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Grocers and Brands Tout Pet Causes

Launches timed for National Pet Month in May
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Winn Dixie dog
Southeastern Grocers is one of many retailers around the country rolling out pet-focused campaigns in May.

Retailers and brands are unleashing a pack of new promotions for National Pet Month. Throughout May, shoppers who are pet parents can score deals and check out new offerings for the pets in their lives while also getting a chance to support related causes like pet adoption.

Pet essentials remain an important retail category, especially after the pandemic led to a spike in pet adoptions and rescues. According to a March 2023 report from NIQ (formerly known NielsenIQ), the current state of the industry reflects larger market trends such as the impact of inflation; dollar sales in the pet industry are up, but unit sales have dipped as shoppers tighten their budgets. According to NIQ's findings, many brands and retailers are accordingly focusing on assortment optimization at a time of high prices.

As for opportunities, NIQ’s research highlighted the ongoing humanization of pets as a key trend. For example, many brands and retailers are finding success in marketing products as healthy, natural and organic. At the same time, nearly a quarter (22%) of shoppers now plan in-store shopping trips combined with prior online orders, underscoring the significance of the omnichannel in this category.

In this still-evolving market, several grocers and CPGs are rolling out pet-centric programs:

  • Southeastern Grocers is offerings savings on pet food and supplies throughout the summer and celebrating National Pet Month by raising awareness and support for nearly 400 animal welfare organizations within its footprint. Customers at Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie stores can purchase a reusable community bag with a giving tag for $2.99 to help local animals in need. Southeastern Grocers is also donating $15,000 in Whiskers & Tails pet food and supplies to local animal shelters and rescues.
  • Weis Markets is launching its annual Paws for Pets register campaign that likewise supports animal shelters and rescue organizations in its communities. Customers can round up their orders or donate $1, $3 or $5 at self-checkout or online. The grocer is also providing a corporate contribution with matching donations from brand partners including Rachael Ray Nutrish, Nestlé-Purina PetCare Co., The Clorox Co. and Blue Buffalo. The program includes giveaways, as shoppers who buy pet care items from one of 25 vendor partners can get a chance to win a $150 store gift card.
  • Trading partner Mars, spearheading efforts this month to encourage pet rescues and improve holistic pet care. Among other activities, the Kong toy brand is teaming up with the nonprofit group VCA Charities to support shelters, while the Pedigree brand’s foundation is hosting a benefit concert in Nashville to help end pet homelessness.

Also in time for Pet Month, San Francisco-based Instacart released insights on pet product trends within its service areas. For example, dog food sales outpace cat food sales in 36 states. The top five dog treat brands sold via the Instacart platform include, in order, Milk Bone, Heart to Tail, Purina Beggin’, Good ‘n Fun and Pup-Peroni, while the top five cat treat brands include Temptations, Purina Friskies, Delectables, Heart to Tail and Luvsome.

Lest they be forgotten, other pets were highlighted in Instacart’s report, too. Nevada is more likely to have fish as pets aside from cats and dogs, and households in Idaho prefer rabbits and bunnies.

Jacksonville, Fla.-based Southeastern Grocers is one of the largest conventional supermarket companies in the United States, with more than 420 grocery stores, approximately 180 liquor stores and more than 230 in-store pharmacies serving communities throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. The company is No. 39 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Sunbury, Pa.-based Weis Markets operates almost 200 stores in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and West Virginia. The company is No. 61 on The PG 100 and was named a PG 2023 Top Regional

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