WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Super-, hyper-, ultra-premium; superlatives roll over each other to express difference and superiority. Superlatives that aim to express a high quality-standard, but seem to have created confusion in the end-buyers' minds, resulting in price being a key component for

decision-making.

When focusing on dog and catfood it can be said that in the Spanish market - that is more dry oriented than most of the bigger and more developped petfood markets in Europe; and where prepared petfood penetration is below the European average - this has led to a very peculiar situation: the position of superpremium is now threatened by premium in the specialty trade-channels, whereas premium is under heavy fire from private labels in mas distribution with its inherent huge number of frequent shoppers.

There doesn't seem to be any reason to believe that the Spanish dog and cat-owners wish to spend less on foods for their animals; but given the opportunity to buy – what appears to be a good offer – at lower prices than they were accustomed to, they will evidently chose the cheaper option. Are the distinghuising components of the foods strong and relevant enough?

By now, both manufacturers and retailers seem to suffer from the same self-inflicted wound: the price-weapon started to be used at a development-stage of the category where further healthy and beneficial growth could have been obtained by all serious players in the category.

What happened however was that the branded manufacturers left the doors of retail wide open for the private label operators, resulting in a private label share in Spain that is way above the European average. This is in no way in the interest of neither the manufacturers that offer branded products – nor of the specialty trade.

So what's in a name? The top-end of the market is under severe pressure. Manufacturers are fighting each other for short-term gain, specialty retail has grown into the habit of demanding increased margins (through discounts and rappels) for a flat performance.

Instead of this marketing myopia (failure to see down the road") manufacturers and retailers should together recreate the opportunity to expand the superpremium category, because the reward for their effort will be super premium!

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