are extending this outlook to their pets as well. As owners seek specific benefits for their pets, the concept of need states comes to the fore.

Need states in pets is still a nascent concept, but its exploration can serve as a potent fuel to inform pet care product innovation processes

Source: Euromonitor International

The framing of need states in pet health is a relatively unexplored territory, but an understanding of the current state of the industry indicates that the most conceivable need states in the pet universe cover the broader territories of physical and physiological on one hand, to the more emotional and mental on the other.Chart showing Need States in Pet HealthPhysical and physiological wellbeing takes centre stage

When it comes to pet healthcare, the spectrum of a pet’s physical and physiological wellbeing remains core. It is one of the primary need states pet owners tend to focus on, especially for the visible evidence it offers. In this regard, there are segments of pet owners who look beyond calorific intake and seek functional benefits such as good digestive health, better mobility, and immune system health.

While pet food forms the primary source of nutrition and a key medium through which functional benefits are being deployed, pet treats are also witnessing an evolution where functional benefits are making their way into offerings. On the pet food front, Euromonitor International’s Product Claims and Positioning system shows how over the years online availability of SKUs with health-related claims has grown. Such claims play a key role in communicating health-specific benefits of a product.Chart showing Performance of Select Health Claims in Pet Food 2019-2022Functional benefits are also making their way into pet treat offerings as well. As per Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Consumer: Health and Nutrition Survey (fielded February 2023), globally, the frequency of treating a pet daily or almost daily increased from 26% in 2021 to 29% in 2023. However, with health awareness in mind, consumers are going beyond indulgence and looking for nourishing, healthy and functional treats for their pets. Brands are also positioning their treats based on the benefits they offer. ACANA, for instance, launched a range of high-protein functional dog treats in September 2023. The line offers three varieties, with each recipe providing support for a key health benefit, such as immune system support, hip and joint support, and skin, coat and digestive support. 

An increasingly important component of holistic wellness in pets is the usage of pet dietary supplements. As owners look to proactively manage the quality and longevity of their pet’s life, pet dietary supplements are increasingly making their way into homes. This is also indicated by the growth recorded by the category.

Over the review period (2018-2023), global pet dietary supplements recorded a 9% value CAGR to reach USD2.1 billion in 2023

Source: Euromonitor International

Pet owners are adopting a more proactive approach in managing their pet’s health, creating opportunities for maintenance, and prevention-focused offerings in the non-therapeutic space.

The burgeoning space of emotional and mental need states in pets

Emotional and mental health of a pet is a crucial component of their overall wellbeing. Human understanding of this aspect of pet health stems, once again, from growing awareness about the same in the self. When it comes to pet emotional and mental health management, options can range from play and behavioural training to consumables that address needs such as stress, anxiety and relaxation. Within consumables, ingredients play a key role in conveying expected benefits. Brands are formulating with ingredients that range from the familiar, including chamomile, omega 3 and 6, L-theanine and valerian, to the contentious, such as CBD.

Beyond mood and behaviour management, training and engagement are essential to enabling a pet to thrive. While treats are well-known to support training activities, engagement activities such as play might seem like a space exclusively for pet toy manufacturers. However, pet food brands should not shy away from exploring opportunities in this space. In May 2023, Nestlé Purina launched Friskies Playfuls – cat treats with shape and design intended to encourage play.

Brands that incorporate elements of play into mealtimes or treating occasions can create a strong association between play and their brand

Source: Euromonitor International

From an industry perspective, ingredients and formats that address emotional and mental need states have the potential to drive category innovation and growth.

The way ahead

As pet owners are becoming increasingly discerning of expected outcomes, core benefits such as digestive health, skin and coat, mobility, immunity, and stress management are making their way into product development across different pet care categories. However, the topic of need states in pet health needs deeper investigation. Understanding the role technology and AI can play in this is also warranted. AI has the potential to power the future of pet healthcare, where it can not only aid in the discovery of need states, but also drive hyper-customisation which could serve as the value proposition for premiumisation.

Fundamentally, as human needs and desires reshape over time, their wants for their pets are also likely to mimic their own. Brands that understand changing patterns early on have the potential to create and shape categories.

Further insights into need states in pet health can be found in our report Holistic Wellness in Pet Care: Creating Value Through Broader Need States, and you can read our blog article on Growth and Expansion of Pet Dietary Supplements for further insights into Pet Dietary Supplements.

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