eComms Spotlight: Being agile in a Cost-of-Living Crisis

The pandemic boom of pet ownership has continued to see the pet industry grow. We dive into changing buyer behaviours as a result of the cost-of-living crisis and look at how online pet retailers are adapting to these changes.

Rover estimates that the average dog owner spends anywhere from £48 – £252 per month on their dog, a staggering amount if you consider the average disposable monthly income in the UK is £2,156.

Pet care continues to be a thriving industry with consistent levels of growth, making it even more important to investigate buyer behaviour and spending changes, especially during a cost-of –living crisis.

Through a series of insightful interviews and research data, we aim to shed light on how pet owners’ purchasing behaviours adapt when confronted with financial constraints and how eCommerce retailers can respond effectively. 

Our Research

The data from our own market research, reveals that, in times of rising living costs, pet owners expect retailers to demonstrate value for money, provide an excellent customer experience, and offer vouchers or discounted products. Pet owners are torn between opting for cheaper products with shorter lifespans or investing in higher quality items for longevity. Striking a balance between affordability and quality is crucial for retailers aiming to cater to diverse consumer preferences.  

When faced with a reduced budget, pet owners exhibit changes in their online shopping behaviour. They tend to actively search for sale items as well as spending more time researching new products and brands to find alternative brands, this is more evident in pet food as opposed to health and care. These adaptations underline the importance of providing cost-effective options, sales promotions, and transparent product information to meet the evolving needs of budget-conscious consumers. 

Industry Interview

We caught up with the Digital Marketing Manager at a leading online RAW food retailer to understand how marketing teams are recognising and adapting to changing consumer behaviours.  

We learnt that the cost-of-living crisis had an effect across the whole industry and with dips in monthly sales numbers, many competitors were creating offers to maintain interest and not lose their loyal customer base as the market became more financially competitive. 

It is this type of agility that helped them survive over the last few years, alongside using customer behaviour and feedback to give extra value. 

“Increasing comms and reassigning budget to give more focus on some of the key products has been key to business growth. Our customers are loyal, but we must keep our eye on their economic situation and address accordingly – both for the customer and also our business. We are working hard to improve our internal platforms to get a better understanding of our customers and capture even more of their feedback so we can continue to make improvements.

We track customer feedback and use Feefo and Google reviews to help improve our customer service. This helps ensure we maintain a good service standard and hopefully spot any trouble areas to ensure our customers continue to feel valued.”

Opportunities and Learnings

Even in a growth industry, such as pet products, our customer insights and retailer perspectives point to a need for customer and buyer data to help define the need for a marketing strategy that aligns with purchaser needs. 

Balancing affordability with quality, leveraging customer feedback, and remaining agile in response to changing economic landscapes are key components of a successful eCommerce strategy to ensure pet retailers are focusing on long term growth and customer retention. 

As the eCommerce space continues to evolve, understanding and adapting to shifting consumer behaviours will be crucial for businesses to thrive amidst economic challenges. 

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