PromotINg DIetary SolutIoNS
Offering dietary solutions to consumers and their pets is crucial for retailers when
promoting limited-ingredient diets, said Todd Wigert, vice president of independent
sales for Natural Balance Pet Foods in Burbank, Calif.
Offering both value and selection is key, said Ann Hudson, vice president, marketing, for St. Louis-based Whitebridge Pet Brands, maker of Cloud Star products.
“Great products come and go, and many times a failed launch can be traced back
to affordability,” she said. “Owners want to feed the best, and if you can give them a
limited-ingredient, grain-free, baked kibble for less than $60 MSRP, it’s a big win.”
And don’t make owners visit other stores to find what they need or want,
“Be creative and merchandise multiple formats together to show all the feeding
options a brand like Cloud Star has to offer: baked food, wet food, mixes and treats,”
Cross-promotion is a useful tool in creating awareness, particularly in a formula
family such as limited-ingredient pet foods, Wigert agreed. If a store places similar
items in close proximity, consumers will be visually led toward filling their basket
with like offerings, such as wet food, dry food and treats.
Building relationships with pet health care providers also can serve to get the
“Lately, veterinary referrals have been a good chunk of our LID marketing,” said
Heidi Vanorse Neal, owner of The Loyal Biscuit Co., which has locations in Maine.
“They have been fantastic in sending people to us.”
Holly Allen, co-owner of Dee-O-Gee in Bozeman, Mont., agreed that promotion
of limited-ingredient diets often is accomplished through collaboration with the
“We have received a lot of referrals from veterinarians in our area, and we have
vets that come here to purchase holistic foods and supplements,” she said.
growINg lImIteD-INgreDIeNt KNowleDge
Over the past several years, it has become increasingly difficult for consumers to
distinguish between limited-ingredient diets and formulas that might be grain free
but not limited in ingredients, said Todd Wigert, vice president of independent sales
for Natural Balance Pet Foods in Burbank, Calif.
“In order for pet parents to feel confident in their purchase decisions, they
need to be aware that limited-ingredient foods are carefully formulated to provide
complete nutrition for various life stages,” Wigert said.
As with all pet foods, education is crucial in helping pet owners recognize the
role of diet in alleviating symptoms caused by food allergies or sensitivities, said
Pete Brace, vice president of communications and pet parent relations for Merrick
Pet Care in Amarillo, Texas.
Additionally, consumers must understand why they are feeding the formulas
selected, and for these reasons, it is important that they are able to look to the store
associate for expert advice, he said.
At The Big Bad Woof, with locations in Washington, D.C., and Hyattsville, Md.,
education is an involved learning process that includes staff-meeting presentations covering issues such as digestion, digestive enzymes and probiotics, said
Julie Paez, co-owner.
“LID foods are important, and talking about them is a great way for our sales
staff to have a more in depth, meaningful and supportive conversation with the pet
guardian,” Paez said. “Because they are talking more at length with the customer
about the need to look at a diet as a solution, it opens the door to other suggestions
that may be helpful.”
Asking the right questions and providing the proper information is essential
when guiding consumers who might or might not know if a limited-ingredient
formula is best for their pet, agreed Shelby Wisniewski, manager of integrated
marketing and consumer experience at Nature’s Variety Instinct Pet Food in St. Louis.
“Instinct partners with retailers to provide educational materials that will
explain LIDs, and drive a deeper understanding of the primary causes of digestive
upset and food sensitivities,” Wisniewski said.
Education is essential at Dee-O-Gee in Bozeman, Mont., said co-owner Holly
Allen. Aside from taking advantage of the educational opportunities provided by
vendors, associates research and study independently and as a whole.
“One person may take the question, ‘Why LID?’ and another will study the ‘
benefits of LID,’ and then they will present their findings to the group,” Allen said.
As a result of this tutelage, Dee-O-Gee has built a local reputation of offering
products they stand behind and are knowledgeable about, Allen added.
wheN IS leSS more?
The adage “less is more” certainly rings true when it comes to limited-ingredient dog foods, said Matt Scheil, vice president of sales at Tucker’s Raw Frozen and Treats, a division of Raw Basics, in Pleasant Prairie, Wis.
“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity,” Scheil said. “Keeping the diet simple can help everything from digestion to
allergies in a pet.”
Limited-ingredient diets offer a short list of high-quality ingredients, and an absence of elements pet owners might
wish to avoid in an animal experiencing allergies or sensitivities, said Pete Brace, vice president of communications and
pet parent relations for Merrick Pet Care in Amarillo, Texas.
Further, companies manufacturing limited-ingredient formulations tend to offer cleaner ingredient decks, said Julie
Paez, co-owner of The Big Bad Woof, with locations in Washington, D.C, and Hyattsville, Md.
“We generally encounter two categories of consumer feeding LID foods,” said Holly Allen, co-owner of Dee-O-Gee
in Bozeman, Mont. “The first group consists of people who believe their pet needs this type of diet for one reason or
The second category encompasses consumers whose veterinarians have recommended a limited-ingredient diet
and who do not wish to feed a prescription food, she added.
“They want something more on the holistic side, but they still want that one protein, one fat—they want that basic
LID,” Allen said.
At The Big Bad Woof, limited-ingredient diets are becoming increasingly important to the product mix, said co-owner
“An LID has a very important place in our market,” Jones-Napier said. “While our first solution for a bad food intolerance or an allergy is a raw diet, some people just can’t go there for different reasons, including philosophical viewpoints.
We have a lot of vegetarians who don’t want to feed raw meat, but they are fine with kibble.”
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