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As eCommerce captures an increasing share of pet food sales, how should manufacturers be adjusting their marketing strategy?

Given our vast experience in the category and our long-standing relationship, our client, a leading pet food and treat manufacturer, approached us to help them better understand digital shopping behaviors in the pet food space with the goal of developing a more effective omnichannel marketing strategy and demonstrating thought-leadership with online retail partners.


Our client had recently conducted path to purchase research, but it focused on the brick and mortar experience, and they recognized a need for greater richness and context around the unique ecommerce shopping experience.

The team wanted to understand how to more effectively attract and convert online shoppers, but recognized that they lacked clarity on which page elements to focus on, how to prioritize their budget, and how to leverage the unique touchpoints and triggers of the digital shopping experience.


Our comprehensive research design delivered strategic areas of opportunity for their brand portfolios and etail partners, including…

  • A clear understanding of eComm shopper behaviors including key purchase triggers, mindsets, and missions along with opportunities to leverage and disrupt their activities in ways that favorably influence brand choice across various touchpoints (e.g., order history, shipments, etc.) 
  • A framework for understanding the online shopping process and prioritizing key elements - from category to product pages, search bars to filters – to optimize search terms, webpage real estate, tool offerings, visuals, product descriptions, etc.
  • Insight into shoppers’ carts and decision hierarchy including actionable disruptors and messaging opportunities to sway brand choice.
  • A visual depiction of the Etailer landscape, along with a clear understanding of shopper choice drivers, delights and frustrations - helping our client craft compelling sell-in stories and drive mutual business goals with etail partners.
  • Actionable guidance on optimizing the post-shop experience through a deeper understanding of fulfillment choice (click n collect vs. delivery, etc.), best-in-class service, and implications for packaging optimizations to drive brand loyalty.

C+R conducted a comprehensive, multi-phased exploration of the online shopper journey through a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods:

The initiative began with online qualitative research. We moderated a 3-week immersive discussion which included an online shopping journal that recorded their online shopping trips. Activities explored online shopping perceptions, etailers, behaviors, and pain points. Passive metering on their mobile devices collected behavioral data on their shopping frequency and habits (resources, search terms, sites visited, etc.) to ensure a comprehensive overview of their routine behaviors.

Then we shifted to Webcam Shopalongs to dig deeper into the themes and behavioral patterns observed in phase one. Participants were tasked to shop for a specific trip mission online as they normally would, and our attentive moderators were able to observe their navigation/decisions and probe the ‘whys’ behind their choices to better understand decision-making.

Next, we recruited some shoppers to a central location test where they conducted a shopping mission while In-Person Eye-tracking software was used to isolate eye-catching elements and blind spots as they shopped. 

Finally, we recruited a robust sample of online category shoppers (using Numerator) to participate in an Online Quantitative Survey. This allowed us to quantify key learnings and prioritize means to influence the ecommerce shopper. It also allowed us to marry survey data with omnichannel behavioral data from Numerator to mine an especially rich data set that went beyond self-reported data alone.

Throughout the process, we held weekly client check-ins by phone to maintain communication and discuss the latest learnings. As each phase was completed, we debriefed the team on key findings and implications for upcoming phases. Once all phases were complete, the learnings were synthesized and shared in the form of a single comprehensive report that seamlessly wove together qual and quant insights. Integrated video provided context and demonstrated typical path to purchase behaviors along with site elements that enhanced or disrupted their path along the way, making it easy for the team to socialize the findings.

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