The Kisaco Research Petcare Innovation Summit is taking place in London this week with pet brands, industry experts and investors sharing what’s next for the pet industry.
These were my key takeaways from the two day event.
We need to be more measured in our decisions to get a pet
We can get whatever we want at the click of a button but Sam Worthy from tailwise.com, an app and website connecting would be owners with ethical breeders, wants us to slow down.
He hopes his platform will fix the ‘broken pet purchase process’, push unethical breeders to the margins, and aims to educate pet parents to choose the right pet for their lifestyle.
Social media is driving demand for pets
There has been a huge rise in ownership of Dachshunds and French Bulldogs who look cute in posts.
But it’s also leading to dogs being dumped. With rescues struggling to cope, we need to remember a dog is for life, not just for Instagram.
Learn more on Sam Worthy – www.tailwise.com
Diet needs to change if we’re going to tackle obesity
Holistic Vet Nick Thompson ended the final day with a passionate plea to feed raw and fresh food over carb heavy kibble.
A shocking 70 per cent of the UK and US pet population is obese and diabetes has risen 900 per cent.
Being overweight has been proven to take two years off a dog’s life by Professor Alex German from the Weight Management clinic at Liverpool University.
One in two dogs has cancer, higher than any other species and Nick believes diet and lifestyle plays a huge part.
Learn more on Nick Thompson – https://holisticvet.co.uk/
Learn more on Alex German – http://www.pet-slimmers.com/
Technology can take the overwhelm away for new owners
Behaviourist Caroline Wilkinson from Barketplace shared her innovative GetPup App which takes the stress out of pet parenting and reduces the chance of dogs needing rehoming.
It connects pet parents with trusted brands from insurers to food and toys, tracks development and offers behavioural support and encouragement.
We turn to our phones for answers for everything so it makes sense to have a one stop shop app for caring for our pets.
Learn more on Caroline Wilkinson – www.barketplace.uk
Pets bring communities together
Rikke Rosenlund of BorrowMyDoggy shared how her app was tackling loneliness and bringing together pet owners in need of support and people who want time with a dog.
She told heartwarming stories of borrowers taking their part time pups on holidays and how one couple even got married after meeting on the platform.
Learn more on Rikke Rosenlund – www.borrowmydoggy.com
Lucy’s Law will have a massive impact on the pet population
Nigel Baker from The Pet Industry Federation did a fantastic job of chairing the event and opened and closed by talking about the impact of Lucy’s Law which is to ban third party puppy sales.
It comes in this April. He explained there is an estimated 800,000 puppies required each year to keep the UK dog population at 9.5 million based on figures from the Pet Food Manufacturers Association.
With only 250,000 registered with the Kennel Club it begs the question where the remaining 550,000 will come from. He said: “If Lucy’s Law sticks we expect the dog population to fall by around 12 per cent a year and there’s a concern people will be driven underground.”
Find out more about Nigel Baker – www.petcare.org.uk
Data can help our pets
We can be wary of the data organisations hold on us. Charlotte Halkett from Bought By Many shared how they were using data for good.
After many calls from anxious puppy owners who were dashing to the vets when their dogs were sick, they introduced free teleconsultations.
It’s led to swifter reassurance for owners, fewer stressful and unnecessary trips to the vets for pets and less claims.
Learn more on Charlotte Halkett – www.boughtbymany.com
We need to remember the cats!
So much of the conversation was about products and services for dogs but what about the cats?
Elif Polat from Euromonitor revealed there are .3 dogs per household in the UK and .3 cats. Let’s not have them feline left out!
On Day 2 Tania Moser from Pets Deli talked about Innovation in Cat Food and revealed there are 73 premium dog foods and only 31 for cats.
She says this is due to cats being more choosy.
By creating content that answers common questions and involving their customers in creating new flavours and products, Pets Deli has become a market leader.
Learn more on Tania Mosor – https://www.petsdeli.de/
Owners want clean, convenient food in packaging that’s kind to the planet
We are so conscious of pet health and giving them long, happy lives. And as well as being fresh, food needs to be ethically packaged too.
Jurgen Degrande’s Edgard and Cooper range has become the fastest growing food brand in Europe.
The three things that retain their customers are that it’s made from 100% fresh meat, packaging is made from plants and is fully biodegradable and they give back to dogs in need.
Last year 3000 owners went to their ‘Meet and Treat’ event and they came 250,000 Euros to projects for animals needing help.
Pet food brand Pure was voted Best in Show for their dehydrated food solutions for pet parents.
Backed by Yorkshire Vet Julian Norton Pure comes in dry portions and is mixed with water to make a warm meal. It has a long shelf life, weighs less and can be shipped all over the world.
Learn more about Jurgen Degrande – https://uk.edgardcooper.com/
Learn more about Daniel Valdur Eha – https://www.purepetfood.com/
Not everyone is a millennial
Jamie Brannan from Zoetis said: “Millennials want a dog but they don’t want to leave a screen.”
A huge 42% of millennials own pets and it’s why personalisation brands and subscription services are thriving.
The two largest groups of owners are aged 20-35 and 45-60 so it would be great to see more talk about the older pet owners (like me aged 44).
Plant based pet food can be tasty
Valerie Henssen from German pet food brand VegDog told how they created the first plant based diet 14 years ago for Nelson, who suffered with food allergies.
They worked on creating a tasty plant based formula and it’s now used by search and rescue dogs, athletes and pets recovering from illness – they sold 10,000 units in 2019.
Learn more about Valerie Henssen – https://www.vegdog.de/
Publicity and Influencers work if done right
Dylan Watkins from Poppy’s Picnic told how featuring on Dragon’s Den and Come Dine With Me, where he was the first to feed guests dog food, was phenomenal for his brand.
A huge 83% of women use social media for purchase advice 70% of teens trust influencers more than celebs.
Tania Moser from Pets Deli said: “Influencers need to love your product with their whole heart and then it works out.”
Learn about Dylan Watkins – https://poppyspicnic.co.uk/
Want investment? Have a great product!
Stickiness – or customer retention, a good team and a scaleable business that offers something really different that resonates with owners are the key attractions for investment.
Asked about a checklist for acquisition, Richard Setterwell, founder of DogBuddy replied: “Have a great product.”
Vets need to create a seamless end of life experience
Saying goodbye is the hardest part of pet ownership and David Lonsdale from August Private Equity spoke about the corporatisation of vets.
He said that vets need to collaborate with funeral and cremation providers, even bereavement counsellors, to support owners when they need it most.
It’s most likely in time they will have another pet and showing compassion will ensure customers remain loyal.
Keep people shouting about you
One session was about how to scale and expand into new markets with John Howie of Lintbells, Sarah Kaye of Pet Food UK (they make Barking Heads) and Michael Hurnaus of Tractive.
They shared the things that worked, and their mistakes, but even for businesses with multi million turnovers, the message was not to take your foot of the gas.
Sarah said: “To keep the product on the shelf you need to keep people shouting about it.”
Michael added that word of mouth is key. “If a product is right, people will pick it up and refer it.”
Learn more on Sarah Kaye – https://barkingheads.co.uk/
Read about John Howie – www.Lintbells.com
Find out about Michael Hurnaus – https://tractive.com/
Stick to a few things and do them well
It can be easy to try to offer a range of products and services to try and please everyone.
Michael of Tractive told when he first created his GPS tracker people said they wanted it for kids, family members, straying partners.
But he stuck to dogs and cats and is a market leader. He said: “Focus on the one thing that has the most potential.”
Sarah added: “Do a few things well rather than try to do everything.”
Were you at the event? I’d love to know your thoughts on it and what your takeaways were, so if you’d like to a chat, e mail me, email@example.com
If you enjoyed this post, you might like to read: Pets and Money 2019