Pet care e-commerce is an increasingly competitive space. In L2’s Digital IQ Index: Pet Care US, independently owned brands loom large behind enterprises such as Nestlé Purina. While incumbents risk disruption from nimbler ankle-biters, brand recognition remains important to customers shopping the category: branded queries (e.g. “temptations cat treats”) maintain a 61% share of Google search volume. However, Blue Buffalo employs a unique Google search strategy to steal clicks from brand-oriented shoppers. That strategy helps the brand earn a Genius ranking in L2’s study, one of just two independently owned brands to do so.
Blue Buffalo cedes visibility against its own branded terms to e-tailers where consumers are more likely to make a purchase, according to L2 research. For example, Chewy is visible against 90% and 79% of PLA and AdWords search results for Blue Buffalo branded keywords (e.g. “blue buffalo dog food”), respectively. Instead, Blue Buffalo aggressively bids against competitors’ branded terms to train brand-switching behavior. The brand appears on the first page of AdWords results against branded queries for 16 unique Pet Care brands, including 38% of branded searches for Kibbles ‘n’ Bits.
Blue Buffalo further facilitates customer acquisition by linking consumers who click on these AdWords results to an on-site product comparison tool, where they can compare their current pet food to Blue Buffalo’s products. Below the tool is a dynamic carousel that highlights the daily cost of switching to Blue Buffalo pet food from one’s current brand. The tool also includes a coupon for Blue Buffalo products, acknowledging the fact that Blue Buffalo is more expensive than most of its competitor brands.