Digging Up Market Expansion Ideas For Pet Treats

Hungry for Growth

Del Monte Pet Foods, now Big Heart Pet Brands, hired Vivaldi when it was under the umbrella of Del Monte Foods Inc., one of the largest producers, distributors, and marketers of brand food for the U.S. market. Del Monte Pet Foods was the second largest pet foods company in the U.S. but found that market expansion into the cat treats market was a struggle.

Del Monte approached Vivaldi seeking to capture a rising opportunity in the rapidly growing cat treats market. Del Monte had identified that the cat treat category was a relatively immature and fast-growing area within pet snacks and they wanted to get in on the ground floor of the growing category. Despite having invented the category, Del Monte was underdeveloped relative to the competition and compared to their performance in other sections of the pet category. The company’s existing cat treat brands, were declining and held only 16% market share compared to competitors’ 52% and 32%. Along with their small market share, Del Monte did not have the backing of the company to help fuel the growth of the pet foods category. The company culture was extremely conservative and more dog-minded – cat treats had very little support.

Creating the Purr-fect Cat Treat

To help increase Del Monte’s share of the cat treat market, the Vivaldi Partners team adopted an outside-in approach and first took a close look at Del Monte consumers. One-on-one ethnographies were conducted to further understand pet owners and these ethnographies, combined with the quantitative data, yielded a richer, more holistic view of the cat-to-cat parent relationship. The research helped identify innovation platforms focused around pain points for cat owners in order to jumpstart ideation and guide the growth roadmap. The Vivaldi Partners team defined a cat treat strategy and brand architecture for the company and developed new product and service concepts against the seven highest priority platforms.

Success is in the Bag

By adopting an outside-in approach, the Vivaldi Partners team helped Del Monte understand what their consumers wanted from a pet food and paved the way for new innovation thinking. Among the many outcomes of the work, we developed a new product concept, Wild Catch, which outperformed Del Monte and the database average for top box purchase intent among all cat owners. Along with Wild Catch, more new products and a new brand, were readied for commercialization. The company launched Milo’s Kitchen in 2011, the first new brand in the 100 year history of the company, which delivered a blockbuster $100 million in 18 months, was the #7 new product launched in 2012 and was voted a Nielsen Breakthrough Innovation winner.

Meet The Expert

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Larry Lucas

Senior Partner

Larry Lucas is a Senior Partner at Vivaldi. He brings over twenty years of experience in brand management and helping his clients achieve their growth objectives through practical, actionable marketing. Larry has helped his clients build portfolio growth strategies, brand positioning, customer experience strategy, new product concept creations, as well as broader organizational marketing capability development.