Pet owners tend to be loyal to their favorite brands: according to a 2019 survey by the market research firm Numerator, 38% of shoppers who bought dry dog food and 33% who bought dry cat food were likely to repeat the purchase within a year. (This is comparable to human infant formula, which has a 35% repeat purchase rate.) The same survey found that new pet owners tend to go to pet specialty stores to stock up on their initial supply of food, and that is often where brand loyalty is born: owners of multiple pets are likely to feed the same brand to all their animals, even across species.

However, even the most-loyal customers can be swayed by lower prices. A poll by IRI Worldwide found that 95% of pet owners choose their grocery store based on low everyday prices and good sale prices, and that 85% tend to stock up when they find a good deal. In-store shoppers are more likely to add impulse purchases: nearly half claimed that they were less inclined to do so when shopping online.

Numerator suggests that brands hoping to target new customers should try to interact with them early in their pet ownership, at rescue centers, vets, or within online pet communities and offer deals. That advice, according to Kathryn Peters, executive vice president of strategic initiatives at SPINS, a research firm devoted to healthy products, applies to stores as well, especially in a market coming out of pandemic lockdowns.