The Top Pet Industry Trends for 2014

If you are in the pet industry; developing, innovating, creating, marketing and selling pet products and services, get ready for a sea change in our industry.

The future of the pet industry

The pet industry has been growing, surviving and thriving consistently over the past years and during the recent economic downturn, while other industries have faltered and suffered.

The pet industry, often called 'recession resistant', has thrived as baby boomers, the largest consumer group in history, have adopted pets and, for the first time, treated them as full-fledged members of the family.

With baby boomers aging and coming into their senior years, this potential market for the pet industry will begin to fade, creating a situation where the consistent growth of our industry will begin to level off in coming years.

As we wrote in our Top Pet Industry Trends for 2013 article, 'the coming years will see a shift in who purchases pet business products and services; moving from the present day (baby boomer) market of women, ages 25-55, to the upcoming market of women currently between the ages of 8-51. This next generation of purchasers of pet products and services include the 13th Generation or GenX, who are presently 31-51 years old, and the Millennial Generation or GenY who are presently 8-30 years old.'

We've already seen the beginning effects of the economy and the baby boomer generation pulling back in their adoptions of pets as outlined in the historical numbers of pets owned, according to the American Pet Products Association. From 2006-2011, 62-63% of US households owned pets with a decline in the categories of fish, reptiles, horses and birds, and fairly flat numbers in growth of the higher pet product and service purchasing categories of cats and dogs.

Add to that information shared by Pet Business Magazine in 2011 showing 'the average U.S. pet owner is 48 years old.' However the article goes on to state that the 'average pet-owner age reported in the 2009-2010 edition of the survey was 47 years old, and in 2003-2004 that age was 46,' showing that there is a decline in pet ownership among these younger generations.

In addition, the article states that in 'a study conducted by The Nielsen Company last year, pet-owning baby boomers significantly outspend pet owners categorized as Gen-Xers or Millennials. For example, baby boomers spent an average of 80 percent more on pet food than Millennials did in 2010 (38 percent more than Gen-X pet owners), and 22 percent more on pet care items (9 percent more than Gen-X pet owners).'

So you can see the pet industry has its hands full in the coming years to keep the industry on its continued growth path.

On the bright side, this past 2013-2014 APPA Pet Owners Survey indicated an uptick in pet ownership over the past seven or more years with 68% of US households owning a pet versus the previous years (2007-2011) average of 62%. Growth was specific in the areas of dogs and cats, and fairly flat in other categories of pets.

Competitive Influences

The landscape of competition has also changed over the past four to five years as nearly every industry, in addition to the pet industry, sees our market as a growth opportunity, and seeks to capitalize on that opportunity.

The pet industry has historically lagged behind other industries in the areas of consolidation, acquisitions, licensing, co-branding, partnerships, marketing, pricing, distribution and more. This year, however, we believe will be the continuation of the past couple of years in the transition and further alignment in how other industries have been operating for years.

The pet industry is now the 'wild west,' where anything goes and everyone is involved. The strongest, most well-funded, organized, branded and marketed will take the lead in many categories.

As the economy has begun to stabilize over the past couple of years, we've seen a boom of consolidation and acquisition within the pet industry, an increase in co-branding, private labeling, partnerships and licensing deals with high profile 'lifestyle' brands, as current pet business companies look to expand their markets to a broader audience, and as companies historically outside of the pet industry seek to capitalize on the pet industry growth opportunity and bring products and services to a broader market. In the coming years we will see more and more of these types of  'deals.'

Pet product, service and retail companies will continue to bring a broader range of products to their additional markets by 'partnering' with well established brands through licensing deals, co-branding, endorsements, partnerships and more. Examples of these over the past years include Martha Stewart, Toys'R'Us and National Geographic brand of pet products with Petsmart.

Well branded companies outside of the pet industry will continue to dive into the pet market, extending their product lines and bringing related and fitting pet products and services to a wider audience to capitalize on the success within the pet industry. Examples of these include Select Comfort's Sleep Number Pet Bed and the recent announcement by Body Glove International, a manufacturer of wet suits, clothing and other apparel geared toward active, outdoor and water enthusiasts, of their new line of pet products.

Additionally, pet product and service companies (and companies outside the pet industry, newly entering the market) will continue to leverage relationships with well-known pet industry figureheads and celebrities to get a 'leg up' in gaining awareness with the pet industry market through licensing deals, partnerships, endorsements and more. A couple of examples of these include: Quaker Pet Group's licensing deal with Duck Dynasty, and Grumpy Cat's deal with Accuy Natural Solutions.

Acquisitions within the pet industry will continue to grow as the economy seems to become more stable, and companies open up their deal making and funds.

It's going to get a lot tougher for individuals, small businesses, and those companies without proper funding to take that great idea, develop a prototype, manufacture a small amount of product, and bring it to market via the internet, and/or through grass roots marketing tactics, and be successful.

Going forward pet product and service companies will need a full range of opportunities to bring products and/or services to market to be successful, including developing full and well-rounded marketing and branding strategies and tactics to reach consumers, retailers, distributors, and wholesalers; expand into co-branding, co-marketing and licensing deals; and look to International markets to really be able to sustain the future of their pet business.

Challenges and World-wide Growth

As in past years, and increasingly in coming years, US pet related product providers will look toward International markets for growth and expansion opportunities, as these International markets pick up steam in pet industry growth occurring from increased pet ownership and spending, and as increased opportunities are made available. Countries showing significant opportunities include China, Japan, India, Brazil and Russia.

Legislative influences, pushed by caring consumers, will additionally present the pet product and service market with challenges. From the push to ban sales of pets in pet stores, the growing involvement of the FDA in regulating pet related foods/treats, and individual legislative actions by certain states to ban certain ingredients and GMO's in products, including those for pets.

Pet businesses who change with the times, and align their business, and the products and services they offer, with customer wants and needs, will be more successful in the long term and be better able to evolve and become leaders in their markets.

Specific trends and growth areas within the pet industry.

Quality, Healthy, Made in the US, Green, Eco-Friendly

Pet loving consumers have become more and more savvy over the past years as information is more readily available to them via the Internet. If pet related product and/or service companies aren't concentrating on bringing high quality, healthier, 'Made in the US', green, and eco-friendly products and services to market they will be missing out on one of the most growing product/service categories in our industry. Everything from pet food, treats, toys, gear, healthcare, grooming, day care and more will be under scrutiny by the pet loving consumers. The largest consumer group of pet purchasers, and those with the highest level of spending, will be concentrating on healthier, safer options for their pets.

Companies that continue to manufacture and sell lower quality pet foods, treats and other goods will have a hard time marketing to the pet lover that treats their pet as part of their family, and will have to expand their markets to target lower income and more uneducated prospective buyers; as well as other segments that historically haven't thought of their pets as much a part of the family.

Technology

Technology will increasingly paw its way into the lives of pets and pet lovers. As technology advances have occurred, and outside interests continually see the pet market as a viable and interesting new market, more and more products with and focused on technology will be made available in the coming years. And some big technology investment dollars are making their way into these new prospective tech/pet companies.

We will see more and more mobile device apps available, some good, some 'same old, same old.' Newer technology will makes its way into the pet market that will allow us to keep track of, monitor and interact with our pets in many more ways; including the monitoring of heart rates, activity tracking, respiratory rates, calorie expenditures and more. Wearable computing has arrived in the pet market and will bring the ability to share this valuable real-world information to healthcare and service providers.

Lifestyle

Savvy and high purchasing pet product consumers have long considered their pets as part of their family. This demographic will be seeking out more and more products and services that allow their pet to more actively participate in their entire lifestyle, be more 'pampered,' and enjoy life more fully and comfortably with their families. Hence, we will see a continued increase in products and services related to pet travel, hotel services, airline services; additional human-like pampering products and services; and comfort and living products such as health, rehabilitation and senior related lifestyle products, and consolidated services for both pet and pet parent at one single location.

Wellness and Healthcare

The health, wellness and care segment of the pet industry will continue to evolve. Over the years pet loving consumers have changed in the way they think about this area of their pet's life. They are more demanding, educated and opinionated in how they care for their pet throughout their life.

We will continue to see an increase in the types of health and wellness care availability for our pets. In addition, with the increase in healthcare costs, and the fact that pets are living longer lives, pet lovers will seek out more complete health and wellness care for their pets, including holistic approaches; and they will also increase their options for how to pay for these higher wellness and health care costs through insurance and alternative payment options. We fully expect pet healthcare insurance companies to this year begin bringing their level of insurance provisions more in line with human insurance practices including direct billing and self insurance options.

We'll also see increased services pertaining to the aging pet population including in-home hospice services and out-of-home senior care, as consumers look for services to care for their senior and ailing pets.

Foods and Treats

Foods and treats are the largest purchasing category for pet lovers. Again, as pet loving consumers become more and more educated, and as regulatory, manufacturing and sourcing ingredients problems continue to plague the pet food industry, these dog, cat, bird, small animal and reptile owners will seek out more whole, less processed, healthier, safer and made/sourced in the US foods and treats for their pets.

Trends we will continue to see in the pet food and treat category are grain-free, species appropriate, whole, less processed, healthy, safe, and USA sourced.

Toys for All

Toys, one of the largest segments of the pet lover purchasing pie, will continue to be a large focus for the pet lover. In the coming years, we will continue to see more engaging  and interactive toys for not only dogs and cats, but for birds, reptiles, and small animals. Toys and habitats will become more elaborate and engaging for pets; as well as trend toward more green, Made in the US, eco-friendly, healthier and safer as pet parents become increasingly educated and create demand.

Over the past couple of years innovation in the pet toy category has begun to stagnate. We fully expect to see pet product companies seek out relationships and partnerships to bring new and innovative toys to market, as well as invest more in research/development as the economy becomes more stable.

Pet Business Marketing in the Coming Years

This year we see several primary marketing related directions pet product and service companies will (and will need to) take this year and into the future to secure a successful business.
  • Broaden their base of prospective and current pet lovers; reaching more and additional demographics - through consolidation, acquisition, co-branding, licensing, and marketing tactics.
  • Creating, marketing and selling products and services that appeal and reach into other market segments beyond the pet loving baby boomers that the industry has historically marketed to, including mommies, men, genX, millennials.
  • Healthier, greener, safer will increase even more in the coming years as additional pet product and service consumers become even more savvy, utilizing many of the online and offline resources available to them in making more informed decisions for their pets.
  • Expectations for the pet loving consumer are changing. If pet business are not focusing their efforts on serving, assisting and nurturing current and prospective customers, continually reinventing how they market their pet business, keeping pace and adapting to the wants and needs of the continually changing demographic of the pet industry consumer, they will be left behind.
  • Marketing in the digital age, with the Internet, mobile, demographic and location based tactics, is continually challenging; yet with a well-rounded, integrated, targeted and tech savvy approach, pet businesses will be able to market and sell to the evolving demographic of the pet industry consumer in the coming years for the success of their business.
In conclusion

As the pet industry begins to come into its own, we will see many changes, growth, consolidation, and opportunity. But we will only see this for pet related businesses that adapt to the our changing market and increased competition from outside sources, develop tactics to reach a wider variety of demographics and market segments, as well as concentrate their efforts on healthier, safer initiatives.

Sources:
Baby Boomer Magazine
American Pet Products Association
Pet Business Magazine
Packaged Facts

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Pets again featured prominently in Doritos "Crash the Super Bowl" ad contest.

There is no shortage of pets included in ads created by amateur ad creators in this year's Doritos "Crash the super Bowl" contest.

Two of the selected ads will be shown during the Super Bowl. Doritos will pick one winner, and the other shown will be selected by viewer voting. The ad with the most votes will win the $1M prize.

Check out the 5 finalists below, and vote for your favorite at Doritos.com until January 29. The Super Bowl airs February 2, 2014 on the FOX network..











One pet featured submission that didn't make the voting cut:


Photo courtesy of NFL and The 2014 Super Bowl organizing commmittee.

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Using Vine to promote your pet business products and services.

Vine, one of the newest and hottest social media applications on the market. Now 40M strong, Vine is a mobile app (owned by Twitter) available for both iOS and Android that allows users to create and post six second video clips.

These clips can then be posted on Vine, shared on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, as well as embedded on website and blogs.

Like Instagram video (15 second vids), Vine has spawned an entirely new kind of content marketing in the form of short social video. Because of it's visual nature this new application lends itself very well to the pet product and service market. All types of businesses are now taking to Vine to promote their businesses, everyone from Home Depot to Blue Diamond to Gap and many, many more.

In the age of ADD, these short videos can be very powerful in helping you promote your pet business products and services. Here are a few ideas of how you can use Vine (and Instagram video) to help your pet business be more successful:
  • Give your customers and potential customers a little peek into what goes on behind the scenes of your pet business. Do you have dogs and cats roaming around your office? Let your audience meet them. This allows your business to connect on a more personal level with your customers and prospective customers.
  • Does your product require a little instruction? This is a great opportunity to bring more awareness of how well your product works through very short how to vids.
  • Want to show your customers and potential customers what sets your business, your product, your service apart? Get creative and showcase your differentiation.
  • Are you getting ready to launch a new product or service? Vine and Instagram video are great ways to showcase just how fun, interesting, and value-added your product/service can be.
  • Do you have customers just waiting for the chance to sing your praises? These tools are great ways to showcase product and service testimonials.
  • Vine and Instragram video are great ways to hold contests with your audiences. From user submitted and tagged vids to sneak peak guessing games, there are lots of innovative and creative ways to reward your customers or find new ones through contests.
Your vids don't have to be professionally done as candid is very popular. And it doesn't have to be specific to your product, but can be all about your brand. Remember, however, to always, always make your vids:
  • Creative
  • Entertaining
  • Engaging
  • Fun
To get your creative juices flowing with ideas of how you can utilize Vine and Instagram vids see these great examples from some great brands:
And have fun!

Photo courtesy of Vine.

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Online consumers shopping plans for Black Friday and Cyber Monday (infographic)

An interesting graphic outlining shopping interests for men, women, seniors and Gen Y for Black Friday and Cyber Monday courtesy of Tada.

Get more coupon data at Tada.

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What should pet businesses expect for the upcoming holiday season?

Two reports recently surfaced giving pet businesses a bit of insight into what they can expect for the upcoming holiday season.

According to the National Retail Federation, 'faced with continued economic uncertainty and used to doing more with less, consumers will take a conservative approach to spending this holiday season.'

The survey, conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, also indicates average shoppers will spend approximately two percent less than they spent last year. When asked if the overall state of the economy would affect their spending, 'more than half (51.0%) of consumers said the economy would in some way impact how they spend this holiday season. Specifically, 79.5 percent plan to spend less overall, looking to cut corners and tighten budgets where they can.'

To make more room in their budgets this year, consumers plan to cut back on “self-gifting,” or treating themselves to something, according to the report. 'Shoppers’ budget will go towards gifts for family members, with the average person planning to spend $415.50 on mom, dad, and other loved ones, down slightly from the actual $423.36 they spent last year. Additionally, people will spend $72.14 on friends, $23.59 on co-workers and $25.63 on others, such as pets and community members,' the report indicated.

Consistent with results seen the past 11 years, the report also shares information about when consumers will start their shopping:
  • 41.2 percent of Americans say they will begin holiday shopping before Halloween. 
  • 12.4 percent say they started before September, 
  • 8.2 percent began in September.
  • 20.6 percent will begin in October. 
  • More than one-third (38.8%) will begin in November.
  • 16.0 percent plan to start shopping in the first two weeks of December. 
  • Almost four percent (3.9%) will wait until last minute and shop in the last two weeks of the month.
Additionally, the report indicates more than half (51.5%) will shop online.

On the other hand, a recent report from American Express Spending and Saving Tracker (which tracks higher income levels) indicates, 'with a late Thanksgiving and the shortest holiday shopping season in years, consumers say they’re starting their holiday shopping sooner and spending more this year.'

The report goes on to say, 'consumers say they will expect to spend $1,260, up $400 from last year. Aiming to find the best deals, more than a quarter of Americans say they’ve already started holiday shopping and will finish before December 1st (27% vs. 24% in 2012), while others expect to finish a week before Christmas (37% vs. 33% in 2012).'

The AMEX Spending and Saving Tracker indicates, 'for the first time, Cyber Monday is beating out Black Friday as the most popular shopping day, as more consumers (55% vs. 39% in 2012) say they’ll shop the virtual blowout sales instead of fighting the crowds the day after Thanksgiving (52% vs. 45% in 2012)./

The report also shares many will go social in their savings this year 'as 66% plan to take advantage of offers via social media sites, up from 60% last year.' And when looking for discounts consumers look toward social media as well as, 'consumers “like” Facebook as the most popular social resource (49% vs. 46% in 2012), followed by Groupon (43%, up significantly from 27% last year), Pinterest (20%, up from 10%) and Twitter (20%, up from 15%).'

It's not too late to quickly reformulate your holiday marketing plan of attack and strategy to take full advantage of the upcoming holiday season and maximize sales for your pet business. Feel free to email us for a 30 minute free consultation to explore ideas of how we can help you make the most of the holidays.

Sources: American Express Spending and Saving Tracker and National Retail Federation. Photo courtesy skirtpr.

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Want to know if your pet business marketing is working? Measure it!

You've tried some public relations, some advertising, a little social media, sent newsletters, implemented contests and giveaways, but are you getting the results you need?

Results and a strong return on investment is what what you want with your marketing activities.

But how do you know if your marketing tactics, individually and collectively, are working?

You need to measure them.

Measuring your marketing program is something every company, large or small, needs to do to see if their marketing activities are working, and to see if they are achieving the strong return on investment to build your brand equity, generate leads and increase sales for your company.

Measuring marketing needs to be a big part of your marketing efforts, just as any marketing tactic you may choose to implement. Integrated into a full marketing plan, measuring activities can tell you if you are utilizing your marketing dollar the most effectively to achieve your goals.

How do you measure marketing? It's one of the questions I get everyday from my clients and my prospective clients.

The reality is there are multiple (and sometimes imperfect) ways to measure most forms of marketing. There isn't any definitive metric for many forms of marketing and no single metric can help you evaluate the effectiveness of all of your spending. Yet, you need to track your progress and hold your marketers accountable.

The overall the methodology of measuring your marketing dollar has three specific steps:

Tracking your marketing activities: 

Track impressions, reach, website visitors and from where they come, open rates, likes, comments, new followers, leads, and more.

Determining your sales cycle: 

Take your sales cycles into consideration. Your sales cycles is the length of time it takes for an individual or company to learn of your company and take action to purchase.

Tracking sales: 

Track your sales.Any sales that results in an increase in income, and identify them from their individual sales channels.

Simply put, once you have these three segments of information you can chart and graph from when an audience learns and engages with you to resulting sales, taking into consideration your sales cycle.

Once you have your data you will need to analyze it to see how your marketing activities (individually and collectively) are impacting your sales and brand awareness. But you need to keep in mind these important factors when analyzing your data:
  • Good marketers know that it takes much more than seven touches for someone to take notice and become a customer. Believing that one touch, one click will result in a sale is flawed.
  • There are many outside factors that can affect your marketing activities including the weather, time of day, the economy, competitors, the quality of your sales reps and marketing team, how your marketing activities are implemented, and more.
  • Multiple influencers can also affect your sales. On average there may be up to six people involved in a decision at a mid-sized company, up to 20 or more people may be involved in a decision in a large company. Remember that different marketing programs may also affect individuals differently.
  • It may only take one day for an individual to see you on Facebook and click through to purchase. And it may take other individuals seeing you up to seven times on Twitter before they are ready to purchase your product. In addition, it may take months to years for you to engage a deal with a retailer that you met at a trade show.
  • It's important to look beyond the "first touch" and seek to measure additional and multiple touches within your marketing measurement program.
  • Larger sales are easier to measure and may be specifically attributed to an individual event. However individual consumer sales can only be measured through trending of your marketing activity measurement.
  • Measuring your company's branding influence and awareness is very different than measuring your company sales. 
It may seem simple, but measuring your marketing in this manner can be a complex and time consuming process, however it is a much needed aspect of your overall marketing program.

What you put in is what you get out. By investing the time and resources into developing a marketing measurement program you increase your ability to market more effectively. Additionally, you will have the knowledge you need to utilize your marketing dollar to it's fullest by selecting and combining individual marketing tactics that work much more effectively for your business, increasing sales, profits, brand awareness and market share.

To learn more about how you can make the best use of your marketing dollar, feel free to contact us for a free 30-minute consultation.

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