retail | 4 min

Pet food packaging: these are the tricks to sell your treats

A happy dog to greet you when you come home from a long day at work. A cat purring in your lap while you’re watching your favourite tv-show. Having a furry friend in the house simply makes your life a little rosier. No wonder our insight shows about 45% of UK households now own pets – a market already worth £4.5 billion. And that number is on the rise.

That’s good news if you’re in the pet care business. But there is a flip side: competition’s as fierce as a cat with new-born kittens. That means you have to pull out all the stops if you want to get noticed.

Packaging can play a crucial role in driving sales. The opportunities are threefold.

  1. It’s the perfect medium to increase your visibility on shelf.
  2. It’s a canvas to show off your sustainability efforts.
  3. And it’s a way to pleasantly surprise and connect with e-shoppers.
November 13, 2018

1. Shelf visibility: roar, don’t meow

Did you know that your product has merely two-seconds to capture shoppers’ attention in-store? Therefore, it’s all about making your presence known instantly. And since your shelf ready packaging (SRP) is the first point of interaction for shoppers in-store, it provides the perfect platform for your brand to communicate its story and key information.

More than that, grabbing the attention first, could mean customers choose your brand over another. These are the top three reasons British pet owners choose to do so:

  • 31% prefer packaging that emphasises the product’s health benefits
  • 28% want to see packaging with detailed information on the ingredients 
  • 27% are triggered by promotional offers on packaging

2. Sustainability: chase, don’t follow


Sustainability is gaining importance, with over a quarter (27%) of British pet owners claiming recyclable packaging to be most important to them.

Millennials, one of your biggest audiences, who are most likely to own pets, align purchasing decisions with their own political and social values.

That’s why instead of following what the majority is doing, you need to get ahead of the pack. If you’re positioning your brand as ethically-sourced, that’s a great start. Making sure your packaging reflects it, is better.

From box to box in 14 days

At DS Smith, we work closely with a number of leading brands to create packaging that makes optimal use of resources. Currently, the fibres we use can go from box to box within 14 days via our circular model. Meaning corrugated boxes are produced, used, collected, recycled, and turned back into boxes in as little as two weeks. As packaging strategists, our goal is always to find the best possible packaging solution, using minimal resources. That way, we strive to not only protect, but also promote brands – in a sustainable way. end styling in box

3. E-commerce: stand out, don’t blend in


With both the pet sector and e-commerce on the rise, it’s no wonder about 8.3% (and counting) of cat and dog food is purchased online. It’s at that point your packaging gains even more importance: it becomes the only physical point of contact between your brand and your customer. Needless to say, that’s your moment to stand out.

If you want dog-loyal customers who will make repeat purchases, you’ll benefit from a clever design. Consider the following three main concerns for British pet owners:

  • 28% want the packaging to guarantee their product arrives safely and undamaged
  • 18% put importance on having detailed product information on packaging
  • 11% eschew excess packaging

So: make sure to get your basics right, first. Then start thinking about ways to further enhance the overall unboxing experience. Printing inside the box, increased connectivity through augmented reality, … are sure to elicit ‘wows’ from your audience.

Packaging that tells your story

In conclusion: our research shows that packaging in all its forms – be it on shelf or online – is an untapped marketing opportunity for the pet sector. The synergies between primary packs and other formats enable brands to attract shoppers in a crowded marketplace and tell an engaging brand story, while ensuring the quality and safety of products.

If you’re not sure how to get started, a packaging strategist at DS Smith can help you develop the right approach.

Ready to roar?

Get in touch or if you’d like to read more on all the different ways to grab your customers’ attention, download our whitepaper ‘The Power of Pet Care Packaging’.

*Editors Notes All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4515 adults of which 2317 were pet owners. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21st - 25th June 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).