We talk about our concerns, our ideas, our plans, our wants and needs, and how the industry addresses or needs to address these items. And I read about the pet industry - a lot, online and offline.
In finalizing their marketing plans for 2009, my clients have been asking me what I see as the Top Pet Industry Trends for 2009. Here's my short list:
Affects of the current economy
The economy may currently be on a down slide, but pets and pet spending will continue to be an important part of pet owners lives. Pet owners will cut back their spending on other categories of of their lives, but when it comes to their pets they will continue spending on pet related wants and needs, therefore retailers won't see the significant decline they may be expecting.
The pet industry, in most categories will not be as affected by the current state of the economy nearly as quickly or as significantly as industries related to other categories of consumer spending. However, the pet industry is not recession proof and pet product and service companies will need to be more creative, targeted and keen in their marketing strategies to see growth and offset the price increases expected in products and services needed to run their businesses.
We will see continued spending on not only the necessities for pets, but we'll also see continued and overall increased spending for luxury, green and exceeding pet products and services. Pet owners will spend more on their pets current needs, and they will continue the trend of previous years of increasing their spending on additional needs and wants, as well. Quality, over quantity will be an important factor to pet owners this year, meaning they will be spending more for higher quality products and services, but will not purchase items as often.
With past pet related spending growing at at over $2 billion each year* over the past seven years, pet product and service retailing has grown in leaps and bounds. What does the face of retailing look like for 2009?
You will see growth in not only brick and mortar retailing, but online as well. Larger retailers will broaden their products and services to attract growing segments of pet owners - those that want more luxury and green types of products and services; non pet related companies will broaden their product base to target the pet industry; and you will see growth in smaller retailers through more niche oriented types of product and service offerings.
Partnerships between companies will be forged to help alleviate the cost of providing additional products and services on their own. You will see mergers and acquisitions as companies seek to provide added offerings for their customers (although not as much as previous years), you will see continued growth in the boutique and independent related retail business category, and new businesses will be launched to provide products and services related to these growth categories for pet owners, online and brick and mortar.
Green Is The New Black
With all the past and persistent concerns of pet foods and pet products containing dangerous, toxic, and too often times, deadly ingredients, pet owners will continue their pursuit for safer and healthier products for their pets - from foods, to toys, to clothing, to medicines, health care, environmentally and pet friendly products and more.
In their quest for these healthier and safer products, they will in turn evaluate their pet's environment (as well as their own), ultimately steering them toward a more greener lifestyle. The majority of pet owners will not change their lifestyle overnight, but will migrate their lifestyle as they become more educated about how their environment affects not only their pets, but their own life as well.
This will broaden the availability and accessibility of greener products for pets for the current select group of concerned pet owners, as well as drive education for the general pet population. It will be a viable business opportunity for those looking to broaden their pet business product base; companies that currently provide 'green' products and services will seek out the pet market; and 'green' products and services will be a key niche for enterprising business owners.
Trends in Health and Care
As pets become more and more a part of the family, the health and care of their pets will become even more of a concern.
Pet owners will seek out the new, significant and wonderful advances that are being discovered in pet health care and diagnosis. Related treatments and procedures come at a significant price - prices that are generally over and above budgets of most pet owners. Because of this, pet lovers will seek out a variety of payment and budgeting methods to manage their pet's care - including health and wellness insurance for their pets, individual health savings accounts, corporate payment plans, and the like. And these plans will become much more widely and readily available through insurance companies, retailers, veterinarians, groomers, and more. Comparison shopping among plans will be key for consumers.
In addition, pet lovers will seek out and broaden their use of alternative treatments to help their pets live a longer and happier life, including massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, hydrotherapy, nutrition, herbs, homeopathy and more, thus creating more niche service providers, and opportunity for current providers to expand their services.
Pet lovers will continue and grow in their patronage of groomers, doggie daycares, dog walkers, and pet sitters. And we will see a growth in service categorizes such as day spas, luxury pet hotels, rehabilitation and workout facilities, and camps. And as pet owners seek closure of the loss of their 'best friend,' we will see an increase in products and services related to the the pet funeral industry and in pet trusts.
All of these health and care services will create not only opportunity for the small business opportunist and owner, but create a niche for existing larger companies through acquisitions, partnerships, or the development of additional business segments.
You Can Take 'Em With You
As pets continue to become a cherished part of the family, they will travel more and more with their families. This will lead to increased products and services in the pet travel category, as well as increased purchasing of pet travel related items and services.
Companies will beef up their car safety and transport product lines, automotive and auto insurance companies will expand their marketing to pet lovers, and you will see an influx of travel related services for pets; from major airlines catering to pets as part of their offerings, to websites and companies that provide information and services geared toward pet related travel.
Beloved pet parents want to share their beloved pets with the world, and they want to interact with other pet lovers. Online social networking has become a way for these pet lovers to interact with other like minded people to share information, meet new friends, seek important health and behavior information related to their pets, network with other pet lovers, and keep abreast of new products, services, news and information related to their pets.
From Dogster/Catster and MySpace, to Facebook, Twitter and more, pet loving parents of dogs, cats, hamsters, horses, ferrets and and other pets will be online, interacting with other pet lovers at an unbelievable increasing rate. You will see a growing trend of pets and pets parents online, as well as continued growth and expansion of services by the companies that provide these online services for this category.
And because these pets are 'online' you will also see a growing trend of pet related companies getting in on the online social networking bandwagon in an effort to market to, inform, and promote their products and services to this growing online segment.
What's in Store for Products and Services
Luxury, green, organic, all-natural, interactive, convenient, high-tech, and personalized - these are the trends you will see take center stage with growth in both pet products and services in 2009. Pet product manufacturers, retailers, distributors and service providers will be growing and building their offerings in all of these categories - whether they be toys, foods, clothing, grooming, training, boarding, or any and all pet related categories.
These are just a few of the trends we see affecting and directing the pet industry in 2009. As an aspiring pet business owner, or current owner, we hope that these trends will help you increase your business and your sales in the coming year, and provide pet owners with the products and services they want and need.
*APPA - Industry Statistics & Trends