Mars Petcare were faced with the challenge of driving growth by getting pet owners in developing markets to change behaviour and feed their pets manufactured pet food instead of human food.  Traditional messaging about how pet food is nutritionally better for pets had fallen on deaf ears, and Mars Petcare needed research into the cultural and emotional levers to drive a behaviour change campaign.

What we did:

We conducted filmed ethnography, supplemented by mobile diaries, exploring the social and cultural practices embedded in feeding routines and shopping behaviours, to look at what people do but don’t say, and uncover unconscious, daily cultural practices. This method was supported by cultural experts (academics) and expert interviews.

Key insight:

The findings from the research paint a picture that would surprise many western pet owners, particularly around the often generic claim that your dog is just like a ‘member of the family’. The research recognised, for example, the need for a product that held similar emotional appeal as meat, and a new potential feeding regime that could be mixed with rice. Mars were recommended to position the item in-store to capitalise on the best browsing location and the conveyed associations with freshness.


After implementing behavioural interventions resulting from the research, sales data over a three-month period showed sales increased by a staggering 34% against the control stores. When rolled out across Brazil, Mars are predicting this would lead to a rise in sales of circa 10 million US dollars in year one alone. The control trials suggest this simple intervention would completely exceed all ambitions for Brazil. The study has since been rolled out in six markets.


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