How Design Thinking Revolutionizing the Pet Food Industry: Real-world Examples and Statistical Insights


The pet food industry is experiencing a remarkable transformation as pet owners become increasingly conscious about the health and well-being of their furry companions. In this blog post, we will explore how design thinking, a human-centered problem-solving approach, is revolutionizing the pet food industry with real-world examples and statistical insights. By leveraging design thinking principles, pet food companies are not only meeting the nutritional demands of pets but also creating innovative and personalized products that cater to the specific needs and preferences of both pets and their owners.

Empathy: Understanding Pet Owners’ Needs

To truly understand the needs and desires of pet owners, design thinking starts with empathy. Pet food companies are actively engaging with pet owners through surveys, interviews, and direct observations to gain deep insights into their preferences and concerns. For example, Mars Petcare, one of the largest pet food companies globally, conducted extensive research to understand the dietary requirements of cats. This empathetic approach helped them identify a gap in the market for high-protein, grain-free cat food, leading to the launch of their popular brand, Nutro Wild Frontier.

Statistical Insight: According to a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, 44% of cat owners prefer grain-free diets for their pets, reflecting the growing demand for specialized and tailored nutrition options.

Define: Identifying Key Challenges

Once pet food companies have gathered insights, they define the problem statement by identifying the key challenges faced by pet owners. For instance, Purina, another leading pet food company, identified that pet owners struggle with portion control, leading to weight management issues in pets. To address this challenge, Purina introduced their innovative “Just Right” personalized pet food, allowing pet owners to create customized formulas based on their pet’s specific needs, including weight management.

Statistical Insight: According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese, highlighting the significance of personalized nutrition and portion control.

Ideate: Generating Innovative Solutions

Design thinking encourages the generation of creative ideas through collaborative brainstorming sessions. Pet food companies bring together diverse teams comprising nutritionists, veterinarians, food scientists, and designers to ideate innovative solutions. For example, The Honest Kitchen, a pioneer in dehydrated pet food, embraces design thinking to create nutritious and minimally processed pet food. Their innovative approach involves sourcing human-grade ingredients and dehydrating them to retain the nutritional value, resulting in a convenient and healthy alternative for pet owners.

Statistical Insight: The global market for dehydrated pet food is projected to reach $1.9 billion by 2026, reflecting the growing consumer preference for minimally processed and natural pet food options (Source: Research and Markets).

Prototype: Bringing Ideas to Life

Prototyping is a crucial step in design thinking, where ideas are transformed into tangible representations. Pet food companies create sample products, packaging designs, or even virtual experiences for testing and feedback. For instance, PetPlate, a subscription-based pet food company, utilizes design thinking principles to prototype and refine their meals. They collaborate with veterinary nutritionists to develop balanced and freshly cooked pet meals that are delivered directly to pet owners’ doorsteps.
Statistical Insight: The subscription-based pet food market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 23.5% from 2020 to 2027, indicating the increasing popularity of convenient and customized pet food options (Source: Grand View Research).

Test: Iterative Refinement

The final stage of design thinking involves testing the prototypes and gathering feedback from pet owners. This iterative process allows pet food companies to make necessary refinements and ensure their products align with customer preferences. For example, Ollie, a direct-to-consumer pet food company, embraces design thinking to continuously improve their recipes based on customer feedback, resulting in a personalized and nutritious meal plan for each pet.

Statistical Insight: According to a survey conducted by Packaged Facts, 82% of dog owners believe that the quality of their dog’s food directly impacts their health, highlighting the importance of refining pet food products to meet customer expectations.


Design thinking has become a game-changer in the pet food industry, enabling companies to develop innovative and personalized products that cater to the unique needs and preferences of pets and their owners. By empathizing with pet owners, identifying key challenges, generating creative ideas, prototyping tangible representations, and iterating based on feedback, pet food companies are at the forefront of providing nutritious and tailored solutions. The statistical insights highlight the growing demand for specialized pet food options, further emphasizing the significance of design thinking in driving the future of the pet food industry.

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