Millennials make up the largest segment of pet owners. According to Mintel, 75 percent of Americans in their 30s are dog owners, while 51 percent are cat owners, compared to 50 percent of the overall population with dogs, and 35 percent with cats.

All of this has big implications for the $26 billion U.S. pet food industry, which is expected to reach above $30 billion in 2020. Despite having lower disposable incomes than older generations, millennials are more likely to purchase high-end pet food. This trend appears to be an extension of the ways in which they’re becoming more health-conscious when choosing their own food. In order to meet this demand, pet food companies have tapped into the better-for-you claims trend with label attributes like “raw food,” “dairy/grain free,” and “vegan.” Specifically, in the U.S. nearly 53 percent of new pet food launches used natural and/or no additives/preservatives claims, driving forward interest in natural and organic formulas.

While it is important that brands continue to develop these products, brands must also understand how millennial shopping behaviors differ from that of other generations. Specifically, 90 percent of millennials are active on social media, and a third of those say it’s their preferred channel for communicating with businesses.

In order to sell to the millennial market, pet food companies have the opportunity to meet millennials where they already are – on social media platforms. As such, leading pet food brands have partnered with influencers on social media to deliver personalized, relevant experiences for consumers at every touchpoint, increasing brand trust and engagement among followers and accelerating their path-to-purchase.

Within the pet food industry, brands have turned to influencer-generated content (IGC) to expand their current digital offerings and showcase specific product attributes. Not only are pet influencers ten times more engaging than human influencers, but brands using pet influencers see an 89 percent increase in comments when compared to human influencers – highlighting the immense increase in engagement.

Of the leading pet brands on Instagram, we’ve analyzed which have the highest influencer-share of voice and have identified what you can learn from the influencer marketing strategies employed by business leaders in the space.

What We Learned From 3 Pet Brands on Instagram 

1) Chewy, @chewy

Pet Brand on Instagram, ChewyInfluencer Share of Voice: 45%

Influencer Marketing Best Practices:

  1. Chewy’s influencer program creates an engaged community around the brand and ensures a steady stream of authentic content through various influencer campaigns for a variety of products.
  2. Unlike its competitors, Chewy influencer-generated content rarely pictures pet owners and instead chooses to focus solely on the pets, positioning the animal as the primary beneficiary of the product.
  3. Chewy owns 51 percent of the online pet food market, including 40.5 percent in direct sales and 10.2 percent in subscription sales – the nearest competitor is Amazon who owns 35 percent of the market.

2) Petco, @petco

Pet Brand on Instagram, PetcoInfluencer Share of Voice: 21%

Influencer Marketing Best Practices:

  1. Petco sells and partners with a variety of pet care brands, using co-op dollars to fund marketing initiatives.
  2. In an effort to expand its digital offerings and engage their target audience, Petco rolled out their own social platform, Heads & Tails, a pet selfie app.
  3. Unlike Petco’s competitors who focus primarily on marketing dogs on owned media channels, Petco influencer-generated content incorporates a variety of animals, promoting inclusivity and appealing to a mass audience.

3) Purina, @purina

Pet Brand on Instagram, PurinaInfluencer Share of Voice: 14%

Influencer Marketing Best Practices:

  1. Purina influencer-generated content focuses on in-moment activation through photos and videos, depicting the active lifestyle their product enables the animals to live.
  2. Purina’s “Trust” campaign highlights the emotional connections owners feel with their pets to increase brand authenticity.
  3. Post captions from Purina’s “Check Your Pet Food” campaign highlights the product’s nutritional value and ingredient simplicity, appealing to modern day pet owner.

Want to learn more key insights? Download our latest Influencer Marketing Share of Voice Report to learn which pet food brands had the greatest influencer share of voice in the last year, as well as examples of strategy and best practices from category leaders.