Above and Beyond

Paul D. Cooke, vice president/director industry development for Nestlé Purina Pet Care, discusses how his company continues to innovate the pet food category in the mass market.

How are pet food sales?

Paul D. Cooke: The pet food category has been positive and very resilient for many years. All indications are that this trend will continue and increase modestly. The pet food category has been built on innovation, and Purina is committed to providing unique products that meet or exceed our customers’ expectations. The other key factor that is important to understand and appreciate is the relationship people have with their pets and the importance of pets and family. That is why, at Purina, we believe, “People and pets are better together.”

What is driving the category in terms of sales?

Cooke: As households manage their families’ needs in a challenging economy, consumers have become much more selective in the products they bring into their homes. Products’ value and benefits have never been more important than they are today. Pet owners are looking for those same attributes that meet their pet’s nutritional needs, and they won’t settle for anything less.

For example, natural products with simple, recognizable ingredients you know and trust, plus vitamins and minerals, superfood ingredients that are nutrient-dense, and natural nutrition with essential nutrients in a grain-free formula have become a much sought after alternative for those consumers looking for something more.

So, how does Nestlé Purina’s new Beyond line play into this? What makes Beyond so unique?

Cooke: Beyond was created to meet the needs of those consumers. They want natural ingredients plus essential nutrients, where real meat, fish or poultry is the number-one ingredient. They don’t want corn, wheat or soy, they don’t want poultry by-product meal, and they don’t want added artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

That is why Beyond was created. We believe food choices are the most important daily decisions we make for our health and well-being, and it is no different when it comes to feeding our pets. At Beyond, we believe that when we connect with what’s natural, we reconnect with what’s good in food.
How can retailers maximize Beyond’s potential, in terms of merchandising and marketing?

Cooke: The number-one opportunity for every retailer is to recognize these are the products consumers are looking for, and they will find them. Every retailer must focus on meeting the needs of their customers, no matter how or where they compete. Beyond was created for those consumers who expect more and will settle for nothing less. They want Beyond.

Communication, visibility and availability will determine how successful you are with Beyond.
How are you communicating to the consumer with Beyond? How are you educating them about the product and segment?

Cooke: Beyond is a significant investment for Nestlé Purina, our retailers and our customers. We are committed to driving trial and building awareness with a robust 360-degree support plan to build awareness and encourage trial. We will be communicating the benefits of Beyond through:

• TV/Print
• Direct Mail
• Catalina
• Digital Media
• 3rd Party Endorsers
• In-store Merchandising
• Live and In-pack coupons
• Sampling
• FSI’s

If you are not looking at Beyond, you are looking at the past.

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