Understanding the language of animals

How market research helped bringing marketing into direct contact with cat and dog owners.

By Happy Thinking People, an international marketing and research consultancy for Mars Petcare.


Understanding of customers’ needs

The consumer is king at Mars Petcare, but what does the king or queen think, feel, do, say? What is the correct way to talk to them? If the king and queen have pets, how do they relate to their pets? Are the pets the actual power behind the throne? And how can Consumer Market Insights at Mars ensure that the voices of these “royal” pet owners are heard broadly across the organisation?


Experiental ethnographies

Happy Thinking People (HTP), regularly executes experiential ethnographies with Mars Petcare staff, bringing marketing into direct contact with cat and dog owners. The methodology entails a 2-day consumer immersion starting with a half-day training introduction to ethnographic research methods. Clients then go into the homes of pre-recruited cat and dog owners, accompanied by an HTP researcher to get to know their end-users (cats, dogs) better in their own environments. The sessions are aimed to be minimally intrusive, lasting 2 – 3 hours. After the consumer immersion (4 x 2h interviews per team), there is download session where all stakeholder and newbies exchange experiences and brainstorm on findings gathered during their interviews!

So what?

Multiple benefits – insights and product innovation

The benefits are multiple for Mars Petcare – this is how they described it:

Bring it to life: “Some insights one already knows were confirmed and this process helps you to better understand the insights than by just reading the data in a report.”

Challenging assumptions: “It shows that there are also contradictions in what respondents say and their actual behavior!”

Surprises: “Consumers don’t care or notice marketing or communication activities as much as previously thought.”

Eye opening insights: “If you try to be like white paper from the beginning you can learn so much as consumer thinking and behavior is so much different

Engaging, MR can be fun: “A very insightful and enjoyable experience to meet respondents and their pets at their homes.”

Inspirational: “Some of the interviews made me think of new product innovations!”