Why Pet Parents are Shifting to Packaged Food for their Furry Companions
Why Pet Parents are Shifting to Packaged Food for their Furry Companions

A house is never lonely where a loving pet waits, and this sentiment is echoed by the more than 30 million pets in India. Rapid urbanization, nuclear families, social awareness, and a rise in disposable incomes have led to more people choosing to have a pet in their lives. According to the India International Pet Trade Fair (IIPTF), as many as 600,000 pets are adopted every year. Just like a child, a pet requires nurturing and care. Hence, people are spending more on the health and well-being of their pets. This growing trend over the past few years has led to the growth of the pet food industry.

Growing Pet Food Industry

According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, some factors that have transformed India into a pet-loving society are urbanization, a rising middle-class population, a growing elderly population, and young couples choosing to have children later in life. Dogs and cats are the preferred choices of pets.

This trend of pet humanization has led to a rise in demand for packaged premium food. Pet parents are getting awareness and looking for educational material on pets’ health and nutritional requirements. They want their furry companions to get the required proteins, vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, etc for maintaining a healthy coat, nutrition, and digestion.

The emerging trend of pet cafés and spas over the years has also boosted the demand for pet food products in India. In this scenario, the report further states that the Indian pet care market is one of the fastest-growing markets with an estimated CAGR of 17 percent in the forecast period (2018-2024). There is a change in demographics and pet parenting behavior over the last decade or so. More specifically, pet humanization is a big shift, particularly in the metros and urban markets with more and more pets being considered as part of the family unlike earlier years when

Dogs were primarily owned for watching the house rather than adopted for being a part of the family. Demographics are also changing and more and more young parents are adopting pets in India (>80 percent have children less than 6 years old). The metros and urban population have a larger inclination for adopting cats v/s an equal distribution of urban and rural adoption for dogs. Pet adoption has increased during COVID leading to changes in demographics as well.

Home Cooked v/s Packaged Food

Every pet parent faces a common dilemma when it comes to feeding their pet – whether homemade food is better and safer than packaged food. The earlier generation preferred to feed their pets homemade food mainly due to the lack of appropriate options. The newer generation is well-informed and is shifting to pre-packaged food as they are more nutritionally balanced and customized as per their pets’ needs.

Like humans, each pet is unique and has different nutritional and health needs based on its age, weight, breed, and digestion. Moreover, many ingredients in home-cooked food that are considered healthy for humans are not as beneficial for pets. Pre-packaged food offers enhanced nutrition and specific formulations which are approved by qualified veterinary nutritionists to ensure the optimal health and growth of the animal.

While home-cooked foods allow more control of ingredients and customization to the specific pet, most home-cooked food recipes are not formulated by a qualified veterinary nutritionist and are vague and deficient in multiple essential nutrients, making them much less nutritious than pre-packaged foods. Even when the recipe is nutritionally balanced, there is no evidence that the average animal receives better nutrition from home-cooked food than from pre-packaged food. For the vast majority of pet owners, pre-packaged pet foods offer the best nutrition with the most convenience and affordability.

High-quality pre-packaged pet foods have been tested over decades to provide adequate and balanced nutrition for the dog or cat. Except for some pets with multiple or severe health concerns, there is a pre-packaged food that is appropriate for every pet, and nutritional deficiency diseases are rare in pets that are fed good quality pre-packaged products.

In 2013, a study looking at 200 home-prepared diets for dogs found that over 95 percent were deficient in one or more essential nutrients. The nutritional adequacy of recipes for 67 home-prepared diets for dogs and cats with chronic kidney disease has been evaluated, and assumptions were needed for the preparation of every recipe. Lack of clear instructions likely increases variability and potentially impacts the nutritional profile of the prepared diet. Combined with problems of nutritional adequacy, this may result in substantial harm to pets when home-prepared diets are used on a long-term basis.

In general, many home-prepared diets are more costly, more time-consuming, and less convenient than pre-packaged diets, and many home-prepared diets have major nutritional imbalances. For the vast majority of pet owners, pre-packaged food offers convenience at an affordable rate. Also, pre-packaged food supplies the necessary meat requirement for dogs and cats living with vegetarian families.

In addition to dry and wet food, options of treats are also available which help pet parents train, groom, and bond with their pets.

What Paw Parents Should Know

In India, about 85 percent of pets are dogs and with the emergence of the ‘adopt, don’t shop’ initiative, this number is expected to rise. Dogs adapt to traditional eating habits, such as meat, non-meat scraps, and leftovers. However, such habits may not be nutritionally appropriate and may cause allergic reactions. Hence, pre-packaged food is the better choice for paw parents.

The biggest challenge that we feel is the lack of awareness among pet parents when it comes to giving the right amount of nutrition to their pets. Though it is increasing, it has not reached the desired level yet. Once the parents know the kind and amount of food that must be given to their pets, there is a good chance that you will see a surge in the industry. These evolving trends will help sustain the industry and ensure that it grows by leaps and bounds in the coming years.

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Role of AI in Reshaping the FMCG Sector
Role of AI in Reshaping the FMCG Sector

New technological advancements and the growth of the digital space have led various sectors to embrace innovation and adaptation. The fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, in particular, has rapidly shifted in that direction by joining hands with the e-commerce industry. McKinsey reveals that e-commerce sales in the consumer goods industry are projected to reach $1.8 trillion by 2025, a fourfold increase from the last decade. In the face of intense competition and a high turnover volume in the sector, Artificial Intelligence emerges as a crucial differentiator in helping brands stay ahead of the curve. 

Crucial Role of AI

Artificial Intelligence plays a vital role in bringing consumers closer to the brand. An ongoing challenge within the FMCG industry is for accurate consumer insights to enhance data-backed decision-making. Insights AI combines advanced AI technologies like Emotion AI, Behavior AI, and Generative AI, to ensure brands get in-depth consumer behavior data. These technologies help brands understand the expectations and preferences of target audiences and provide accurate data for efficient decision-making.

As with any other industry, consumer needs and expectations in the FMCG sector are ever-evolving. AI's ability to access and process vast data sets allows brands to tailor their marketing strategies quickly and effectively in line with the requirements of the target audience. With the inclusion of Insights AI, the Indian FMCG industry could witness a significant improvement in the cost and quality of products and services.

Insights AI’s Role in Gauging User Emotions and Behaviors

One of the most crucial aspects of any FMCG product lies in its ability to resonate with the consumer. Here is where understanding the emotions and behaviors of the consumer towards the product becomes important. Insights AI plays a vital role in bringing these insights closer to the brand in several ways. 

Emotion AI for Capturing Sentiments

  • Utilizes Facial Coding and Voice AI to measure and quantify human emotions while interacting with a product.
  • Enables brands to measure and quantify human emotions by capturing facial expressions using webcams and smartphone cameras.
  • Provides nuanced insights into consumer sentiments through tone, pitch, and speech patterns

Behavior AI for Enhanced Engagement

  • Incorporates mouse-tracking and eye-tracking technology for eye-pupil movement and mouse click data.
  • Get metrics on where and how long users looked and interacted with your product to understand their preferences.
  • Invaluable for optimizing interfaces, content placement, and overall user experiences.

Gen AI for Data Analysis

  • Capability to read data and perform comprehensive analysis within a given workspace.
  • Allow users to ask queries about research data available within a repository and obtain rapid insights.

Insights AI in FMCG

Insights AI can create exceptional value for the FMCG brands thriving in e-commerce. 29.1 percent of consumers believe that AI can be better utilized in providing personalized product recommendations, while 33 percent agree on its function to provide optimized search results. It can decode an individual’s purchase history and demographic information to create personalized shopping experiences for its consumers.

Applications of Insights AI in FMCG

As one of the industries undergoing a major change due to Insights AI technologies, let us look at some of the ways it is creating a difference today.

1) Consumer Research: Insights AI can gather data and feedback on the path to consumers' purchase journeys- from looking at a product ad to completing a purchase on a website. It helps provide deep, unbiased insights, which ultimately provide a seamless shopping experience.

2) Marketing Communications: FMCG can benefit immensely in creating targeted and personalized campaigns that truly resonate with their target audience by understanding what consumers like and dislike.

3) Content and Media Testing: Brands can optimize the visual appeal and engagement across various content formats, such as ads, videos, social media posts, etc., by testing content and media pre and post-launch.

4) Pack Design and Shelf Placement Testing: FMCG brands can test their pack designs and shelf placements using Insights AI, which analyzes the shopper’s purchase intent, stopping, holding, and closing powers to make products stand out.

5) New Product Development: Validate your concepts, opinions, and ideas before a new product is developed to ensure that you are not completely relying on your gut instinct and guesswork.

While AI has a huge potential for FMCG brands to scale and improve, its widespread adoption also raises concerns about data privacy and ethical considerations. The heavy reliance on consumer data for insights also means transparency is a key priority in AI. 

AI-led disruption in the FMCG sector is not just a possibility- it is already happening. From optimizing strategies to personalized recommendations, AI is leading the way for the FMCG sector to thrive- in the e-commerce space and beyond. With the continuous evolution of technology and fierce competition in the market, the need for products and brands to stand out is imperative, especially among FMCG players. As such, brands must remain agile, adaptive, and customer-centric in their approach toward AI to deliver meaningful experiences for the end consumers.

Ranjan Kumar, Co-founder & CEO, Entropik

Ranjan Kumar, Founder & CEO, Entropik

Ranjan Kumar is the Founder and CEO of Entropik – research integrated platform powered by AI. He is an engineer from IIT Kharagpur, has invested most of his time working with soft computing, neural computing, and deep learning. Ranjan has worked with distinctive firms like ONGC Ltd and ITC Ltd, after which he turned an entrepreneur with Oyeparty.com in 2012. He has also headed business at Citrus Payments, a fintech company, giving the division exponential growth under his leadership.



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