You know it’s bad when consumers cut back spending on Fluffy and Fido. In 2009, consumers shelled out fewer dollars for toys, collars and grooming products. After surging over 17.6% between 2005 and 2009, the growth rate last year slowed to 2.5%. Many industries would have been happy with a 2.5% growth rate in 2009 but pet supply vendors have long been accustomed to a rosier picture and they are also laying the groundwork to entice consumers to open their wallets again as the economy recovers.

Currently, 61 million households own 400 million pets ranging from cats and dogs to birds and frogs. Packaged Facts predicts that consumers will resume spending in this sector and projects that annual 5% growth rates will return within the next 4 to 5 years.

In the meantime, marketers are advised to use the following strategies to appeal to pet owners:

  • Practicality
  • Professionalism
  • Health
  • Safety
  • Convenience
  • Comfort

The health angle is expected to be particularly strong because Packaged Facts analysts see a continued “broad-based societal shift toward greater acceptance of ‘pets as family’”. This is especially true for the “premium demographics sector”.  As in many other industries, both retailers and manufacturers will be using more non-traditional media such as social networking to connect with consumers.

[Source: U.S. Pet Market Outlook, Packaged Facts, 3.1.2010]