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7 Pet-Friendly Trends Taking Hold Across America

Mars Petcare released a new report.

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FRANKLIN, TN — Mars Petcare and its Better Cities for Pets program released their first annual report, demonstrating how pet ownership is shaping communities. From housing and business policy to overarching economic health, pets “are making a profound impact on our lives and thus the decisions to be more inclusive made by businesses, shelters and government,” according to a press release.

As part of the report, Mars Petcare has identified seven emerging trends in pet-friendly cities that are leading the way.

“We’re excited to share the inaugural BETTER CITIES FOR PETS Annual Report, which highlights the latest trends in pet-friendly cities and what citizens want to see in their own communities,” said Mark Johnson, president of Mars Petcare North America. “We created this report using data and insights from our collaboration with government officials and consumers across the country. We look forward to following the journey of these cities as they continue to make progress, and we hope that this report serves as inspiration for other communities looking to drive change and welcome pets.”

Here are the trends:

From “Pet-Friendly” to “Pet-Optimized” Pads: With the rise of people owning pets, rental property owners are increasing their pet-friendly amenities to offer more upscale, convenience-driven options.

Open for Business: Businesses are evolving their retail experiences and catering to pet owners by educating shoppers and offering new amenities like in-store pet-sitting and pet-friendly decals in their storefronts for easy navigation.

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Pets as a Work Perk: An increasing number of employers are welcoming four-legged friends into the workplace to maintain and attract new talent and increase productivity.

Beyond Doggy Bags: Unique dining options for pooches and their human parents are growing across the country as pets on patio legislation becomes more popular.

Bringing Zen to Shelters: Shelters are sprucing up their environments to attract more potential adoptive families and make pets feel more at ease in their temporary homes.

Reclaiming Public Space: From Parklets to “Barklets”: Cities everywhere are transforming parking lots, street corners and sidewalks to establish gathering spaces for people and pets alike.

Pet “Paw-litics”: An increasing number of political leaders are advocating for animal rights and pet welfare as more of their constituents demand change.

This year, Mars Petcare introduced the Better Cities for Pets certification to celebrate cities that have implemented pet-friendly programs and policies and committed to expanding their efforts to make people and pets welcome. To become certified, cities shared data on existing and future pet-friendly features related to the 12 traits of a pet-friendly city across the areas of businesses, parks, shelters and homes. Similarly, the company rolled out a consumer assessment, allowing citizens everywhere to offer input on the status of their city and what they’d like to see change.

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The Better Cities for Pets Annual Report leverages data and insights from certified pet-friendly cities, consumer assessments, a consumer survey and recent studies from the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition and Banfield Pet Hospital.

Key data points within the complete Annual Report include:

Ninety-two percent of Better Cities for Pets certified cities surveyed said they have local programs that distribute pet food for families in need.

Eighty-seven percent of employers say being dog-friendly helps them attract and retain more talent.

A majority of cities (60 percent) say they’re now taking pets into account when planning their green space.

Only 41% of cities said pets are welcome in most rental housing.

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Certified Cities:

To-date, 31 cities have received the Better Cities for Pets certification, including:

Arlington, TX
Bentonville, AR
Bloomington, IN
Calumet City, IL
Cleveland, OH
Dallas, TX
Downey, CA
Fort Wayne, IN
Franklin, TN
Gresham, OH
Hallandale Beach, FL
Henderson, NV
Houston, TX
Key West, FL
Laguna Niguel, CA
Meaford, Ontario, Canada
Memphis, TN
Miami, FL
Miami Lakes, FL
Nashville, TN
Oakland, CA
Plano, TX
Port St. Lucie, FL
Reno, NV
Rochester, MI
Royalton, MN
Santa Clarita, CA
Southport, NC
St. Petersburg, FL
Topeka, Kan.
Tucson, Ariz.

To view the full Better Cities for Pets Annual Report, visit http://bit.ly/BetterCities2019ReportPDF. For more information on the Better Cities for Pets program and how to become certified, visit BetterCitiesForPets.com.

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This webinar, held on November 7, 2019, is the second in a series from PSC discussing how retailers can establish sustainable practices in their business. Moderated by PSC’s Andrea Czobor, the webinar unveils data behind the increasing consumer demand for sustainable products, what retailers have to gain from connecting with these purpose driven consumers, and a new PSC program that makes finding these products easier for retailers.

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Veterinary Clinics and Retail Stores Unite to Combat E-Commerce Competition, Report Explains

Packaged Facts outlines the trend in a new publication.

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(PRESS RELEASE) ROCKVILLE, MD — Veterinary clinics continue to expand in retail stores nationwide, and market research firm Packaged Facts offers detail on the trend in a new report.

“Today’s pet industry is an ‘omnimarket’ where pet industry players aren’t simply competing across brick-and-mortar channels and the Internet,” says David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.

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Omnimarket describes a new era of multiple-front competition that simultaneously crosses former business operations borders between medical versus non-medical, products versus services, food versus non-food products and pet owner demographics. This notably includes veterinary expansion into retail stores.

The trend is described in a report called “Veterinary Services in the U.S.: Competing for the Pet Care Customer, 2nd Edition.”

The new era of multiple-front competition has been fueled by booming e-commerce in pet products, but just as importantly is being shaped by the competitive reactions of traditional pet product manufacturers and retailers. Pet superstores are responding to — and mass-market big boxes are exploiting — the internet’s erosion of the brick-and-mortar distinction between pet specialty and mass market by in turn collapsing the distinction between retail store and vet clinic/pet care salon. That’s specifically because hands-on pet care is the Achilles’ heel of the internet as a pet care provider and pet industry competitor.

Packaged Facts expects that hands-on pet care will remain the calling card of the veterinary sector, but that it will be selectively and progressively expanded in scope and supplemented by internet and digital technologies and communications, notes Sprinkle.

Among recent examples of the pet industry’s omnimarket shift:

  • Petco has added Thrive (in-store) and PetCoach (freestanding) clinics. It’s a strategy that echoes PetSmart’s longstanding affiliation with Banfield Pet Hospitals.
  • PetIQ is partnering with Walmart to open vet clinics in as many as 1,000 stores by the end of 2023, and subsequently is partnering with Meijer.
  • Tractor Supply Co. offers pop-up veterinary clinics at its locations.

Not only do these in-store clinics offer consumers increased access to veterinary care and pet medications, their presence promotes the overall concept of pet wellness, reminding pet owners of the importance of caring for their pets’ health and making it more convenient to do so. Even so, such expansion presents challenges to the business success of many traditional, independent vets and to the autonomy of the veterinarian profession by shifting the balance of power in favor of larger consumer market players and forces.

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Pet Health Insurance Firm Acquired

It has entered a deal with MetLife.

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Financial services firm MetLife Inc. plans to acquire PetFirst Healthcare LLC, a fast-growing pet health insurance administrator, the companies announced.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 2004, PetFirst administers insurance coverage on more than 40,000 pets. The company distributes its pet insurance products through animal welfare agencies, direct-to-consumer channels and employers.

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The acquisition will leverage MetLife’s position as a market leader in U.S. group benefits by enabling the company to offer a new benefit that is growing in popularity, according to a press release. Since 2014, the annual growth rate for the pet insurance industry has been more than 20 percent.

“Pet insurance has become an increasingly important voluntary benefit, and this transaction allows us to capitalize on this rapidly growing market opportunity,” said Ramy Tadros, president of U.S. business for MetLife. “Today’s employees have an increasing expectation of their employer to support their lives holistically, and offering pet insurance provides our customers’ employees additional support against unexpected out-of-pocket pet health expenses. PetFirst is a leading pet health insurance administrator and we look forward to welcoming the talented PetFirst team to the MetLife family.”

Following the acquisition, PetFirst will continue to market pet insurance through animal welfare societies and its direct-to-consumer channel. Beginning in the summer of 2020, MetLife will offer this pet insurance to employers through its group benefits distribution channel, reaching approximately 41 million employees and dependents across the U.S.

Katie Blakeley, CEO of PetFirst, said, “For more than 15 years, we have proudly focused on developing products and services to meet the growing and evolving needs of pet parents across the U.S. During this time, we have seen pet insurance continue to gain importance as a valuable product for families. With MetLife’s tremendous reach and resources, we see a strong opportunity to help more pet parents get access to pet insurance and alleviate the potential financial burden of a sick or injured pet.”

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020 subject to customary closing conditions and approvals.

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Here’s How Much People Plan to Spend on Their Pets This Holiday Season

SunTrust conducted a poll.

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ATLANTA — Pet owners are not holding back on holiday cheer for their furry friends, a new report has found.

Half of Americans are putting their pets on their gift list, planning to spend an average of $137 on four-legged family members this holiday season, according to the SunTrust (NYSE: STI) National Financial Confidence Poll.

“For many people, pets are members of the family, so it’s expected that we would want to include them in the holiday fun,” said Brian Nelson Ford, financial well-being executive at SunTrust. “Our studies show that the holiday season often comes with pressure to overspend. Gifts for pets, friends, neighbors and other obligations can add to the pressure when the spending is unplanned. It’s important to be upfront about what we care about, and build our holiday spending plan to enjoy the memory-making moments of the holidays.”

In the timeless debate of cats versus dogs, the survey finds that dog owners are significantly more likely to buy a gift for their furry friend (59%) compared to cat owners (34%). What are they giving? The most common selections are new treats and toys (65% and 61%, respectively), followed by holiday clothing (19%). Younger pet owners are significantly more likely to buy their pets a gift this season, leading with Gen Z (63%) and millennials (57%), followed by Gen X and Boomers (51% and 46%, respectively).

The SunTrust National Financial Confidence Poll is fielded quarterly and is representative of the U.S. adult population, with 2,500 participating Americans of different ages, incomes and geographic regions. Statistics referenced in this release are from the poll fielded in Q3 2019. The survey defines Gen Z as those born from 1997 on, millennials as those born between 1981 and 1997, Gen Xers as those born between 1965 and 1980, and Boomers as those born between 1946 and 1964.

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