A different ballgame: Consumer education crucial to drive pet supplements growth – Nectar of the dogs
Launched in 2021, Nectar of the Dogs specialises in human-grade, plant-based powdered supplements for dogs.
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, its founder Gabriel Perera sees a need for more consumer education when it comes to pet supplements.
“There is absolutely a knowledge gap between what we understand health supplements for the human physiology and the animal physiology. While there are some parallels between both, consumers may not necessarily know how to prescribe the same products for their pets.
“So, there’s a learning curve we need to help them with. My experience in the human supplement industry 15 to 20 years ago, people did not know a lot about supplements then, so there was a big education push at that time by most brands.”
Its consumer efforts span his “A Modern Animal Podcast” co-hosted with an Australian veterinarian to address commonly asked questions by pet owners, as well as educating distribution partners on when to recommend its products.
Its product range spans five targeted concerns - immune support, calmness, joint, skin, and gut health.
Referencing human supplements, Perera justified the challenge of product development in pet supplements: “The interesting thing is that there’s no placebo effect for dogs. It’s very much a binary zero or one. Unlike human supplements, it’s often very hard to quantify the benefits. As humans, we think we know we did not get sick last month because we were taking our immune supplements. For dogs, it’s not about whether he or she feels better but whether he or she is better or not.”
While the powder format makes for “a very high potency product,” the brand found that most pet owners want something that is “quick, easy, no mess, no fuss.”
“We’re introducing some chewables around allergies, and one of our key propositions is the clinically researched ingredients in every single formulation. These ingredients are researched in the species. They must be high quality, double-blind placebo-controlled research on dogs before we use them in our nectar formulations.”
Perera added that the behavioural psychology of pet owners is similar to that of parents buying for small children: “The mum or pet parent is making all the decisions, but key considerations from the child or the pet’s point of view is whether it is tasty, easy to take, and whether they enjoyed the experience.”
He said a key barrier to purchase is whether the pet will reject the product. Therefore, it invested in single-serve samples offered in-store and at trade shows.
The brand is also eyeing cats supplements in the “near future”.
About 20% of its sales come from its website, while 80% of it are distributed at pet specialty channels and pharmacies.
Perera explained that pet specialty channels is its primary focus as these tend to be the early adopters of premium pet foods or supplements.
It is targeting export in Asia for now, with a focus on South East Asia and China, due to Perera’s previous experience distributing human supplements to these markets. In the longer-term, the brand hopes to enter the “holy grail” US market, where the brand said that it has the highest number of pet owners and an advanced pet supplement market.