They're definitely ready to coddle their pets.

Younger pet owners could set the pet industry on a "new course," according to market research firm Packaged Facts.

These pet owners, who have grown up in an increasingly health-conscious U.S., are more interested in “natural,” sustainably made food for their pets. And their influence on the marketplace will grow as they develop more buying power and baby boomers pass their peak purchasing years.

Millennial pet owners, defined as those between ages 18 and 34, "not only have pets of their own, they are ready to coddle them using the most sustainable (and sometimes economic) ways possible," according to Packaged Facts. About a third of U.S. pet owners are millennials, responsible for 43 percent of pet owner growth between 2007 and 2015.

Here are four important facts to know about this group:

  • More than half (55 percent) of millennial pet owners are willing to try holistic and natural-branded nutritional supplements before resorting to conventional pet medication. That's compared with only 30 percent of owners 35 and over. When the only option left is to buy conventional pet medication, however, more than half (52 percent) of millennials buy meds compared with only 28 percent of any other demographic.
  • Nearly three-quarters (69 percent) of millennial pet owners are more likely to consider foods whose recipes use naturally made ingredients over “normal,” mass-produced foods. That's compared with fewer than half (44 percent) of owners over 35.
  • Three-quarters (75 percent) of millennial dog owners agree that fear of pet food contamination or product safety is a key consideration in the foods they buy. That's compared with only 66 percent of their older counterparts. Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of millennial cat owners compared to just 49 percent of other owners are likely to feel the same way. Today, pet food companies are increasingly vigilant in their internal protocols for indentifying safety issues, and it’s not uncommon for companies to recall as much as a week’s worth of product when just one line of product is found to be contaminated, Packaged Facts notes.
  • Millennials are on the lookout for products whose labeling is transparent and green, and are most likely to use pet foods with formulations geared toward enhancing the health of their pets, including pet foods characterized as organic, holistic, non-GMO and grain-free.

Check out Packaged Facts' report Millennials as Pet Market Consumers for more information.

Read more at Packaged Facts