Most likely, you have defined your competition; but let’s review a few points to ensure we are in agreement.
The real pet food category constitutes less than 3% of the annual national US pet food market. Less than 3% of $30 Billion – that means all of the Real Pet Food companies (those that manufacture cooked, frozen, freeze-dried, dehydrated and raw diets using ingredients that meet the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act definition of “food“) add up to $900 Million annual sales in the US marketplace. Some pet food giants gross $2 Billion annually. All of the real pet food companies combined gross less than the average giant. Therefore, who are your competitors? The thousands of other small and very small pet food companies trying to give the public a better product, or the pet food giants who own 97% of the marketplace?
An interesting note: the pet food giants work together. They are members of the same trade associations. They go to meetings together; in fact, they even host industry conferences together. Sure, they have some friendly rivalry, but they see their threat coming from the real pet food industry – the part that amounts to less than 3% of the marketplace. It must be the giants see real pet food as the threat, AKA their competition. Therefore, does it not behoove us, the real pet food companies and those who represent them (like Next Gen PFMA) to take the same perspective? The giants are the competition while fellow real pet food manufacturers are our allies. Let’s explore this radical concept a bit more.
An ally is: “a person or group that provides assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity, or struggle.” I contend all real pet food companies are allies as they all give support in the ongoing effort to educate the public regarding the benefits of real food ingredients.
Through identifying the competition, it’s possible to determine one’s allies, potentially even one’s comrades – as in the military definition of a “fellow soldier.” Any manufacturer of real pet food must march forward, educating each consumer on an individual basis, regarding the benefits of real pet food. Is this not your “front?” (Again, military reference to “line of battle” or “zone of conflict”.) In this case, our allies are truly other manufacturers of real pet food, as well as those who work toward the betterment of your work environment; afterall, each of us carries the banner for real pet food.
It’s a perspective shift. If one perceives fellow real pet food manufacturers as the competition one may see or become a liability to the others. (A liability is “one that acts as a disadvantage.”) Would it not be disadvantageous to the real pet food category if infighting leads to the demise of the entire category?
Instead, let’s discuss our assets. (Asset – in military usage, “something useful in an effort to foil or defeat an enemy”.) You are each an asset to the other – each customer who is educated about real food will continue to buy real food, even if not from your company. Your trade association, Next Gen PFMA, is also an asset, an ally, helping you move forward. We advocate for you through representation at regulatory meetings, with regulators in Washington DC, and soon, in congress. (Advocate – “one who defends or maintains a cause or proposal.”) Your customers are also your assets – they advocate for you first hand through testimonials. Testimonials and word of mouth are how we each grow our respective businesses.
Big pet food (the true competition) uses their assets to degrade the real pet food category. Once “They” figure out what shuts us down, others with deep pockets (whom our products are taking swipes at) will go to regulatory agencies with lopsided information and strong arm tactics to ensure our failure. Clearly, it makes sense for real pet food manufacturers to use their assets in a similar manner to garner territory from the competition.
Other real pet food companies are allies – if you haven’t already, now is the right time to consider joining together with one purpose – ensuring pets always have access to healthy, real pet food.
Thanks to Merriam-Webster for all definitions used above.