Silver-hued, satiny kittens with unfeasibly blue eyes, lapping up a dish that looks tastier than a steak dinner.
Just watching half an hour of TV should show you that pet food is big business; the advertising budgets for cat biscuits looks to be as high as those for aftershave.
In 2012 the pet food industry boasted a combined annual turnover of more than £20 billion across Europe. Combine that with the total pet population (excluding fish) for the US and Europe increasing by four million in the last year alone (statistics provided by the Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association), and it’s clear that high-quality pet food is not only a lucrative, growing sector.
‘The world’s most luxurious cat food’ quickly sold out, even with a retail price of £24.99 per pot.
So it should come as no surprise to learn that when television chef Simon Rimmer created what was dubbed ‘the world’s most luxurious cat food’ - with blends including duck leg, beetroot jelly and Beluga caviar - for the RSPCA, it quickly sold out, even with a retail price of £24.99 per pot.
However, while there is demand for luxury products, cost is a huge issue. Owning a pet is expensive: according to survey results from Sainsbury’s insurance, the annual cost of owning a dog amounts to £1,418 per year (£1,200 for a cat), amounting to more than £20,000 over an average lifespan of 15 years .
So, pet food suppliers find themselves in a quandary: pet owners want to purchase best possible pet food ingredients, but they need them at the lowest available price points.
How pet food franchises create ‘budget luxury’ brands
Pet food franchises aim to retail the highest quality pet food to customers with a sense of integrity. They are able to supply a niche service that appeals to this new breed of budget luxury customer.
Many pet food franchises no longer need to include artificial colours or preservatives in their products and now supply easy, clear feeding guides alongside their products to customers. This also raises the level of customer service provided adding to the creation of a premium brand which supermarket pet food suppliers do not provide.
Brands like OSCAR use concentrated ingredients which are listed by name, and they give a promise to retain the high standard of food ingredients while still keeping costs reasonable. These franchises also cater to dietary needs such as providing food specially tailored for pets that are on a gluten-free diet and they do not test their products on other animals.
Now that budget luxury pet food is possible, and with a world love of animals only increasing, the smart money is on a business with a sure, growing market and a great product2 that turns a luxury into a necessity.