Insight & trends from Pet Fair Asia 2019
Pet Fair Asia has become an essential event for pets and pet owners as well as pet industry players. The 22nd edition held in Shanghai New International Expo Center in August 2019 gathered more than 20,000 domestic and international pet care brands. Luying Wang, ASPAC Marketing Executive at Diana Petfood, was there. She gives an overview of the most significant Chinese pet food market trends observed at the show.
Nature, health and premiumization
Once again, the Pet Fair Asia shows to the world the huge potential of China’s pet care market, which continues forming its own style, lead by 3 main global trends.
1. Natural Goodness
Naturalness is still the most popular trend; even now the brands can’t use the word “Nature” unless they fully comply with new regulations on “Nature” claims. But they can still show the “Nature” concept by highlighting raw materials, where they come from and how they are processed. As pet owners start to pay more attention to reading the packaging and questioning their purchases, better ingredient sourcing and alternative processing will continue to be a hot point at Pet Food. Freeze-dried, air-dried, and steam cooked has become a mainstream trend at Pet Fair. Freeze-dried has almost become the standard for every brand.
2. Healthy Lifestyle
Healthful and mindfulness are transforming more and more areas of our lives, changing how we look at food. Nutrition-related health concerns are paramount among pet owners. Preventive care is particularly pronounced in Asian markets, especially in China. More and more brands start veterinary ranges with disease-prevention functional claims, and local brands are trying to differentiate themselves from international brands by sourcing powerful Chinese herbs to support their health functional claims, such as digestive health, which is the most popular health claim in Asia.
3. Premium Indulgence
The relationship between pet owners and their companions is changing. Pets are increasingly seen as family members. As such, pet owners are trading up to higher quality food and pampering their pets with products that “humanize” them. At this Pet Fair, this trend was seen in the luxury packaging designs as well as new forms of pet treats such as vacuum-packed fresh meat snacks that resemble human foods.
1. Cat market boom
There was a whole hall especially for the brands dedicated to cats only: litter boxes, cat litter, cat mint, cat treats and so on. Each product is designed attractively and will gain momentum from new, younger pet owners.
2. Veterinarian Revolution
Driven by capital and the trends of pet parenting, the veterinarian market is rapidly expanding. This momentum is clearly demonstrated in pet food as well.
Meanwhile, pet insurance emerged at the right moment.
More and more pet food brands are collaborating with digital platforms to do Joint Marketing. Not only e-commerce platforms but also some well-known educational portals such as the Chinese social Q&A forum site “ZHI HU,” widely used by new generations in China. This time Purina collaborated with “ZHI HU” to build brand awareness and educate pet owners on how to feed their pets the right way.
Cloning and DNA testing were one of the highlights of this Pet Fair. One company claims that it can clone your pet by using its DNA, with the idea of helping pet owners realize their desire for long-term companionship with pets. DNA testing also can help pet owners identify pets’ health risks and take preventive measures. It might sound not real, but it reflects how the relationship between pets and pet owners is changing. Pets are family members.
Advice for pet food players
Brands that want to be successful on the Chinese market should:
• Take advantage of the digital convenience with a new mindset – Internet plus your brand
• Rebuild trust by ingredient transparency, from sourcing to packaging.
• Differentiate health functional claims through better ingredient sourcing with clinical proof.