Were you one of the many people who made a lifestyle change during the pandemic? Maybe you started a new hobby or workout regimen, or maybe you were one of the 23 million Americans who adopted a new pet. One in five Americans nationwide took in a new pet, according to The Washington Post. Do you fall into this category? If so, you helped change the way pet retail looks and will look for the foreseeable future. And if you are a retailer in the pet space—the outlook is good.
According to ZIPPA, the pet industry is booming. The U.S. pet industry expenditure has more than doubled in the last 10 years and is projected to continue that growth. Here are some staggering stats:
- 70% of U.S. households own at least one pet, 32% of them being Millennials, followed by Baby Boomers (27%).
- During the pandemic, the global pet industry saw spending growth of about 28%.
- Owners are spending an average of $1,332 a year, which adds up to $13,000 over the average lifespan of a dog or cat.
- The pet industry is worth $76.8 billion and is projected to reach $325.74 billion by 2028.
Shifting From Children to Pets
With pet ownership at record levels, owners are increasingly treating their pets more like a part of the family—and they want to be the best pet parents they can be. In an article from The New York Times, Andrea Laurent-Simpson a sociology research assistant professor at Southern Methodist University and author of the book Just Like Family: How Companion Animals Joined the Household, states that Baby Boomers have evolved into thinking of their pets as family members, especially as the cohort has become empty nesters. Many in the younger generations are fully leaning into the idea of dogs as children, with more Millennials postponing pregnancy and Gen Zers passing on having kids altogether. In fact, in a 2022 Consumer Affairs survey of 1,000 pet owners, “58% of Millennials said they’d prefer to have pets over human children.”
The consumer mind shift from pet owners to pet parents has brought many new opportunities to the pet retail market. With pet parents willing to spend big on a nice life for their pup, the pet housing market is hot.
Pimp My Pet’s Crib
As consumers spend more time at home, the aesthetics of pet gear can no longer be an afterthought. Owners are making sure their pets live just as high quality (and stylish) life as they do. From custom playhouses, dog showers, built-in litter boxes, and crates, to personal watering stations, there are endless designs pet owners are incorporating into their homes. One pet owner building a new home in Tulsa, Okla. requested a dog kennel-like structure off the main bedroom. “The kennel has a dog door that opens from the outside and leads directly to the dog shower, as well as built-in crates and their own refrigerator and dedicated freezer drawers for their raw food.”
With a lot of pet owners still working remotely, brands like PetFitness are seeing success. In January 2022 they released a dog-focused exercise plan. The online library of 50+ workout videos (created with consultation from vets and dog trainers) is designed to build strength, endurance, flexibility and balance.
Another company, Get Joy, announced in 2022 the establishment of the first-ever dog park in the virtual world of Decentraland. “Get Joy aims to increase dog joy through three things: nutrition, the cornerstone of what we do; educating pet parents on how to be the best dog parents they can be; and now, expanding our commitment to establish and improve the places dogs can go,” said Get Joy Founder and CEO, Tom Arrix. “We are turning to the metaverse to dramatize the fact that in most real-life communities, there is an imbalance between the size of the dog community and the available recreational space for those animals.”
Back To Work
For Americans on the go or returning to the office, some of those household amenities might not seem appealing. But services like “doggie daycare,” pet healthcare insurance, and even pet-friendly restaurants and workplaces take priority for those pet parents. Many pets and their people have had to adjust to returning to the workplace, and it’s not easy for either party. Over half (57%) of American pet owners said they would be happiest returning to their workplace if they could bring their pets with them according to a recent Stylus report.
Many owners say they are concerned about the separation anxiety their furry friends may experience as they leave them for more extended periods of time. Doggie daycare may be reasonable for some pet owners with costs averaging round $30-$35 per day, while others want the flexibility to work part-time or bring their pets to work with them. A study by LiveCareer found :
- 52% of respondents said that pet-friendly benefits and policies are important when considering an employer.
- 49% said that a pet-friendly work environment could convince them to take a job offer.
- 52% felt more supportive of pets in the workplace due to the pandemic.
Although bringing pets into the office has some negative sides such as allergies, accidents, and distractions, there are some studies that show pets help reduce stress, enhance physical health, and enhance one’s ability to think, plan and concentrate. Some large companies welcome dogs to the office, including Amazon, Google, Petco, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Procore Technologies, Cliff Bar & Company, Airbnb, and Kurgo.
From Pet Owner to Pet Parent
As people continue to adopt pets, they will continue to spend plenty of money on them. From cuddles to playtime, pets can contribute to your quality of life— so it only makes sense that pet owners choose to contribute to theirs in return. Not every pet owner will be purchasing items like designer dog clothes, human-grade dog food, or vegan luxury dog beds. But the shift in mindset from pet owner to pet parent means today’s pets have it good—and the brands creating the plethora of products for them have it even better.