The pet care industry is booming. Pet food sales alone totaled $24 billion in the US in 2016, a 4% year-on-year increase. While major generalist retailers (Amazon, Walmart) carry pet care products and are benefiting from the trend, much of search visibility belongs to pet-specific domains like petMD.com and Petco.com, which lead the top 10 organic results for category search terms like Google.
Part of pet-specific retailers’ advantage is their ability to provide unique services such as transactional loyalty programs, auto-replenishment, and in-store pickup for online orders. Knowing this, brands should and are invest accordingly. While some brands like Purina Dog Chow, Friskies and Pedigree continue to invest in traditional e-commerce platforms, most brands favor pet-specific retailers.
On retailers like PetSmart and Petco, brands have the opportunity to showcase their brand. Blue Buffalo, for example, invests in informative product pages, reviews, and bespoke brand pages on PetSmart. It also prioritizes search visibility on these retailers, and as a result is visible on 48% of first page results for category search terms on Petco and 84% of first page results on PetSmart. Legacy brands with top shelf visibility in these retailers should note that their offline advantage does not translate online without additional investment.