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10 Highly Revealing Facts About the US Pet Industry

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The pet parenting boom shows no signs of stopping.

Americans love their pets — but you already knew that.

A recent report from Acosta, a sales and marketing agency in the consumer packaged goods industry, provides some data on just how big the “pet parenting boom” is, both economically and culturally.

Nearly 80 million households in the U.S. own a pet, representing 60 percent of the entire population, the report explains. All in all, pets make up a nearly $30 billion business.

“The pet category is an important one, as its total sales surpass popular categories such as dairy and candy,” said Colin Stewart, senior vice president at Acosta. “Fortunately for brands and retailers, the two largest generations — baby boomers and millennials — also represent the two biggest age groups for pet ownership, which means we can expect continued growth in this category, especially since millennials are just now entering their prime spending years.”

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Here are 10 important things to know about pets and their owners in the U.S.:

  • 94 percent of pet owners indicate their pets are part of the family, with 80 percent treating them like children.
  • 42 percent of pet owners allow their animals to sleep in their beds.
  • 94 percent of baby boomers talk to their pets daily, versus 64 percent of Gen Xers and only 47 percent of millennials.
  • 67 percent of millennials take photos of their pets regularly, and 63 percent upload the photos to social media.
  • 50 percent of pet owners include their pets in family holiday cards.
  • 46 percent of pet owners report they purchase products they think will provide a wellness benefit to their pets.
  • 36 percent of pet owners spend more than $500 annually on pet medical expenses and $200 per year on regular grooming.
  • 60 percent of millennials purchase nonessential pet items at least once a week, versus 28 percent of Gen Xers and 8 percent of Boomers.
  • 60 percent of pet owners report celebrating their pets’ birthdays in some fashion, which for more than half of Millennial and 40 percent of Gen X pet owners means giving their animals birthday gifts.
  • The top three drivers for pet owners’ retailer selection included price, variety of products and convenience.

“Pet owners shop for their animals much in the same way they shop for themselves,” Stewart said. “Retailers can apply key best practices in grocery to the retail pet channel as well, including appealing to millennials, emphasizing health and wellness, and improving convenience to increase shopper loyalty.”

Read the full report

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Pet Food Sales on Amazon Hit $1B

Blue Buffalo was the top-selling brand.

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BOSTON — Pet food sales on Amazon.com reached an estimated $1 billion in 2018, up 20 percent compared to 2017, according to data from Edge by Ascential.

According to the firm, the top five pet food brands (and their share of total pet food sales) on Amazon for 2018 were:

  1. Blue Buffalo (11%)
  2. Purina (9%)
  3. Hill’s (8%)
  4. Wellness (6%)
  5. Greenies (5%)

“Blue Buffalo’s continued top-selling status illustrates how important it is for brands to incorporate in their packaging what consumers are looking for: healthier pet foods,” said Pete Andrews, director of insights at Edge by Ascential. “Blue Buffalo’s top seller contains the keywords ‘Protection Formula’ and ‘Natural’ in the title.

“The brand includes in-depth content on their product detail pages along with complete ingredient lists, nutritional information, numerous customer reviews and peer-answered questions. The Blue Buffalo brand understands how important community is to the pet owner, whether they are shopping online or in-store. By encouraging consumer interaction on Amazon, brands can recreate some of the interactivity that pet owners value from brick-and-mortar stores.”

Other top-performing brands on Amazon in 2018 like No. 2 Purina (up 13 percent year-over-year), No. 10 Rachael Ray (up 27 percent) and No. 6 Fancy Feast (up 17 percent) demonstrate that pet owners are choosing brands with “the right combination of pet nutrition and shopper value,” according to Edge by Ascential.

“Amazon’s own label Wag, launched halfway through 2018, brought in almost $2 million in sales in 2018, a negligible share in the current Pet Food category,” Andrews said. “Not long after its Wag launch, Amazon began offering its dry dog food under the Solimo private brand as well. Much of the on-page content is nearly identical but Solimo actually offers more A+ content and a cheaper equivalent to Wag.

“Whether this is an A/B test on Amazon’s part to identify the effects of small product differences on sales or a transition away from Wag is yet to be determined – but it does suggest that Amazon is not yet ready to challenge major pet food brands head-on while they still gather experimental data.”

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Demand for Sustainable Pet Products Is Up, and Most Firms Aren’t Prepared, Report Finds

225+ responses were collected from pet industry professionals.

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The World Pet Association and the Pet Sustainability Coalition have released a report focusing on sustainability in the pet sector, highlighting advancing business opportunities for environmentally and socially friendly pet product companies.

The report, analyzing over 225 responses from pet industry professionals, reveals a dramatic increase in demand for sustainable products, explores where companies are encountering roadblocks to successful sustainability programs, and examines what tools and resources are available within the industry.

Expectations are increasing, and fast

The data shows a dramatic increase in pressure on businesses to expand their responsibility strictly from shareholder value to now include demonstrating responsible treatment of communities and environments where they do business. The expansion in business accountability means that brands are held accountable not just for their own direct business practices, but also the practices of their tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 suppliers.

Current sustainability programs are ineffective

Only 23 percent of pet industry professionals rank their own sustainability program as effective, and 26 percent report that they have no sustainability program at all.

Support is needed to create success

This increase in accountability for businesses is fueling a need for more education to inform the industry about what is expected of them and where their current performance is, tools to ease implementation and collaborative opportunities particularly for small businesses that need more leverage to drive systematic improvement in areas that are too large for one company to change on its own.

Download the full report here: https://mailchi.mp/petsustainability.org/industryreport2019

PSC was founded in 2013 with the mission to advance business through environmental and social business practices.

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45-Store Pet Chain Acquired

Its 494 employees will be retained.

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Independent Pet Partners has acquired Chuck & Don’s, a pet supplies chain with 45 locations spread across four states, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

New York-based Independent Pet Partners plans to retain Chuck & Don’s 494 workers, according to the Business Journal.

Jeff David, CEO of Independent Pet Partners, was quoted saying the acquisition “gives IPP a valuable and strong brand that can help us continue to strive to make pet parenting simple, smart, social and fun.”

Founded in 1990, Chuck & Don’s has locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas and Colorado.

Its 2016 sales totaled nearly $68 million.

With this deal, Independent Pet Partners, which has purchased several pet chains, now has 160 stores across 12 states and Washington, D.C., the Business Journal reports.

Read more at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

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