Millennials – the largest group of consumers and leaders in pet ownership – are not surprisingly leaders when it comes to spending on their pets. However, millennial shoppers are known to be serial avoiders of anything that looks like traditional marketing, which is why pet food companies need to appeal to emotion in order to differentiate themselves and gain and retain customers, according to Bob Wheatley, founder and CEO, Emergent, speaking on April 4 at Petfood Forum 2017.

Understanding how the brain works

There are two brain systems at work: system one, or effortless, and system two, effortful, Wheatley said. System two is considered the learning, cognizant, aware part of our conscious, and it can process up to 40 bits of information per second. System one, our subconscious, has the capacity to process up to 11 million bits of information per second. It is this system, which generates impressions and feelings and acts without deliberate analysis, that has a powerful influence on consumers’ purchase decisions when it comes to choosing a food for their pet.

“It is not conscious thought that informs the decisions we make,” Wheatley said.

Wheatley said that most pet food brands now are communicating analytical information on store shelves, which is not consistent with the way system one operates and the way consumers choose pet food. He gave six insights that should be considered by pet food marketers who want to appeal to millennial pet owners and keep them as loyal customers.  

1. Exposure effect

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