Today we thought we would do something really different, we take a look at the Packaged dog food market in India. Now, you may not see this topic with an exciting eye, but here’s something that will give you a reason. Over eight million tons of pet food is manufactured each year, there are 15,000 pet food brands in the World.
Which ones do you remember? But an even curious question is, 15k players in a market only means that the market is an attractive Business. And believe it or not, it does require you to earn a few extra bucks to own a dog. In that sense, this market, in its own way is related to the better living conditions of a country. Anyway, let’s jump right in the piece!
A Man’s best friend
Pet dogs in India have gone through quite a journey. A dog’s role in an Indian household has changed over the years from a safety pet that would act as a watch guard to an integral member of the family. The change in behaviour towards pet dogs is also evident in spending patterns for dog food and care products. However, packaged dog food penetration remains low at 10 to 12%, with most dog owners feeding home-cooked food to their dogs. This piece analyzes India’s packaged dog food segment.
Dogs cover a whopping 80% of the 19 million pet market in India. The dog food market is the biggest pet food market, currently worth INR 22.8 billion as per Euromonitor, and is growing annually at 13-15% with snack/treat segment being the one with the highest growth. Whereas, The Cat food market is a far off second in the pet food category. It is worth just Rs 560 million because of the traditional social stigma and superstitions attached to cats in Indian society.
Enablers and disablers
Owning and taking care of pets is an urban phenomenon in India. The pet adoption and pet food markets thus rise with urbanization. Government activities encouraging pet adoption, busier lifestyle for dog owners, pet humanization and rising awareness of health benefits of food packets containing essential dog nutrition are the major drivers for the growth of the dog food market. It has been further supported by rise in nuclear families having smaller units and an increase in time and space dedicated to pets.
The biggest roadblock to the growth of the packaged dog food market in India is shifting the dog owner from feeding his dog with a cheaper home-cooked meal to relatively expensive packaged food options. If a dog owner has to buy packaged food for a week for a dog of medium size, they would have to pay about Rs. 620. A lot of dog owners that do buy dog food also tend to do that only for the first year until the dogs become adults and then switch to home-cooked meals.
The second major challenge for a company in the sector is high customer acquisition costs associated with dog food category because of money spent on activations at pet shows, vet clinics and pet stores. This makes pricing in the segment tricky. A lesser price might eat away the gross margins because of high acquisition costs and a high price would result in consumers switching to cheaper home-cooked meals.
Mars International leads the dog food market in India with a 29% market share with its brands like Pedigree and Eukanuba. There are multiple new players looking to enter the Indian market like N&D (Farmina) and Hill’s Science (Colgate-Palmolive). Purina PetCare India Pvt Ltd has already launched its Supercoat brand.
The target consumers have traditionally been urban dog owners who typically belong to upper and upper-middle-class families. The brands have also focused on targeting these segments. There has been a rise in premium and natural offerings demand among affluent dog owners. Thus, brands have come up with gluten-free GMO-free and added minerals-based products. Now, with the increase in awareness among middle class about the nutrition requirement of dogs among middle-class dog owners, brands have come up with cheaper alternatives. Mars recently launched 50-gram Dog food pouches for Rs 15 and 100-gram pouches for Rs. 20.
Related: Take a look at the Organic skincare industry in India.
Veterinary Clinics and pet shops continue to remain trusted channels for dog food for Indian consumers. 88.3% of total sales happen through only these two channels. Ecommerce channel, although small (7.5% of total sales) has been growing rapidly as it provides convenience, variety, the possibility of customization and access to reviews on the product to the buyer.
The eCommerce also provides companies with the opportunity to tap into tier 2 and tier 3 market in India which are not fully tapped until now. eCommerce channel has reduced barriers to entry in the segment. There has also been a rise in subscription-based services for dog foods that provide personalized food choices basis dog’s allergies, eating habits etc. This segment, however, is a niche segment for affluent dog owners.
With new players entering the segment and rise of eCommerce, the battle for market share in India’s Dog Food Market is about to intensify. Would Mars continue to maintain its stronghold in the category, or some other new or existing players would emerge victorious remains to be seen.