Motivations in buying pet food


To understand the motivations behind why pet owners change pet food brands.

Early Findings

  • "Almost two-thirds of US pet owners express satisfaction with their current pet food brand. Consumer satisfaction is from product due diligence, with almost half checking the ingredient list of any new product they plan to serve their pets. "
  • A 2017-2018 American Pet Products Association (APPA) National survey, found that a majority of U.S. dog owners found brand names to be only somewhat important 54%, while 31% felt it was not at all important, while only 15% of owners found it very important.
  • The market factors and feeding strategies that drive the diversification in the pet food industry are still unknown. Researchers have mentioned that "very little is known about whether dog owners base their decisions on personal beliefs, professional advice, or empirical evidence.

Pet Food Preferences

  • Americans are looking for dog foods that "don’t include ingredients like GMOs (genetically modified organisms), corn, fillers, artificial colors and preservatives."
  • "Consumers are also examining the ingredients and choosing foods where grain is not the primary product ingredient. There has been an "increase in sales of products that include glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate (3% and 6%, respectively) in the ingredients.
  • Probiotics also had a 139% sales growth in 2018, for dog food. 16% of U.S. households purchase dog foods with pre/probiotic ingredients.

Pet Owners' Beliefs

  • A 2018 online survey found that "40% of dog owners believe grain-free diets are healthy for their pet."
  • "27% of dog owners said they believe that low-glycemic dog diets are healthier."
  • "78% of dog owners surveyed said they feed their pets a dry kibble diet either exclusively or most of the time, while wet foods were fed exclusively by 4% of dog owners".
  • The survey also indicated that "purchasing decisions of 24% of pet owners and 38% of veterinary professionals are not influenced by pet food claims."
  • A 2019 study found that pet owners rated health and nutrition, quality, ingredients, and freshness as the most important characteristics of pet food.

Changing Diets: Insights for Senior Dogs

  • "88% of owners are ready to change their dog’s diet to prevent or fight aging. Pet owners are committed to the health of their aging dog are ready to make drastic changes such as diet transition. Loyalty to a specific brand may not play a major role anymore. Dog owners could favor a diet with a health functionality that they can trust whatever the brand."
  • "Pet food brands willing to keep owners faithful during the entire life of their animals thus need to enrich their range with “senior” foods having substantiated claims and proven efficacy to fight aging signs."


  • For this hour, we tried digging deeper to find insights to understand the motivations behind why pet owners change pet food brands. However, research or studies that specifically answers this question appears unavailable. We were able to find some studies and surveys, which gave some insights on pet owners purchasing habits, which might also be helpful. But our findings indicates that the reasons they switch brands is influenced by different factors, including trends, which were described above.
  • Research also found that two-thirds of US pet owners express satisfaction with their current pet food brand, which suggests that dog owners they might not switch brands often. We also found a survey that dog food brand perception among majority of U.S. dog owners were either somewhat important or not important at all (54%, and 31%, respectively). Finally, we found that "very little is known about what dog owners base their purchasing decisions on.
  • We came across one study by the University of Illinois, which aimed to study the psychological motivations that drive dog owners’ choices about their dogs’ diet and lifestyle, however, the study is still in progress.
  • In the course of our research, we found some insights on trends on the pet food market as well as some insights on U.S. dog owner demographics, which might be of interest.
  • Feel free to add or select an option below.

We also found some proprietary research from one of our data partners which may be helpful:
  • Dog Population and Ownership Trends (Packaged Facts, $185.35 USD)
  • Dog Owners Represent a Key Market Segment($74.75 USD)
If you'd like us to purchase any of these reports on your behalf, just let us know.

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