What’s the secret to being number one in the Pet Food category again? At Royal Canin, we always put cats and dogs first. We want to make a better world for them, as they bring so much to us. As a science-based company, our focus is clearly on health. This is not just a marketing gimmick, but a true North Star. Globally, more than 345 Associates are dedicated to R&D and 500 are veterinarians or experts in pet health and nutrition. Ultimately, we believe our obsession with health is noticed and valued by pet owners, even more so in these times of pandemic. As the first petfood brand in Belgium, we wish to be a role model for Responsible Pet Ownership. For example, we consciously decide to not portray cats and dogs if they are in a discomfort, stressed, overwhelmed or if they are not showing a normal behavior such as wearing clothes, hats, sunglasses… Has Royal Canin’s marketing strategy changed since the health pandemic? Health is and will remain our North Star. What we see changing are behaviors: pet owners increasingly go online to purchase products or to get the information they need. Prepandemic, Royal Canin was already on the path to digitalization, but the course of events has accelerated it. We need to keep up to date with the latest consumer choices to reach and serve them the best we can. We also value our partners. Our digital journey is built with them; through monitoring and screening tools and services such as the Royal Start program, that supports breeders in their activity, from task management to nutritional advisement. We are going beyond nutrition, building tools and services that help our partners to better care for cats and dogs.
There are a lot of smaller brands entering the market emphasizing fresh and health product. How do you see these trends developing in the near future?
Cats and dogs are becoming true members of families, with more time and care dedicated to them by pet owners (or now pet parents). We see this evolution as a good thing when it doesn’t fall into humanization. Human trends are not to be applied to our pets, we should feed their nature, not ours. We all know nutrition can be provided by multiple means: food can be homemade, raw, natural, ingredient-based, nutrient-based or a combination of these amongst others. What’s critically important is that all nutrients a pet needs are provided. Nutrient-based, science-led health nutrition is Royal Canin’s philosophy because this is the most precise way to tailor nutrition to the specific needs of individual cats and dogs.
Does Royal Canin answer these trends and what initiatives do you plan related to animal health?
At Royal Canin, we put our scientific knowledge at the service of the health and wellbeing of pets.
We do not follow hypes or trends. We partner with pet experts—veterinarians, breeders, pet store retailers—to tailor precise nutritional formulas to the real-world needs of individual pets. We support pet health through our products, but we also use this ecosystem to raise awareness on key-health issues such as overweight, which is the n°1 sensitivity in cats and dogs. We deliver trainings to vet nurses and created a tool for vet clinics to easily discuss the topic with their patients. We have spread the word on our website, our social channels including LinkedIn via our employees and via mass media through the opening of the Healthy Weight Clinic, the first in Belgium and second in Europe. Customers can also register to our fit program, that will support and guide them through their pet’s weight loss journey. All year long, pet parents can access our science via our online content. Knowledge is to be shared!
Disruption often comes from unexpected players. Can we say that brands such as Edgar & Cooper are shaking things up?
There are always new initiatives and new players trying to shake things up. We see that as a good thing, as long as it benefits pets. Innovation should increase the relevancy of a diet, not copy human food trends.
Millennials are the largest segment of pet parents. How do you reach this target group?
Pet parents are more and more active in finding information that helps them to be the best possible pet parents. They deserve to be properly informed. As a science-based company, we work hard to deliver relevant content, information, and knowledge to them, when and where they need it. We do so increasingly online, but also still instore and at the vet during their visit. In the end, pet health is all that matters; the better informed we are, the better we can act responsibly towards it.
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