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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

Monday, June 29, 2009

Are Customers Switching to Cheaper Pet Products?

By Melissa Kauffman

Editorial Director, BowTie Incorporated

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I have two dogs at home: one a senior and one at 1 year 7 months.

The senior dog has food allergies, so both dogs are fed high-quality dog food. Our senior dog is also addicted to dog treats. She was trained on a reward system and at her age – 14 years – all she cares about is pet food and treats and her daily dog walks. 

The “puppy” goes through dog chew toys like mad, and if you don’t keep him occupied with the chew toys, he’ll destroy other items. He disembowels a chew toy every 48 hours. He only likes the chew toys he can disembowel so getting him hard-to-destroy pet toys is not a viable option.

Our puppy has gone through several dog leashes. He just broke another one last night when he suddenly chased after a cat.

As you can guess, pet-store retailers love me. I receive a gold star for how frequently I go to the pet store and how much money I spend on pet products. In this economy though, I really wince when I look at my pet-store bill and have recently made a few gentle cuts. I don’t seem to be the only pet -store retail customer thinking about pet product costs these days. Here’s a look at what pet enthusiasts are thinking:

In a recent poll on DogChannel.com, although 41 percent of dog owners said they would not consider switching their dog food brand, 23 percent already switched to a higher-quality brand dog food to stave off potential future vet bills, and 36 percent already switched to a lower-cost brand of dog food or would consider doing it.

Fishkeepers seem to be more willing to switch food brands during tough times. An overwhelming 63 percent of fish owners on FishChannel.com have said they’ve already made the switch to a lower-priced fish food. Only 4 percent switched to a higher-quality food, while 19 percent would consider changing to a lower-priced food and 14 percent wouldn’t consider switching at all.

Cat owners don’t seem to be letting money worries interfere with one of their biggest cat product purchases: cat litter. On CatChannel.com, 81.99 percent polled said they would not change their cat litter brand due to the economy, while 12.5 percent did change and 5.5 percent were considering changing cat litters to cheaper brands.

Bird food prices are definitely something to consider for pet bird enthusiasts. About half of those polled (56 percent) said they would not likely switch to a lower-priced pet bird food. Some bird owners switched to a higher-quality pet bird food to stave off potential veterinary bills (14 percent). Only 5 percent have already made the switch to a lower-priced bird food; 14 percent will consider it but would first research the company and ingredients before making the switch; and 11 percent have not had to consider switching yet but would if their income changes.

Reptile owners are a little more equally divided when it comes to considering changing reptile food due to cost. While 24 percent polled at ReptileChannel.com said they have already switched to a cheaper reptile food, 25 percent said there is not a chance that they would switch. Only 11 percent switched to a higher-quality food to stave off potential veterinary bills. Another 24 percent is considering changing to a lower-cost reptile food but still would take the company and ingredients in to account before changing and 16 percent hasn’t considered it yet but would if their financial situation changed.

One thing pet enthusiasts do seem to agree upon during these difficult times is their love of coupons. Many have commented on the Animal Network sites that they wished pet stores and manufacturers offered more of them. I am not typically a coupon user. I always lose them or hold onto them past their expiration date. However, I have used a coupon twice in the recent months. They seem like a little extra help in a time when we can all use it.

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