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THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

Pet Care Shopping is a Family Affair

10 May 2023

A report from the Global Pet Expo finds category shoppers looking for similar solutions for themselves and their pets.

By Shannon Cloversettle, The Mars Agency

As I walked the floor at this year’s Global Pet Expo in Orlando and experienced the obvious integration of pets into the family that’s taking shape, I realized that it’s a fascinating time to be in the pet industry. Pets truly are family!

Total spending on pet care has now reached $77.5 billion — a 13.4% jump vs 2021, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). In-store sales, which still account for 62% of all spending, rose 10.2% while online sales — which now command 38% of the total — increased 18.8%.

Long gone are the days of keeping your pet in the backyard and feeding “it” table scraps. Today, we’re taking our pets everywhere: hiking, to the beach, to the store, and even on vacation. Pet parents therefore are creating demand for pet accessories that are fun, comfortable and can be taken anywhere. Even the once-simple act of feeding has evolved into an experience as the relationship between pet and parent has deepened. Pet parents are seeking curated, personalized meals that will meet the unique needs of their own pets.

The following article looks at the key trends that continue to take shape across all categories of the pet industry, where brands that connect with pet parents by providing personalized solutions and creating experiences will win.

Personalization: The demand for personalization has fueled the growth of premium pet food as shoppers seek healthier food options that are convenient, curated, and crafted. The trend toward “human ingredients” tailored to meet one-on-one pet needs is driving growth in wet, frozen, and fresh food and driving greater demand for customized diets.

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Humanization: Pet parents consider their pets to be part of the family. This humanization trend has inspired a greater demand for high-quality, more natural food, to be sure, but also for better toys, treats, accessories, and services that emulate those available to humans.

Pet parents want to discover new and different products that will keep their pets active, healthy, and happy by meeting their unique needs. Brands are responding with innovation in snacks, accessories, toys, and healthier fresh and natural food offerings — with toppers, mixers, and enhancers growing in popularity. Treats, accessories, and healthcare solutions are also performing well.

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Functional & Natural: Clean ingredient lists that emphasize health benefits have become essential to the pet care market. Pet parents increasingly look for supplements that will help their pets with specific health conditions such as digestive, joint, dental, skin, and overall well-being. Oral care is a big part of this trend because it’s vital to overall pet health; a growing number of dental product options range from supplements and chews to brushes and wipes — the more convenient they are for pet parents, the better.

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Sustainability: As pet parents become more environmentally conscious overall, they’re increasingly seeking products they perceive as better not just for themselves and their pets, but for the planet, too. And it’s coming at a time when the world is experiencing shortages in the food supply and its citizens are becoming more concerned about ecology, animal welfare and their environmental impact. In food categories, this is reflected in in a move toward alternative proteins such as insect or plant-based options. Many other innovative brands are reducing the “carbon paw print” they leave behind, such as biodegradable dog toys made from recycled materials. Brands that embrace sustainable practices across production to packaging will stand a better chance of driving loyalty among pet parents.

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Omnichannel Shopping: There’s no doubt that pet parents have embraced the convenience of online shopping, which now represents nearly 40% of total pet care sales. In fact, 90% of pet parents have made some type of purchase online in the last year. Pet-themed subscription models continue to grow, and auto-ship and repeat orders are providing quick, convenient shopper options as well. We expect to continue seeing a blend of digital and physical shopping behaviors including BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store). This gives brands an opportunity to connect and prospect new customers across multiple channels.

All of these trends make it a truly exciting time to be in this industry. Pets are family, providing unconditional love that pet parents want to return by providing anything and everything necessary to keep them healthy and happy. Brands who want to capture some of that love for themselves must continue innovating to meet the evolving needs of both pet and parent.

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About the Author
Shannon Cloversettle is Director of Customer Development at The Mars Agency, where she devotes her time and applies her passion to the pet industry. She has more 25 years of sales and marketing experience.

Jaxson the Golden Retriever turned 6 years old in June.

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