When you hear the word “Mars,” you’re either thinking of Elon Musk’s Space X and a sci-fi worthy colony on the red planet; or, if you’re hungry, you’re imagining the caramel and nougaty goodness of the Mars candy bar.
We’re talking about the latter, sort of.
Mars, Inc. is actually an enormous company that not only owns Mars bars, but also M&Ms, Pedigree and IAMS dog food, Uncle Bens, and Wrigley gum.
Until now, they’ve been using a 3-agency media structure, but they’re looking to consolidate to using a single global media partner. The review process will likely take the rest of the year. One thing we know for sure (at least according to their CMO Andrew Clarke), is that they’re looking for data-driven insights and evidence-based marketing.
Well, we can help with that.
One of the biggest challenges facing the incoming global media partner will be improving sales of Mars, Inc. pet food brands, including IAMS, Pedigree, Cesar, Sheba and more.
Whereas in years past, these brands were among the most trusted and recognized, prominently placed in veterinarians offices and grocery stores across the country, pet food trends have shifted substantially in recent years.
Since 2011, there are 52 percent more specialty pet food brands on the market. In 2016 alone, 2880 new products launched. A quick online search for “best dog food brands” doesn’t name IAMS or Pedigree anywhere. Instead, the search engine results page lists brands like Blue Buffalo, Taste of the Wild, Natural Balance and Organix - all known for high quality, whole food ingredients and formulations intended to maximize health benefits.
This trend partially explains why Mars Petcare brands current audience is retirement-age women living in the South. They’re not necessarily looking for the new/next best thing. They’re more inclined to go with what they know.
But for Mars’ pet foods to continue growing sales, they need to court a younger audience.
Meet the Millennial Dog Owners
According to the American Pet Products Association, millennials are the largest segment of pet owners.
Millennial dog owners, for the purposes of our research, are millennial consumers who have interacted with dog food brands on Social Media.
In many ways, they’re typical millennials. They’re food lovers, entertainment junkies, music lovers and gamers. Most are in a relationship or married, and they’re just about equally split between men and women.
They’re not that into health food themselves. They’re more likely to snack on potato chips and sweets than whole fruits and vegetables. But when it comes to the health of their dogs... they’re far more health conscious.
From our research, we found that millennial dog owners’ favorite canned dog food brand is Freshpet, which boasts all natural ingredients with no preservatives.
In the 2016 Packaged Facts report, Millennials as Pet Market Consumers, surveys showed that millennial pet owners are more likely to use raw pet food and/or pet food with formulations meant to enhance the health of their pets. In other words, they read labels (and cat owners are even more likely to research and read labels than dog owners).
That’s the real competition for Mars’ pet food brands - they don’t have labels that boast whole-food ingredients and vitamin blends.
To win back consumers, Mars Inc.’s new marketing teams will have to highlight the health benefits of their pet food brands, and probably suggest reformulating them to align with millennial preferences.
After all, they want the best for their pets - and they’re willing to pay for it.
Want more insights into the Mars Inc. review or the Millennial Dog Owners? Download our latest pitch brief!