According to our recent I-Factor® data, brands like Purina and Blue Buffalo might want to pay attention.

In the past few years, the pet food industry has mirrored the consumer-food industry’s shift to cleaner, more natural ingredients. But according to our recent I-Factor® study, ingredients alone aren’t enough to make a meaningful connection with consumers.

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Clean, all-natural ingredients are still on the rise, but have become the cost of entry. According to Mintel, about 90% of new pet food products used natural color instead of artificial in 2017. So how do you stand out when 90% of brands are doing the same thing?

By going beyond the functional. I-Factor, our real-time relationship tracker, shows that brands like Castor & Pollux are generating the most positive buzz. They talk about “purposeful pet food.” So not only do they use organic, responsibly sourced ingredients, they also created a program to help pet rescue groups feed the animals in their shelters. They have donated over 4 million pet meals. And they are making sure consumers know it.

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*Positive I-Factor® Score on the left, and Negative on the right (P/N)

Legacy brands like Purina are having trouble keeping up. Purina has a very functional heritage and a questionable history regarding ingredients and animal testing. This is making it challenging for them to move the discussion to a more purposeful place as evidenced by their extremely low consumer engagement scores.

And Blue Buffalo, a purpose driven brand that helped change the conversation around ingredients a few years ago, also appears to be in a tough spot compared to newer rivals.

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