Pedigree: Internal Disruption Drives External Success

Updated: Sep 25, 2019

When you think of dog food, Pedigree most likely jumps to mind. And, for good reason. With more than a billion dollars in sales every year, Pedigree has established itself as a disruptive leader in the world of dog recues, shelters and the overall dog food market. But it almost lost its prominence in the dog-eat-dog category of pet food.


Uber, Amazon, Bird – we all know the story of a challenger brand who appears to come out of nowhere to disrupt a category and change everything. But, what about the established players in those categories? How can they respond to disruption?


To survive, they are well advised to embrace it. Or, risk becoming obsolete.

When I worked with Pedigree, the dog food category faced a major disruption. Small “craft dog food” brands popped up everywhere. They commanded a premium price and commandeered a disproportionate amount of prized shelf space and retail promotions. They started to redefine the category by actively denigrating the leading brands, like Pedigree -- “made with fillers.” They created entirely new premium, organic, and local segments.


They started stealing market share, as they elevated dogs to family members, worthy of only the very best food at any price --”Isn’t your dog worth it?”

What is an established brand with broad brand awareness and deep perceived perceptions as “pet feed” to do?


Pedigree had always thought of itself as “a brand that made pet food, so of course, we care about pets.” That strategy led us to put the product first, and pets second. It drove all of our formulaic branding, from the packaging to the advertising, from events to philanthropy. Everything was in service of the product and sales. Pets were an afterthought. While that worked in the past, Pedigree was now in trouble. The brand felt dated and out of touch. Sales plateaued and started to decline, as consumers moved to brands that “get it.”


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By Chad J. Kawalec

CEO & Founder | Brand Identity Center | 420BIC

Disruptive marketing leader with an approach that produces content that people notice, engage with and share and that ultimately persuades them to buy.

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