Treating Pets as Family is Part of Long-​Term Societal Shift, Will Further Boost Pet Spending

In the New Normal of economic moderation, pet industry players must walk a line between promotional pricing and product premiumization, according to U.S. Pet Market Outlook 2012–2013, a just-​released report from market research firm Packaged Facts. 

Even while shoppers overall remain intently focused on value, the pet product shopper base has continued to migrate into the higher-​priced pet specialty channel, while supermarkets and discount stores have seen their pet product shopper base decline. Similarly, while store brands overall are more important than ever across the consumer packaged goods spectrum, pet food remains private-​label resistant, an outpost of shopper loyalty to national brands.

U.S. pet industry sales reached $56.67 billion in 2011, up from $54.56 billion in 2010. Although a modest 3.9% increase percentage-​wise, the 2011 figure represents $2.1 billion in additional market value. Natural, organic, and eco-​friendly products continue to advance, as do pet health products and services including medications, supplements, and insurance.

Dogs featured prominently in Super Bowl XLVI commercials for cars, beer, and chips, scoring an advertising trifecta–a sign of the times, according to Packaged Facts publisher David Sprinkle. Packaged Facts sees "pet parenting" and the ensconcement of pets as members of the family not just as a trend, but as a long-​term societal shift favoring even greater spending on the pet market in the years to come.

Packaged Facts' March 2012 Pet Owner Survey indicates that nearly nine out of ten pet owners agree with the statement "I consider my pet(s) to be part of the family," with 61% strongly agreeing and 28% somewhat agreeing, and that nearly two-​thirds view their pet as their best friend, are spending more time with their pet, and enjoy purchasing products that pamper their pets.

Pet owners therefore are highly receptive to products and services that replicate the ones they prize for themselves. Examples include veterinary procedures like chemotherapy, MRIs, and hip replacements; pet supplements featuring glucosamine or omega‑3; human-​grade pet foods containing superfruit or touted as gluten-​free; designer pet supplies such as Burberry apparel and Simmons Beautyrest pet beds; and services including luxury boarding options and even a pet-​specific airline, Pet Airways.

A concomitant trend is the increased market involvement of makers of human products–a trend Packaged Facts expects to gain much momentum in the years ahead–with brands including Bissell, Conair, Wahl, and Febreze making a strong showing at the 2012 Global Pet Expo.

Factor in industry efforts embodied in the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation (HABRI) to advance the understanding of the positive impact of pet ownership on human health, and the U.S. pet industry is positioning itself for a boom.

[Source:  "U.S. Pet Market Outlook 2012–2013."  Packaged Facts.  2 Apr. 2012.  Web.  4 Apr. 2012.]