How to Conduct Market Research with Pet Owners

It should come as no surprise that people love their pets and treat them like family. Today, 67% of U.S. households have a pet with 60.2 million families owning a dog and 47.1 million families owning a cat.

As more and more people welcome a furry friend to their family, pet owners are becoming more conscious of the food and treats they are purchasing.

For example, a recent study by NBCI showed that most pet owners reported giving equal (53%) or more priority (44%) to buying healthy food for their pets compared with themselves.

With this growing trend, many brands are looking to conduct market research with pet owners. It is a data-driven approach to collecting feedback about buying behaviors, preferences, brand awareness, and more. 

Learn how your pet product brand can accomplish this same goal by reading a real-world example of a market research study our team conducted with dog owners.

How to Conduct Market Research with Pet Owners


Challenges of the Dog Food Brand

Anyone who is a dog owner will tell you that their pet is just as much a part of their family as a child or sibling.

For this reason, higher-quality dog food products are in greater demand. Now more than ever, pet owners are looking for healthier food options to assure their dog will remain in good health for years to come.

Understanding this growing trend, a dog food brand wanted to gather in-depth feedback from select consumers to learn more about what exactly they look for in pet food products such as treats, kibble, and more.


Solution: In-Depth Interviews with Pet Owners

There are various types of market research available for companies working in the pet food and supplies industry. Common examples include online surveys, focus groups, and ad concept testing.

However, based on the client’s need for in-depth feedback, our market research company recommended conducting in-depth interviews (IDIs) with pet owners.

IDIs allow for two-way communication where critical questions are answered with much more detailed responses than quantitative methods.

Trying to decide between qualitative or quantitative methodologies? Read our blog post Choosing a Methodology: Explore or Measure?


Approach: Finding Dog Owners to Participate in Market Research

Upon receiving a signed proposal, our market research firm hosted a brief kick-off meeting with stakeholders of the dog food brand. During this introductory call, we focused on learning about the type of pet owner the client was most interested in interviewing.

Requested criteria for recruited pet owners included:

  • Consumer recruits will include 6-8 Millennial/Gen Z and mix of kids/no kids.
  • Mix of dog ages and, sizes, single and multiple dogs, and treats purchase P3M.
  • Must buy treats and give treats to their dog regularly.
  • Recruits must be primary or shared decision-makers for buying pets/products.
  • Recruits must have purchased treats or long-lasting chews P3M.
  • Retailers shopped (Primary: Target & Walmart, Others: Meijer & Dollar General.)
  • Mix of Canine Carry Outs, Milk-Bone, Pup-Peroni, and Rachel Ray Nutrish.
  • Mix of 6 self-identified consumer segments (maximum of 1-2 for segment A).
  • An overall IR of 7% or higher was expected for this study.

With this information, the Drive Research team created an online screener survey that would assist in sourcing sample for the interviews.

The recruitment screener included questions such as:

  • What pets do you have in your home? Select all that apply.
  • Who is the person responsible for buying things for your pets in your household?
  • How many dogs do you have?
  • What are the ages of your dogs? Select all that apply.
    What are the sizes of your dogs? Select all that apply.
    What types of products have you bought for your dog(s) in the last 3 months? Select all that apply
  • Which of the following retailers do you shop most often for your dog’s FOOD?
  • Which of the following retailers do you shop most often for your dog’s TREATS?
    What types of treats have you bought for your dog(s) in the last 3 months? Select all that apply.

Our qualitative recruiting company used paid social media ads to garner interest for the market research study. The ads encouraged pet owners to complete the screener survey to qualify for a paid in-depth interview.

The paid Facebook ad allowed our team to collect a pre-screened contact list of potential candidates. Of those who were deemed qualified received a follow-up re-screening phone call to ask additional qualifying questions.

Selected dog owners were chosen to move forward in the process and were scheduled for the IDI.

Learn more about our social media recruitment process through the flow chart below. Or read our Ultimate Guide to Using Social Media to Find Market Research Participants.

social media recruiting flow chart with drive research


Results of the Pet Owner IDIs

The feedback and insights gathered from recruited pet owners remain confidential with the dog food brand.

Drive Research met the client’s objectives and stayed within their budget.  

Details of the pet owner in-depth interviews:

  • The interviews took place on August 31 and September 1 and 2.
  • The IDIs lasted 60-minutes starting at 11:30 a.m. and ending at 6:00 p.m. each day.
  • A total of 17 pet owners were recruited to deliver 12-15 interviews.
  • Recruited dog owners were paid a $150 gift card by the client after each interview.

As a result of the market research with pet owners, the dog brand will use their feedback to create data-driven marketing campaigns and sales strategies. Doing so gives the dog brand a greater chance of seeing a high return on investment.


Contact Drive Research to Conduct Market Research with Pet Owners

Interested in conducting an online survey, focus group, in-depth interview, or other types of market research with pet owners? Drive Research can help. Our full-service market research company partners with brands across the country to provide end-to-end project management of various research studies. 

To learn more about our services or to receive a project quote, contact our team today.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at info@driveresearch.com
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily carroll about the author

Emily Carroll

A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Marketing Manager. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

Learn more about Emily, here.


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