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APPA: 3 Trends That Will Continue to Shape the Pet Industry in 2022

Andrew Darmohraj of the American Pet Products Association shares the consumer behaviors retailers and brands alike should be paying attention to this year and into the future.

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THE PET INDUSTRY is booming, and it shows no signs of slowing down. According to APPA’s 2020 State of the Industry Report, the pet industry exceeded over $100 billion in sales for the first time and APPA projected continued strong sales in 2021, estimating that growth would approach 6%, bringing total industry sales to $109.6 billion by year-end. Data for the first half of 2021 indicated some categories outperformed even bullish estimates, with APPA’s 2021 State of the Industry report slated to launch in late March during Global Pet Expo 2022.

While it is exciting to look back on the pet industry’s success, we must also remain focused on the future. According to the 2021-2022 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 70% of U.S. households own some type of pet, up from 67% in the 2019-2020 Survey. Millennials were revealed to be the largest cohort of pet owners at 32%, followed closely by Boomers at 27% and Gen X at 24%. Dogs continue their run as the most popular type of pet, owned by 54% of U.S. households (cats are owned by 35% of households) — this equates to an estimated 69 million U.S. households that own a dog and an estimated 45.3 million U.S. households that own a cat.

Below are several trends taking shape that retailers, manufacturers and other pet industry stakeholders should consider as they look ahead:

Online, Pick-up and Delivery Reign Supreme

According to the 2021-2022 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, more and more pet owners are choosing to shop online. Respondents that report they shop online increased by almost 20%, from 72% in the prior year to 86% of respondents in this year’s study – and this trend is here to stay. Before the pandemic, 60% of pet owners usually purchased pet products in person at brick-and-mortar stores, but in-person shopping dropped to 41% during the pandemic. When asked how they anticipate their online shopping for pet products will change in the coming year, most pet owners said they felt their use of home delivery, pickup in-store and pickup curbside would remain the same or increase.

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While the pandemic certainly played a role in the shift to online and pick-up/delivery, generational habits are also a factor. As mentioned previously, Millennials are the largest cohort of pet owners at 32%, followed closely by Boomers at 27% and Generation X at 24%. Millennials report plans to increase their use of home delivery in the coming year more than any other generation, and they are the most likely to buy online using a subscription service. These trends are not surprising, given Millennials are a generation of digital natives.

What might have been optional in the past — an online presence — has become a necessity. Retailers should meet consumers in the channels they are frequenting — whether in store, online or on social media, among others — and make shopping trips to brick-and-mortar stores accessible and flexible with pick-up and curbside options to reach repeat and potential customers.

Premiumization Drives Products Offerings

Pet owners continue to demonstrate an unshakeable commitment to their pets, with premiumization and humanization trends driving consumer behavior. More and more owners are treating their pets as cherished family members, with many regularly taking their pets to the veterinarian and giving them vitamins/supplements to ensure their health and longevity. Dog owners, in particular, continue to invest in the premiumization trend: The percentage of dog owners purchasing premium dog food increased from 37% in 2018 to 41% in 2020. Millennials remain committed to trading up to more premium brands and price points, contributing to the positive growth seen mid-year and showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.

Brand Names Impact Purchasing Decisions

Between two-thirds and three-quarters of pet owners cite brand name as important on some level to their purchasing decision. More than half of pet owners consider themselves to be very brand loyal when purchasing pet care items. In addition, 51% of pet owners are willing to pay more for ethically sourced pet products and eco-friendly pet products.

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Andrew Darmohraj, CAE, is the executive vice president and COO of the American Pet Products Association (APPA). He has been with APPA since 1997. He oversees all aspects of APPA’s day-to-day operations including membership, accounting, and the marketing communications and public relations department, which promotes APPA’s mission, its members and the pet products industry.

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