Pet business in Bulgaria: towards quality and differentiation

As the minimum wages in both the civil and private sectors in Bulgaria have increased, lifestyles are changing and pet owners are taking more interest in healthy diets for themselves and their pets. They no longer seek quantity but look for quality. Foods without GMOs, gluten free, natural ingredients et cetera are entering the market. 

Mass communication campaigns

Nestlé Purina and Mars are increasing advertising budgets to support their TV campaigns, media presence and POS sales, in order to remind customers of the benefits of their pets’ diets. The market is growing, and as leading players are investing more money in order to gain market share, many others will follow. In general, there is an increase in mass media campaigns by leading players, with an emphasis on wet food that comes in different flavours, and easy to open and close packaging for portion control.

More specialised food for cats and dogs

Manufacturers are expanding their ranges for both cats and dogs, in order to meet the different needs with more targeted products. As marketing theory states, as the segments are becoming increasingly saturated, manufacturers are seeking to increase margins through differentiation. Hence, manufacturers are introducing added-value products by targeting breeds, age, health conditions, et cetera. 

Pouches, for example, have gained popularity as this packaging can easily be customised, and the small portions help to diversify the diets of cats and dogs. Even though many cats and dogs are still eating food scraps, there is a significant increase in the sales of supplements. Pet owners are becoming more aware of the health benefits that supplements provide, especially supplements for healthy joints and skin and hair care.

Other segments

Other pet food segments are present only in the specialist channel. Grocery retailers have not invested in private labels in this segment and do not even hold wide stocks of existing brands. However, as internet sales are still not high in volume, this could be the right time for manufacturers to optimise their online sales channel and use it to start selling directly to consumers.

Growing economy

As the Bulgarian economy grows, consumers are becoming more concerned about the well-being of their pets. They are willing to go further in finding the right nutrition. Novel products that are both eco-friendly and have a high-quality level will differentiate in the Bulgarian market.

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Author

Vassilis Goulielmos

Owner, Well Done Ltd.
Food safety and trends; Packaging & sustainability; Eastern Europe