Falling Behind? 4 Pet Products You Wish You Had Launched First

4 min read - By Ludovic Depoortere, Founder Haystack Consulting

You know that feeling of seeing your competitor launch a great, novel product?

There’s the frustration of realizing you didn’t come up with it first. Then the concern that perhaps you’re losing your edge. And yet, you can’t help but admit: it’s a winning idea.

In the pet industry, these feelings of falling behind are becoming commonplace.

Global pet care spending is expected to reach €249.3 billion in 2025, creating an unprecedented opportunity for quick-moving brands to innovate and launch new, niche products. The pressure to develop rapidly is felt across the industry—from cat litter companies to dog toy brands—though it has been particularly disruptive in the pet food category.

We’ve heard it over and over again at Haystack Consulting.

Marketing and insights teams are overwhelmed, unsure where to responsibly direct energy and resources. The wrong choice means watching another competitor launch a product that should have been theirs.

We’ve also seen how pet manufacturers can identify winning ideas with confidence, accelerate R&D with a clear vision, and take the lead in emerging categories.

We’ll share how you can be the company that others look at and think, “They really nailed it with that product”. But first, let’s explore a few innovations that demonstrate what makes a winning idea.

1| This Smart Litter Box Blends AI And Health Tech

LuluPet hit the PR goldmine at CES 2020 with their new AI-enabled litter box. Using a camera, scales, artificial intelligence, and a variety of sensors, the litter box can learn about your cat’s waste patterns and alert you when there is a risk to wellbeing.

LuluPet Smart Litterbox
Source: CES Tech Innovation Awards

Seven of ten of the most deadly cat illnesses are faecal-related, and giving owners the opportunity to pursue preventative or early-measure care fits neatly into related trends. In Belgium, growth in the pet supplement category is expected to experience a CAGR of 4.5% between 2019 and 2024. Personalized pet food to improve pet quality of life is also taking off.

A litter box that helps cat owners care for their pet before it’s too late? Genius.

2| Insect-Based Dog Food Makes Protein Sustainable

The environmental problems underlying meat-heavy diets for pets are finally receiving attention beyond the vegetarian community, and startup Yora Pet Foods has the solution: insects.

Source: www.yorapetfoods.com

Insects are a rising star in sustainable food, requiring only 2% of the land it would take to raise cattle to achieve the same amount of protein.

Interest in food using insect protein is still low, but on the rise, reaching 11% of pet owners in the UK. Younger pet owners under 35 are more likely to be interested at 16%.

3| Virtual Workouts For Dogs Provide Mental Stimulation

Pet “parents” naturally want the best for the pets, including emotional wellbeing. Go Dogo is preparing to launch a home entertainment system for dogs that provides automated mental training via games, challenges, and treats.

Source: www.go-dogo.com

Bored and unstimulated dogs are rowdy, are more likely to suffer from anxiety, and can become destructive. One survey found that as many as 60% of dog owners in the US worry about the negative impacts on their pets of not being able to spend much time with them.

With the help of virtual games, pet owners can leave the home confident, knowing their dogs won’t remain bored all day.

4| CBD-Infused Pet Treats Offer Natural Wellness

CBD-related products are exploding across the pet market. One company leading the charge is Canna-Pet, whose CBD-based supplements attract pet owners who see the hemp-derived substance as a natural way to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and promote digestive health.

Source: www.canna-pet.com

The pet supplement category is already booming, and increasing public awareness of CBD’s wellness benefits are driving strong interest among pet owners. A 2019 study from Packaged Facts found that 39% of dog owners and 34% of cat owners in the US like the idea of CBD as a pet wellness strategy.

As pet owners move more towards proactive and natural pet care, the growth of CBD in pet supplements is inevitable.

Getting To Market Quickly: From Idea To Product In 2 Weeks

Brands that want to compete using standard R&D strategies may see success, but they’ll rarely create the kind of products that others look at with envy.

For pet industry innovators who want to be first to market, we suggest an alternative approach.

We call it the NPD Hackathon.

Using online ethnography, we’re able to follow the habits and goals of leading edge consumers via social media listening. This grants us an unusual level of insight into the daily behaviors and deep-seated concerns of specific groups of consumers over a period of two weeks.

At the close of the ethnography period, we hold a cross-department, one-day hackathon where we go from raw insights to complete product concept. Stakeholders coming from Marketing, Sales, R&D, and CMI—often with the help of these leading edge consumers—are able to co-create products that would have never been possible in a normal office environment.

It’s the fastest way to get a profound look at your market’s lifestyle, then create an innovative minimum viable product concept that’s ready to be developed in two weeks.

(And if getting all the stakeholders together sounds like a nightmare, we have cooperative approaches for ensuring thoughtful communication and collaboration.)

We go into detail in our NPD Hackathon Case Study. Read it and discover…

  • How our unique online ethnography process uncovers profound consumer insights
  • Why getting stakeholders together for a one day workshop generates incredible results
  • Next steps for turning your vague ideas into powerful, on-trend products

Ready to become a high velocity innovator?

💬 Should you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out. I would be more than happy to hear from you - ludovic.depoortere@haystack-consulting.com 

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“Agile consumer immersion and co-creation during early stages of the innovation process”