The Hottest Pet Parent & Pet Industry Trends from 2017 with a Sneak Peek at 2018

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From the 35.9 million #pets on Insta to the ever-growing popularity of Grumpy cat (since 2012, can you believe it?!) to essential oil-infused pet toys, 2017 showed the world just how much pet parents love their kids . . . erm, pets. With a little ingenuity and a lot of diligence, pet businesses provided revolutionary products and services to these parents and their pets all throughout the year.

Let’s take a look at some highlights from the industry in 2017 and see what 2018 may have in store.

They Are What They Eat.

Pet food sales grew by nearly 6% and are projected to increase through 2022, according to Packaged Facts. But consumers aren’t willing to buy just any ol’ dog food.

With 35% of pet parents being Millennials, a number now surpassing any other demographic, the 18-35 year old parents are dominating demand and market focus. They are more conscientious about their choices—picking brands that align with their beliefs and lifestyles while filtering out those that seem disingenuous. “As the purchasing power of millennials expands, brands will need to give greater attention to carving out a corporate social responsibility platform that consumers can identify with,” the Founder of Toluna told AdWeek. And I couldn’t agree more. Younger generations don’t flock to the standard donation-based cause marketing approaches like their parents, instead needing to see a long-term commitment and alignment to social impact in the space –which spells quite the opportunity for socially responsible brands who haven’t gotten the message out about all they’re doing to their communities.

The majority of pet parents, a good 77% globally, consider their pet a member of the family. Trends show pet parents are generally standing behind ingredients they trust and brands with unique stories they can engage with. Furthermore, parents have placed much less an emphasis on cost. And according to Pet Business, nearly 45% of all new pet food products were grain free. “Made in the USA” was also an important consideration for millennial buyers.

In the end, 2017 demonstrated how much parents care for their pets, if it’s the best of the best, they’ll often fit it into their budget.

As for 2018, experts anticipate a growth in food sales, especially for in home-delivered pet food, sales of foods with preventative benefits, sales of foods micro-targeted at specific nutritional needs, and growth in homemade pet and supplemental foods—think organic, probiotics and superfoods.

Young, Relationship-Based Sales

Humanization, treating pets like people, drove consumers in 2017. With the two largest pet parenting groups being Baby Boomers and Millennials, these demographics sought after the top-notch and the market shows it. The APPA estimates that spending on pets capped at nearly $70 billion in 2017, up from 66.75 in 2016.

No longer are pets second-class citizens. In fact, the first generation to really bring pets inside the house – Boomers – still holds major financial sway in the pet industry as a whole. Only the highest quality foods, accessories and medical treatments are often sought. And with now-standard social media frenzy, these consumer products practically sold themselves, with younger pet parents displaying the newest toy, sweater or supplement on their personal social media accounts. Millennials are also open to splurging on pet products they would not necessarily get for themselves.

Having grown up alongside and often in the same bed with their pets, younger generations view their pets differently than generations before, seeing them as whole-hearted family members. Because of this, parents were willing to spend more for premium products.

Premium products and services, or “premiumization” skyrocketed, allowing smaller companies to take center stage in niche markets to provide organic treats, cutting-edge medical treatments and luxuries such as pet spas.

The market has opened for increased luxuries in 2018. Experts at Pet Age suggest potential markets for cat litter companies to develop doggy litter. Eg- cat-type litter, made specifically for small dogs in more urban environments, may gain popularity this year. Great news for super cold weather or long days home alone!

Preventative Healthcare and Expenses

Even with the more conscious pet parenting we’ve seen this year, two major takeaways from The American Animal Hospital Association’s journals in 2017 is pet obesity is still on the rise and growing number of cases of feline hyperthyroidism. It’s advised you understand these growing health trends, even if your business is not health-related, as clients may have questions regarding them.

As we’ve seen continuing over recent years, pet parents took it into their own hands to research their pet’s health online, leaving many veterinarians frustrated by the plethora of misinformation (alternative facts, anyone?) many parents came armed with at appointments. What-the-internet-said vs. what the medical professional said created some tension within the veterinarian-pet parent relationship. However, previous studies have shown that having veterinarian-suggested online resources can significantly cut down on trips to “Dr. Google,” creating a better experience for pet parent, practice and pet.

We’re Still Living and Shopping Online

An estimated U.S. pet industry sales of almost $70 billion is up almost $10 billion from 2015. Trend of people buying pet products online went up greatly, with Amazon being far the largest retailer, followed by PetSmart, Walmart, and Petco, respectively.

Consumers want ever more advanced pet tech, which is used to strengthen the relationship between pet and parent. GPS and webcam monitoring were two tech products used by many. Parents also want to exhibit their “pet lifestyle,” seeking out more choice for personalizing pet products. Sixty percent of Millennials purchased non-essential pet items at least once a week, and there was an increase in customer brand loyalty with pet care brands.

Experts believe pet industry revenue will continue to rise in 2018. Online pet sale growth is expected to continue, with industry forecasts pegging growth of online sales of pet products at 10%-15% annually, through 2018, outpacing overall retail sales growth in this category.

We’re a few weeks into 2018 and the future is all ready looking bright for businesses, parents and pets. With room for growth in the online sector as well as providing personalized products and better nutrition, businesses can surely write an authentic story with ingenious ways to serve more pets and the people who love them.

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