The shift among pet owners to take extra care in choosing pet products has affected pet food manufacturers and suppliers, and now retailers are adjusting. The report, “The Future of Pet Care Retailing: Blurring Frontiers," from Euromonitor International, a market research provider, details how pet stores are adapting to new trends and the rise of e-commerce.

According to Jared Koerten, Industry Manager for Food & Nutrition, Euromonitor International, pet owners in the US are demanding variety, customization and convenience from their pet product selections, including premium and personalized food options. This, along with the growing prevalence of e-commerce, is prompting pet retailers and manufacturers to rethink the way their products are offered.

Koerten says brick-and-mortar retailers are focusing on curated offerings, brand exclusivity, private labels and aesthetic displays to attract today’s pet owners. “By creating an upscale retail environment that features a curated set of natural, ethically-sourced, premium and functional pet foods, pet superstores have successfully drawn a new base of affluent customers,” Koerten says.

Some pet stores are incorporating services such as veterinary care, grooming and boarding to compete with other retailers. PetCo launched a new store concept in July 2018 with emphasis on a “complete care experience,” says Koerten. The store, PetCoach, offers grooming, vet care, day care, dog walking, training and pet nutrition consultations.

Subscription shopping and customization are reshaping the online pet retail market, offering pet owners convenience, personalization, and opportunities for discounts and savings, according to Koerten. Retailers are innovating online by offering automatic replenishment of pet food, curated subscription boxes and customizable pet food orders.

“Online giants like Chewy typically offer a significant discount on the first installment of a new subscription order, with additional discounts also applied to subsequent shipments,” Koerten says. “As low prices are a primary driver for internet retailing in general, the potential for recurring savings from automatic replenishment orders represents a significant competitive advantage.”

Euromonitor International quotes the CEO’s of Blue Buffalo and Colgate-Palmolive (which owns Hill’s Pet Nutrition) in its report, both of whom say approximately 50% of their online sales are subscription orders.

Customization comes hand-in-hand with subscriptions; US companies like, Ollie, YaDoggie and The Farmer’s Dog allow owners to create a customized profile for their dog, which is used to generate a tailored food blend specific to that animal, then subscribe to receive regular shipments of their orders, says Koerten.

“These companies represent a new frontier in pet food subscriptions, as technology allows for an unprecedented level of customization,” Koerten says. “With this shift, owners can move beyond foods designed for a particular breed or life-stage and find formulas designed for their particular companion.”

Keep up with the latest pet food trends on our Trends page.