Choosing pet food

Goals

To find information on the factors that pet owners consider when choosing food for their cats and dogs. Information to be researched will include: What influences the decision of pet owners and whether their reasoning is different if they've had a pet before and whether first-time dog owners have different criteria for buying specific foods as opposed to experienced ones.

Early Findings

  • Pet owners are very passionate about their dog or cat’s diet and the pet food choices they’ve made i.e. whether it’s a home cooked or raw meat diet, treats or supplements, or the many other pet food trends and practices that have been in the industry in the last few years.
  • Americans love their pets and spend a significant amount of money on them. This is evident from the more than $75 billion spent on pets in 2019, where $31.68 billion was spent on pet food.
  • Currently, persuasive marketing claims made on "nutrition, diets, and ingredients have made it challenging for even the best-intentioned pet owners to make good decisions."
  • Marketing has resulted in confusion leading to pet owners making pet food decisions with a basis on marketing information over solid facts.
  • In reference to a recent research study, dog owners reported that making a choice on the right pet food was the most difficult part of pet ownership.
  • A survey that received over 2,100 responses reported that more than 40% of the surveyed pet owners indicated that "buying healthy food for their pets was even more important than buying healthy food for themselves."
  • From the results of the above survey, a key consideration when purchasing pet food is the health factor of the foods.
  • One of the current trends in pet food choice is in how more Americans are increasingly feeding their dogs and cats fresh foods.

Proposed next steps:

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As information on the considerations behind pet food purchase appear to be available in the public domain, we recommend additional research to find insights on what influences the purchasing decision of pet owners and whether their reasoning is different if they've had a pet before and whether first-time dog/cat owners have different criteria for buying specific foods as opposed to experienced ones.
We also recommend research to identify at least 3 of the current trends witnessed in pet food purchasing for cats and dogs. For each identified trend, we will provide what the trend is, why it is a trend (why we chose it), and 1-2 examples of thought leaders or industry experts discussing the trend.