ORRVILLE, OHIO — Rob Ferguson, general manager of pet food and snacks for The J.M. Smucker Company, highlighted strategies driving its cat product portfolio as part of a series of videos posted by the company.
The company’s cat food business was a strong growth driver in Smucker’s fiscal year 2020, following “a period of softness” in the category, Ferguson said.
In the company video, titled “Reinvigorating Our Cat Food Business,” Ferguson discussed Smucker’s well-established brands and how the company is working to keep them fresh and innovative in the eyes of consumers.
“I think the real challenge that we face in our cat food portfolio is just the fact that we have iconic brands, but we weren’t necessarily meaningfully investing in them,” Ferguson said in the video.
He offered Smucker’s Meow Mix brand as an example.
“While Meow Mix has been the brand cats ask for by name for more than 40 years, sales growth had slowed, and we recognized there were opportunities to support greater top-of-mind awareness and preference,” Ferguson said.
“The issue that we faced was that we needed to continue to make the brand fresh,” he continued. “And making it fresh requires us to deliver on two promises: the promise of breakthrough marketing, and the promise on innovation. On both of those fronts, we’ve done a really nice job over the last couple of years.”
The company launched a marketing campaign remixing the classic Meow Mix jingle “to make the brand new and relevant to both old and lapsed consumers, as well as a new consumer base,” Ferguson explained.
The jingle was remade in an R&B style, as a country song, a heavy metal tune and in a “danceable” Latin style. Each new jingle comes with an elaborate backstory describing the fictional musical cat artists behind the new jingles.
Ferguson also discussed product innovation that drove growth for the Meow Mix brand, including Meow Mix Tender Center and Tender Centers Basted Bites.
“Our investments helped us grow the brand more than 6% year-over-year and positioned us to realize sustained incremental growth,” Ferguson said.
“I think what’s most exciting about our cat food portfolio is just the fact that we play in every meaningful space within the category — whether it’s value in 9Lives, whether it’s mainstream with Meow Mix, or whether it’s premium with Nutrish — all three of those brands have shown meaningful growth [in fiscal 2020], and we have reason to believe that they’re all going to continue growing as we look into the future,” Ferguson said.
He added the company plans to continue innovating in its Nutrish and 9Lives brands, with the introduction of new Nutrish cat treats, which Ferguson described a “a huge area of opportunity that we believe the brand is uniquely positioned to support.”
“The future couldn’t be any more bright for our total cat food business,” Ferguson concluded.
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