Investments
Published:
October 5, 2021

Different Dog Joins Charlie Oscar | Changing Dogs Lives With Human-Grade Food

Jodie Miller
Investor
Shope Delano
VP Marketing

Brand No.1 (and their furry friends) have officially landed at Charlie Oscar HQ.

Different Dog is a pet food brand that’s reimagining pet nutrition. Armed with a team of chefs, vets, and nutritionists, they hand-cook human-grade food for dogs of all sizes using locally-sourced British ingredients, and deliver them direct-to-consumer (in compostable tubs).

Spurred on by a mission to change dogs' lives, husband-and-wife duo Charlie and Alex Thurstan have built a brilliant, customer-centric operation, and it’s an honour to invest in them, and join them on their journey to scale.

We’ve spent the past few months working closely with the Different Dog team, and integrating our proprietary data science platform to accelerate their next chapter. It’s been eye-opening to discover the transformational impact that the right nutrition can have on the health of our furry friends - despite the majority of the UK's 12 million dogs being fed heavily processed food that is shaving years off their lives.

Different Dog is a one-of-a-kind brand and business, bolstered by a fanatical community, brilliant retention rates, and a commercial team of genuine dog lovers. Here’s the art, science and culture of why we think Different Dog will be the UK’s next breakout brand.


The Art: Evangelical customers served by an evangelical team

In a previous life, Charlie used to work in the pet food industry, and the ‘aha’ moment came when he got to look around factories where processed pet food was made. What he saw convinced him, Alex, and their little dog Crumble, to do everything differently.

From that point on, they set their mission - to change dogs' lives with real food - and began to revolutionise the way dog food is made.

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Changing dogs' lives with real food.

The Science: The growth is in digitally native, premium brands

The UK has over 17 million pet-owning homes, and Gen-Z and Millennials are the main drivers of this growth, with over half of new owners being aged 16 to 34. The total UK dog food market is now valued at £1.8 billion and is forecast to grow 4% p.a. by 2025. 

However, the highest growth is in the premium sector, currently valued at c.£500 million and is forecast to grow over 7% p.a. by 2025. What’s more, the growth of e-commerce and subscription models is at an all time high within pet food. Online sales of pet food accelerated during the pandemic and now account for c.16% of the total market.

As a premium, digital-native player, Different Dog is well on their way to becoming a category leader. 

Our data science lab, led by Dan, has already begun working closely with the marketing, technology and leadership teams at Different Dog. We’ve onboarded our proprietary data platform into the business, embedded specialist data science resource, and continue to take a data-driven approach in order to build a stronger customer experience for both new and existing Different Dog customers.

The Culture: Our dogs are cherished parts of our families, so it’s time their food reflected that

We treat our pets like humans, seeing them as an extension of our families, with emotions and distinct personalities to boot. 7 in 10 pet owners call themselves “pet mums” or “dads'', and there is a growing community of owners who favour dogs that weigh 10 kg or less (around half of the UK dog population).

The humanisation of our furry friends and the trend towards smaller pets will continue to support premiumisation within pet food. 

We’ve also begun to see the migration of human dietary trends into the pet sector. You’ve probably seen more pet food brands advertising “clean label”, “grain free” and “plant based” diets. This is also driven by the trends towards smaller pets as they typically have longer life expectancies, thus spending longer periods of time in a “senior” stage. Pet owners therefore, are not only opting for healthier food, but are searching for products that address specific health needs (e.g. arthritis or pancreatitis). 

To Charlie, Alex, and the wider Different Dog team, it’s a pleasure working with you every day and we’re excited to be working towards the mission - of changing dogs' lives - with you all.

Jodie Miller
Investor
Shope Delano
VP Marketing
charlie oscar