Across suburbs and cities pet ownership is on the rise. Experts estimate that upwards of 60%+ of US households have at least one pet. By 2020, the U.S. pet industry is expected to reach revenues of $96 billion.

If you are wondering about the trends fueling the growth of revenues for all things related to Fido, check out our high level summary below.

1. Humanization or “Pets are family”

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Less and less pet owners are acquiring pets for functional purposes (think of guard dogs and barn cats who control the mice population). According to a 2016 poll conducted by Fortune, 76% of pet owners think of their pets as family members. This means pet owners don’t want to meet their pet’s basic needs only, but they want their pets to have the best: organic food, natural care products, training, grooming, and medical services.

The humanization of pets equates to an explosion of products and services ready and willing to provide your four legged companion with experiences previously reserved for the two legged. Retailers are paying attention.

Casper dog

The director-to-consumer mattress brand Casper engineered a mattress “designed around dog behavior.” It comes in three sizes (small, medium, large) and three colors.

And because they are part of the family, it is not unusual to find Fluffy’s name alongside all the other family names on the holiday shopping list. Eighty percent of British pet owners include their pets in holiday gift giving. In a US survey of 1,000 pet owners, 95% disclosed they purchased gifts for their pets during the holidays.

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2. Millennials are choosing fur babies

Well, not quite, but the millennial tendency to delay marriage and children means many millennials have sought out furry friends for companionship. The trend toward shoppers preferring brands who promote transparency and sustainability influences how millennials shop for their pet’s food and care products. These young professionals are willing to spend more of their disposable income on naturally sourced, organic food and products.

CPG tip: If your brand has any of these characteristics (sustainable, organic, natural) be sure you let consumers know by advertising on your packaging! For instance, Burt’s Bees has extended their cleansing products to cats and dogs and are sure to highlight the use of oat flour, aloe vera, and honey.

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Consumers also care deeply about corporate responsibility. In 2014, 33% of consumers said they chose their pet retailers based on the brand’s involvement in pet rescue and welfare. In 2016 that percentage rose to 44%. Retailers like PetSmart raise their pet cause profile and drive store traffic by opening space for local rescue groups to adopt out dogs and cats.

3. Baby Boomers and Gen-X are filling that empty nest

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As their teenage children become more independent and move out of the family home, Gen-X and Baby Boomers are opting for animal companions. Seventy one percent of Gen-X has a pet. Though nearly every category of spending decreases after 55, spending on pets is spiking between the ages of 55 and 64. It doesn’t hurt that there is a copious amount of literature advocating for the health benefits seniors experience through pet ownership.

4. Pet owners are tech savvy

Pet owners are more likely to use technology and digital devices than non-pet owners. After all, how else can you update your pet’s Twitter or Instagram?

More importantly, 41% of consumers use the internet to research before they shop. To keep up, perseptive brands are finding ways to get consumers’ attention while they are in the “research phase.” Pet product CPGs, like Small Pet Select, are making the effort to meet consumers where it matters: online. Small Pet Select offers rabbit and guinea pig owners informative blog posts, like how to choose a vet, and YouTube product and grooming demonstrations to position themselves as a trusted expert while creating brand awareness.

small pet select

5. Brick and mortar matters

In the pet industry spending on food is the largest revenue segment. Online pet-supply retailers are quick to capitalize on the pet food segment. Still, veterinary care remains second in spending categories. Moreover, the tendency to treat pets a family has consumers seeking out new and better services. Specialty pet services like training, grooming, pet sitting, and pet friendly travel are expected to grow by as much as 7% in 2017.

Pet industry experts agree that the way to compete offline is to create great in-store experiences for your two and four legged consumers. Ensuring you have knowledgeable staff is one way support your customers and keep them coming back for advice and product recommendations. Be in your stores regularly to ensure that training is applied, shelves are full, and promotions are executed on time, every time.

6. Love for pets crosses borders and continents

The US is not alone in their love for four legged friends: the growth of the pet ownership and pet care revenues is a worldwide phenomenon. According to the Australian Veterinary Association, 62% of households have a pet. From 2013 – 2016, Australian spending on pet care products and services increased by 42%. More than 70 million European households have a pet, and the European pet food industry generates revenues of 24 billion euros. With the second largest pet population in the world, Brazil’s pet market generated $5.4 billion in revenue in 2015. Not to be left out, the pet industry in China (with 289 million pets) is forecasted to grow by more than half.

 

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