Mars — the company that makes M&Ms, Snickers, Skittles, and other popular candies — has big plans to sell more than just food during the next five years.
“The biggest transformation that we’re continually pondering is our portfolio transformation,” Mars chairman Stephen Badger told Business Insider.
The 106-year-old company has historically been known for making some of the most popular candies in the world, and for making common household food brands like Uncle Ben’s Rice.
But as Mars expands, it’s looking to not only add new products, but new services as well.
One area it has been heavily been investing in is pet-care.
Mars bought VCA Inc, which manages some 800 veterinary hospitals in the United States and Canada, for $9 billion last September.
Mars’ pet-care portfolio already includes Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners, which it acquired in 2015; Pet Partners, which it bought in 2016; and Banfield Pet Hospitals, which it purchased in 2007. The company also makes Iams, Nutro, Pedigree, Royal Canin, and Whiskas pet food.
“We used to be very much a pet-food company. Now we’re a pet-care company with businesses like VCA and Banfield, where we are actually doing day-to-day treatment of animals all the way through to quite serious diagnostics and surgeries and treatments of animals,” Badger said. “So I would say portfolio transformation is the issue at large, and it’s going to come to play in a variety of ways.”
Americans alone spent some $70 billion on pet products and services in 2017, according to the American Pet Products Association, so it’s easy to see why Mars sees a big opportunity in the space. In fact, Mars now makes most of its money from its pet-care business.
But the next five years won’t be all about adding new products and services. The company also has big plans to find new ways to tell consumers about its products.
“It’s incumbent upon us to perpetually think about the changing nature of consumers’ behaviors, not only in terms of what they want to buy, but where they want to buy it, and how they want to be told about it,” Badger said.
To do this, the company is working on a digital transformation that it hopes will better connect its products with people.
“In terms of digital, one of the biggest opportunities, and the thing that we’re most proud of in terms of what we have, is our brands. Our brands are known around the world, loved around the world, and used by people on a daily basis,” Badger said. “And the ability to actually engage in conversation with people is something that we’re really excited about. And I think that’s the next evolution in terms of what we’re trying to undertake and that really excites me.”