Marketing Communication Analysis #3 Fancy Feast Michele M. Chenette Excelsior College Abstract Cats have been known to delight their owners for many years. A recent study indicated cat owners are less likely to die of a heart attack or stroke than people who do not own cats. (McClatchy Newspapers, 2008). While that statistic is interesting, people do not adopt cats because of their health benefits. Many people, like me, are life long ailurophiles. We just cannot get enough of the furry little creatures. Cats are known to be persnickety, willful and downright stubborn.
But their beauty and grace and distinct personality possessed by each are traits cherished by cat fanciers. Here are some quotes by famous cat fanciers (Catquotes. com, n. d. ): “What greater gift than the love of a cat? ”. – Charles Dickens “Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this. ” – Anonymous “The Smallest feline is a masterpiece” – Leonardo DaVinci The quotes illustrate that ailurophilia has existed throughout the history. Sure, cats had their dark days when they were associated with witchcraft. But today, the cat is very popular and outnumbers dogs in terms of ownership.
Cats can be left alone for long periods of time because they can relieve themselves in a litter box. This is attractive to people who lead busy lives, and spend late hours on the road or at the office, but still crave the companionship of a pet. Cats also make great pets for those who live in apartments as they do not require a lot of room or even a yard. The Food and Drug Administration regulates cat food (and other animal feed) be pure and wholesome, safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled. (FDA, 2009).
Purina has been in the business of animal feed since 1893, when it was founded by William H. Danforth. Danforth’s sales promotion skills were ahead of his time. He realized the value of a distinctive trademark. In a time when standard packaging was practically nonexistent, he bagged his Chows in sacks marked vividly with a uniform red and white checkerboard pattern. The Purina Checkerboard has become one of the most famous and effective trademarks in American business. (Purina, n. d. ). Today, Purina offers a variety of dog and cat food, but we will focus on “Fancy Feast Elegant Medleys”.
Fancy Feast’s Target Customer The target customer for Fancy Feast is the cat owner. The Humane Society of the United States estimates there are 88. 3 million cats owned as pets in the United States. This translates into about 34 percent of U. S. households owning at least one cat, while 56 percent own more than one cat. Eighteen percent of these cats are adopted from a shelter. (Humane Society of the United States, 2008). The Fancy Feast line offers four products. First, the “plain” fancy feast can that was the original wet cat food they offered.
Next, they have a more expensive wet cat food line called “elegant medleys” which we will focus on. They also offer gourmet dry cat food, and a wet cat food specifically for kittens. This variety allows them to offer products to market segments, witch are sub groups of target markets of customers with similar needs and likely to engage in similar purchase behavior. Based on the foods described above, you have a submarket for wet cat food (the Fancy Feast can or the “upscale” elegant medleys), dry cat food and a special can just for kittens.
This gives a submarket of age and price. This also allows Fancy Fest to reach higher potential profits by offering the variety. A Fancy Feast customer who adopts a new kitten is likely to stick with Fancy Feast kitten food, but if they migrate to another brand, they may switch their other cats to another brand. Fancy Feast is targeted to the market segments that are true cat lovers and want the best for their cat. The name alone “Fancy Feast” is a term that cat lovers would understand. Elegant Medleys – Website
Elegant Medleys is a line of Fancy Feast that is marketed as ‘Restaurant Inspired” food for cats. The website shows a still shot of the food in a ramekin, elegantly sitting atop a white dish. See http://www. fancyfeast. com/elegant-medleys/. The website indicates that the food is “artfully prepared recipes” and offers such categories as “Tuscany, Primavera, Shredded Fare, Florentine and Souffle”. This is much more appealing than the traditional “loaf” or “shredded” options typical of cat food companies. Clicking on a particular food brings up a section “About this Recipe”.
For example, Tender Turkey Tuscany in a Savory Sauce with Long Grain Rice and Garden Greens is described as an “enticing Tuscan inspired recipe with turkey in a savory sauce, complimented with long grain rice and garden greens. A cat does not care about the name of a food. They do not care if it is restaurant inspired or not. They can be picky eaters, but the picky cat may prefer the cheapest brand food. When a cat is sick and has a poor appetite, the veterinarian will recommend buying the stinkiest cat food available, often a lower price brand called Figaro.
They even recommend heating it up in the microwave to accent the smell, so it will appeal more to the sick animal. Cats do not eat in restaurants and they do not care if a food has rice and greens or not. The marketers at Fancy Feast are clearly appealing to the owner’s desire to purchase the best for their cat. This is a very clever tactic, as they know that animal owners tend to humanize their animals. In my experience, my cats will eat just about anything I put in front of them. But I admit that when I had an elderly (19 year old) cat with a poor appetite, I would purchase anything I could get him to eat.
Fancy Feast Elegant Medleys was one of my choices, because I thought it might appeal to him more. I think the variety available may have helped to entice him as he became curious about new flavors. But, then again, maybe I was just humanizing my cat. One of the other nice things about fancy feast is the can size. The can is smaller than some competitors cans. It is just enough for one meal for one cat. I like this can size because I do not have to reseal a bigger can and put it in the refrigerator then warm it up to serve it again (cats do not like to eat cold food).
To keep consistent with the upscale message fancy feast wants to present, they use a fluffy white Persian cat on their ad campaign. A Persian cat has long been a symbol of status and wealth in the cat world. The truth is, the Persian requires frequent grooming and often suffers from respiratory issues due to its flat face. But most cat lovers are not aware of this. The website even has a “confessions of love” section where owners can write about their cats and discuss their true tales of feline devotion. Fancy feast is again appealing to the cat lover, not the cat.
Look at the bottom of the screen for a section that boasts “70 ways to say I love you” featuring all the canned varieties of food Fancy Feast makes. http://www. fancyfeast. com/confessions/#/1917 Fancy Feast Commercial Fancy Feast Elegant Medleys is one of the most creative cat food commercials I’ve seen. http://www. zadzadz. com/Fancy-Feast-Elegant-Medleys-Chefs-commercial It starts with a view of a kitchen with chef’s preparing “slow grilled wild salmon with crisp garden greens”. The song “It Had to be you” is played on a piano in the background. The food looks delicious.
Then, the narrator says this dish is an inspiration for Fancy Feast Elegant Medley’s, the restaurant inspired food for cats. The picture shifts to a cat owner presenting her elegant Persian with a dish (not a bowl) of the food, which is actually shown being nudged by a fork before the cat eats it. The cat is perfectly groomed and after the meal the cat sits lovingly on its owner while the narrative states “Is it love, or is it Fancy Feast? ” When a viewer first sees this commercial, with the kitchen and the chefs, it can make your mouth water. It does not appear as a cat food commercial.
This is a very clever idea. The marketers at Purina know that cats do not watch TV. They are too busy chasing imaginary mice and ignoring their owners. Cat owners make the decisions about the food they buy. Message Being Communicated Fancy Feast consistently communicates the message of an upscale product. They do this in several ways. First, they name the product “elegant medleys”. Then, they market it with fancy names like “White Meat Chicken Primavera in a Classic Sauce with Garden Veggies and Greens”. They use a Persian cat to market the product. This breed has an upscale ssociation due to its cost and its appearance. But Fancy Feast is careful not to over emphasize the Persian. It does not have a name or any distinguishing qualities (like the Morris cat of Nine Lives). Purina is probably aware that doing so could be detrimental, as many cat owners feel that purchasing a pure bred cat is just putting another nail in the coffin of a desperate shelter cat. Overall effectiveness Fancy Feast commercials are very effective. They know that cats do not watch TV so they must use an angle that appeals to people. They use the restaurant angle as Americans love food and love to dine out.
They are aware that people tend to humanize their cats so that they may feel their cat deserves a restaurant inspired meal like they do. They name the foods with names that are much more appealing to people. Names of competitors’ cat food include “liver and beef loaf” or “shredded tuna” or “super supper” Those items have a connotation of mystery meat. A cat will eat a can of sardines just as voraciously as they will a can of Fancy Feast Elegant Medley’s, but the customer feels better about buying the fancy feast, because the commercial did a great job of marketing and telling them what is in the food in a way that appeals to them.
The use of the term “is it love or is it Fancy Feast” appeals to the cat lover’s feelings for their cat. It implies that love is food. In American culture today, love is often shown through food. This may in fact have contributed to the current obesity epidemic in humans. The marketers are well aware of this association and use it to their advantage. The Fancy Feast Elegant Medleys sell out quickly at the pet store. Customers are drawn to the names of the food. I have caught myself perusing the names of the food and trying to determine which one to buy…and realizing I’m buying what appeals to me, not to my cats.
But the fact is, customers are drawn to the food with the fancy name in its distinct green labeled can. References (2008, February 27). Dallas News Life/Travel Pets. Retrieved February 22, 2009, from Study finds health benefits to owning cats Web site: http://www. dallasnews. com/sharedcontent/dws/fea/pets/stories/022208dnlivcats. 23b81fd. html (2009). cat-lovers-gifts-guide. Retrieved February 22, 2009, from Cat quotes – famous quotes, funny quotes Web site: http://www. cat-lovers-gifts-guide. com/cat-quotes. html (2009, February 5). U. S.
Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine. Retrieved February 22, 2009, from Pet Foods Web site: http://www. fda. gov/cvm/petfoods. htm (2008, March 17). The humane society of the United States. Retrieved February 22, 2009, from U. S. Pet Ownership Statistics Web site: http://www. hsus. org/pets/issues_affecting_our_pets/pet_overpopulation_and_ownership_statistics/us_pet_ownership_statistics. html (n. d. ). Pet Food Manufacturer: Ralston Purina Pet Food Company. Retrieved February 22, 2009, from History/Timeline of Ralston Purina Company Web site: http://www. urina. com/company/History. aspx (n. d. ). Purina Fancy Feast Gourmet Cat Food. Retrieved February 22, 2009, from Fancy Feasts Elegant Medleys Web site: http://www. fancyfeast. com/elegant-medleys/ (n. d. ). Purina Fancy Feast Gourmet Cat Food. Retrieved February 22, 2009, from Confessions of love: true tales of feline devotion Web site: http://www. fancyfeast. com/confessions/#/1917 (n. d. ). Zadzadz. Retrieved February 22, 2009, from Fancy Feast Elegant Medleys Chefs Commercial Web site: http://www. zadzadz. com/Fancy-Feast-Elegant-Medleys-Chefs-commercial