Helping Blue Buffalo Roll with the Pooches

Dogs don’t do well in focus groups. They sniff, they bark, they whine, they lick. And when it comes to expressing their opinion, they’re always at a loss for words.

When Blue Buffalo needed to gauge the market potential of their new dog food rolls, they turned to 360 Market Reach (now Leger). And while we don’t know dog speak, we do know dog owners, thanks to our online K-9 Social Chat community.

Blue Buffalo is known for high-quality, healthy and natural foods that dogs love. But rolls were new territory for them, and they needed to understand how the new product form would be received among both dogs and dog parents.

Determining the success of a new dog food isn’t as simple as ringing the doggy dinner bell and seeing whether dogs eat the food. There are many human factors to consider—packaging, price, visual appeal, quality, aroma, and more. It’s equally important for dog owners to be receptive to the product as it is for dogs to find it appetizing. After all, dogs don’t do the shopping.

To find the answers that Blue Buffalo was seeking, we conducted in-home user testing among members of our K-9 Social Chat community. Participants received free samples of Blue Buffalo rolls and were asked to feed the product to their dogs over the course of two weeks and report their experiences.

We gathered many interesting insights from observing the behavior and usage of study participants, both human and canine. Some participants used the product as a food topper. Some fed it as a treat. Some sliced it, some crumbled it, and many chopped it into small pieces. And while overall opinions of product attributes were mixed among participants, one trend emerged: Dogs liked it.

Human participants, however, suggested a number of practical improvements that would make them more likely to purchase the product in the future, from packaging enhancements to texture changes to potentially pre-slicing or crumbling it into portions. Price was also a major consideration that influenced whether participants would be open to purchasing Blue Buffalo rolls.

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