Falling demand for dog food undermines pet care market performance
Total pet care current value sales and total pet food volume sales both declined in 2012. This was mainly due to falling demand for dog food as Japan’s pet dog population continued to decline. However, rates of decline in total pet care current value sales and total pet food volume sales were both slower than those recorded in 2011, indicating that the declining trend in the pet dog population is gradually levelling off. Moreover, the performance of the entire pet care market was lifted as an increase in the pet cat population supported a return to growth in volume sales for the cat food category after three consecutive years of decline. Similarly, the increasing willingness of cat owners to trade up to premium dry cat food products helped to slow the decline in total pet care current value sales. Other pet food meanwhile continued to show volume and current value sales declines, mainly due to a decline in the pet fish population. At the same time, however, the growing tendency of owners to ‘humanise’ pets (especially dogs and cats) helped to bolster spending on pet products.
Japanese dog owners show a growing preference for smaller breeds
The numbers of large and medium-sized dogs in Japan’s pet dog population declined by much more than the number of small dogs during the review period. This was partly because smaller breeds tend to have longer life spans. At the same time, rising urbanisation also fuelled the growing preference for small dogs, which are better suited to living in apartments and flats. Similarly, population ageing helped to increase the popularity of smaller breeds, as elderly people can find it difficult to manage larger dogs. Most dog food companies responded to this general trend by introducing smaller pack sizes and more convenient packaging formats such as stand-up pouches. However, since larger breeds tend to eat more, this trend continued to compound the negative impact that the decline in the total pet dog population had on demand for dog food in 2012.
Market leaders Mars and Unicharm drive trend towards greater segmentation
Mars Japan Ltd remained the overall leader in pet care in current value sales terms in 2012, followed by Unicharm Corp. The market lead held by Mars is built on an extensive dog and cat food portfolio that covers all price segments and includes globally renowned brands like Pedigree, Royal Canin and Kal Kan (Whiskas). Unicharm meanwhile is mainly focused on dog food, though it also offers cat food and cat litter products. These two companies were also among the leaders in terms of driving the trend towards greater segmentation in dog and cat food during the review period. To offset growing competition from cheaper brands and private label ranges, both companies launched new age-, breed- and size-specific dog and cat food products, as well as new flavour variants. Both companies were particularly active in developing and marketing new products for senior dogs and cats.
Internet retailing makes strong gains in pet care distribution
Home and garden specialist retailers remained the most important distribution channel for pet care products in Japan in 2012, followed by pet shops and supermarkets. During the review period, however, these and other channels experienced value share declines due to the rapid advance of internet retailing. Aside from strong growth in the number of companies selling pet care products over the internet, this channel’s performance was bolstered by increasing consumer appreciation for the convenience and capacity for easy price comparison afforded by shopping online. The fact that online operators are frequently able to offer lower prices than their store-based counterparts also supported robust value share gains for the internet retailing channel.
Slower decline in pet dog population will lift market performance towards 2018
Total pet care constant value sales and total pet food volume sales are both expected to decline over the forecast period. This will be mainly due to further declines in the pet dog population, specifically in the numbers of large and medium-sized pet dogs. However, this trend will gradually level off towards 2018, and together with steady growth in the pet cat population, this should ensure that the rate of decline in total pet food volume sales is markedly slower than that recorded during the review period. Similarly, the decline in total pet care constant value sales is expected to remain quite small thanks to rising demand for higher quality and more advanced pet food products that are designed for specific breeds, animals of different ages, sizes etc. The decline in total constant value sales will be limited as the ‘pet humanisation’ trend encourages owners to increase spending on pet products.
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The Pet Care in Japan market research report includes:
- Analysis of key supply-side and demand trends
- Detailed segmentation of international and local products
- Historic volumes and values, company and brand market shares
- Five year forecasts of market trends and market growth
- Robust and transparent market research methodology, conducted in-country
Our market research reports answer questions such as:
- What is the market size of Pet Care in Japan?
- What are the major brands in Japan?
- How did the downturn affect pet care spending?
- Which is the best-performing category within pet care?
- Which is the fastest-growing pet food manufacturer?
- How have pet specialists fared in recent years?
- What are growth prospects for pet care in the next 5 years?
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This industry report originates from Passport, our Pet Care market research database.