More than ever before, pets are part of the family.
I’m not just saying that as a dog owner. The data speaks for itself – we see it in our own global research and, according to Nielsen, 75% of owners believe that their pet is like a family member.
All of this means that Petcare is a highly emotive industry, more than many others in FMCG. As marketers, it’s something that we are very aware of.
However, we also know that these strong emotions are so powerful that they transcend a pet owner’s feelings for their own cat or dog. Pet owners are also naturally passionate when it comes to the bigger issues that affect animals and our planet.
Because of all of this, we know that our brands have a unique power to affect change. This means evolving the way we approach our business and our marketing strategy - focusing not only on trying to help pet owners care for their pets but looking at what we can do to benefit society more widely.
Last week we announced our partnership with TerraCycle, who specialise in hard to recycle materials, to launch a nationwide pet food packaging recycling scheme. The Pet Food Recycling Programme – which is the first of its kind in the UK and Europe – will offer pet owners a free solution to transform waste packaging into useful items like park benches and fence posts. The scheme is open for pet owners to return eligible packaging in the market for processing.
This clearly isn’t purely a marketing play. We are doing this because businesses like ours need to pioneer new and innovative responses to the challenges around recycling and plastic waste.
We are using the power of our brands Whiskas and James Wellbeloved to drive this scheme. Pet owners will start to see messaging on our social channels, and see this communicated on-pack and through digital activations in 2019. We also want to work with retailers to drive awareness of the scheme in-store.
We also know that as an industry, we are stronger when we work together to tackle common problems. We want to use the power of the whole industry to take this even further, so we’re inviting other pet food manufacturers to partner with TerraCycle and ourselves to expand the impact of the programme through wider industry collaboration.
As a pet owner, I will always respond when a brand provides me with ways to make my dog’s life better. Now, we are channelling this power into ways that we can make the world better. That is the unique role that our brands – and the rest of the pet food industry – can play in helping to dramatically reduce our environmental impact.
Chris Rodi is marketing director, Mars Petcare UK