Instead of looking at pet food label regulations as cumbersome, manufacturers can look at truth in labeling as an opportunity to achieve marketing success. Small businesses who cater to a niche market can especially benefit from these regulations, since they can use the label as an opportunity to demonstrate the superiority of their product over better-known competitors.
In an article published on its website, the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) explains the regulations to pet food manufacturers so they can understand the importance of accurate labeling. According to the AAFCO, pet food labels “[are] highly regulated both on a federal and a state level.” The following is a list of four of the eight pieces of information that manufacturers must include on the labels. In addition to listing the required information, makers of high-quality pet food can use this information to give them an edge in marketing their product. Here’s how:
1. Portray Ingredients Accurately With Brand and Product Names
Pet foods that do not contain an adequate amount of a given ingredient must have product and brand names that reflect the contents accurately. For example, a dog food that is only flavored with lamb broth could not call itself “Tender Lamb and Rice Dog Food.” A high-end manufacturer, though, could use that title if they included the required amount of lamb in the mix.
The name on the label could, then, create a brand image that exudes quality. Customers looking for dog food that contains large amounts of real lamb meat and rice will flock to such a brand. Adding a logo featuring a lamb and a sheaf of rice will draw the attention of dog owners who want dog food that contains large amounts of lamb meat and rice, ingredients that help some dogs alleviate allergies.
2. State Clearly Which Animal the Food Is Created For
Customers want to know at a glance whether the food is for Fido or Kitty. It also makes good marketing sense to include the species’ name on the label in large print and in a prominent location. Customers get frustrated if they can’t find the information they want quickly.
3. Include the Quantity of Food in the Package on the Label
The net volume or net weight of the pet food must appear on the bottom third of the label. Pounds and ounces are not sufficient. Metric units must also appear on the label. Furthermore, if a manufacturer ever hopes to market his or her product outside of the United States, including the quantity in metric units would be a savvy marketing tool even if it were not a requirement.
4. Provide a Guaranteed Analysis of Nutrients on the Label
To promote the nutritional benefits of their pet food, high-quality pet food manufacturers need to list the percentages of nutrients their food contains. Although the United States requires this breakdown of nutrients, it is also good marketing sense, even in countries in which it is not a requirement. When pet foods provide this information in an easily understandable format, they can promote their product’s superior quality by showing how their food exceeds the required daily percentages for good pet health. Since an approved laboratory must certify the percentages of each ingredient, savvy pet food makers can add some promotional punch by also stating the certifying laboratory on the label to build trust in their brand.
Therefore, even the smallest startup pet food makers can turn red tape into marketing genius by using the labeling requirements to their advantage when promoting their product. When they add a logo that reflects the image of their brand to their labels, pet owners will take notice and try out the product on their pets.
Manufacturers of consumable products other than pet food may want to take a look at the pet food industry’s regulations for marketing ideas. Informing the buying public about quality materials used in any product’s manufacture can pay big dividends in sales.
Stay tuned for the rest of the story on how to turn industry regulations into powerful marketing tools. The pet food industry has even more marketing gold to uncover.