5 Key Trends from Global Pet Expo
Over the past 12 years, Global Pet Expo has become the official launch pad for many pet product manufacturers' latest introductions to the marketplace. Positioned perfectly early on the calendar and garnering a great deal of attention from retail buyers and the media, the show simply lends itself to making a splash.
Of course, all of the new product introductions also make Global Pet Expo the perfect place to observe the key trends that can be expected to impact the pet industry throughout the rest of the year. Now, with another record-breaking edition of Global Pet Expo behind us, it is time to consider those trends that were on display at this year's show, and what their impact will be on the industry over the rest of the year.
A Fresh Approach to Packaging
While there was no shortage of unique products debuting at Global Pet Expo, I was particularly struck by what was often wrapped around many of those products. I noticed a variety of new packaging designs on display in exhibitors' booths, many of which were obviously inspired by what can be found in human consumer products. For example, there is now a class of pet treats and supplements that are available in single-serving squeezable tubes—similar to the yogurt products marketed for children—and some wet pet diets now come in Tetra Pak-style packaging (think shelf-stable milk containers), instead of cans. Of course, there were also a number of companies that debuted more modest packaging redesigns that simply featured updated aesthetics, not to mention more prominent and easier-to-read ingredient panels.
Topping Off a Healthy Diet
I have to give credit to our friends at GfK; the New York-based market research firm noticed the growing popularity of pet food toppers in the point-of-sale data that it collects from its panel of more than 11,000 pet specialty retailers. Well, that trend was in full force at Global Pet Expo, where many companies launched their latest additions to this emerging nutrition segment. From broths to freeze-dried bits, pet food toppers clearly represented one of the most robust categories for new product introductions.
Promoting Healthier Digestion
While it isn't necessarily new, another important nutrition trend that could be acutely observed in the aisles of Global Pet Expo is the growing popularity of products that utilize prebiotics and probiotics to foster healthy digestion in pets. In some case, these digestive-health elements are provided in supplement form, while in others they have been incorporated into food products to help pets fully absorb the other nutrients included in the diet.
Scaling Down is Going Up
Following the latest trends in pet ownership and consumer shopping patterns, which favor smaller dogs and smaller packages—particularly in the food segment—many pet product manufacturers introduced items designed specifically for small-breed dogs, as well as smaller bag options for their established diets. While these trends do present a challenge to retailers, in terms of moving a high-volume of product, the relatively high margins and repeat-traffic potential that come with smaller pet food bags can go a long way in driving register rings.
High-Tech in High Demand
At this point, it should come as no surprise that consumers' love for their electronic gadgets is now spilling over to the pet world. However, I don't remember any previous trade show where high-tech pet product introductions were out in such force. From bowls to litter boxes to doggie doors, it seemed that just about every class of pet product Global Pet Expo was available in a form that could be paired with an app on a pet owners' mobile device.
Of course, this is just scratching the surface of what could be found at this year's Global Pet Expo. For more from the show, check out the special Global Pet Expo section of our website, and be sure to get your copy of Pet Business magazine's May issue, where we will have extensive post-show coverage.