Pet Insight spoke with Joe Crump, President of Crumps’ Naturals about the future of the dog treats category and how today’s challenges are guiding future opportunities. Crump offered his perspective on how the category is evolving and the trends leading the category into the near future.
Q: What are consumers demanding from the Treats category?
A: Increasingly, we’re finding that consumers are reading labels to ensure their pets are eating North American sourced products with very few ingredients. Manufacturers can’t just say they have a natural product anymore. Those claims need to be backed up with an ingredient label that reads appropriately.
Q: How has the Treats category changed within the last five years?
A: When we exhibit at any of the larger shows in the USA I often wonder how there can be enough orders placed to keep all the treat companies in business! The last five years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of treat offerings and particularly in the natural space – likely expedited with the Chinese melamine issue a few years ago. Consumers are eating better and in turn feeding their pets better.
Q: Which trends do you see leading the category over the coming months and year?
A: Productsthat lend themselves to dogs with food insensitivities and/or allergies continue to do well which is, perhaps, why sweet potato continues to garner more shelf space. We’ve experienced a tremendous amount of growth inthis area and have recently launched a new line of Sweet Potato Strips to build on this activity.
Q: How can retailers partner with Crumps’ Naturals to get ahead of these trends?
A: Retailers need to continue listening to the needs of consumers to find out what they’re looking for and the issues they face. Given this information, manufacturers can partner with the retailers to develop next generation products.
Q: What are some of the in-store opportunities Crumps’ Naturals has advocated for to bring consumers to what’s next?
A: Product placement and staff education are key to building consumer awareness and trial of new products. Successful pet specialty stores keep their consumers coming back by engaging and educating. Placement of treats in areas that are conducive to impulse purchases doesn’t hurt either.
Q: What strong co-merchandising opportunities exist within the Treats category that retailers can utilize more heavily?
A: When retailers purchase on deal it helps so much if they pass on, at least a portion of, the savings to the consumer. Everyone loves a bargain!
Q: How can retailers help to inform consumers about Crumps’ Naturals’ offering and latest innovation?
A: Word of mouth, product placement, samples, social media, web presence are all greatways for retailers to help inform and create a win win relationship. Also, an educated staff helps so much to inform consumers about key product benefits.
Q: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
A: We need to speak about pet specialty distribution in The USA. The industry is experiencing an incredible transformation with venture capital driving the growth of a few major distributors that are buying up many of their smallerindependent competitors. In the last year, four of our independent distributors were purchased by such companies. A senior executive from one of these companies told me that they represent about 17,000 SKU’s and that the average distributor sales representative can effectively sell about 700 SKU’s. Whathappens to the other 16,300? It’s up to the manufacturer because as talented as many of the distributor reps may be, they cannot possibly speak about our product to the extent that is necessary. The distributor industry roll-up may make a lot of sense for investors but for small manufacturers andindependent retailers I believe the model is fraught with downside risk.
Recently, we’ve launched a direct sales program to augment distribution and fill any gaps in the marketplace that are not currently fulfilled appropriately. Retail stores are being called via our inside sales team and can also order through our web site (www.crumps.ca ). Our recipe for creating awareness and achieving marketplace penetration has been adjusted but our goals remain unchanged.
Crumps’ Naturals is a leading innovator in the treats space, with unique brands for both pet specialty and mass consumers. The company can be reached at email@example.com or alternatively by phone at 888-478-4011.