Top Pet Industry Trends for 2010
Good news! The pet industry continues to be one of the few industries successfully navigating our current economic recession, while many industries are struggling to survive.
Throughout the year, I work with many pet business owners - from pet product manufacturers and pet related service providers, to online and offline retail shops, and new product and services companies entering the pet industry market. And, I talk with industry analysts to keep up on new and evolving trends in the pet industry.
One of the key marketing strategies I discuss with my clients is what’s current and what’s on the horizon for the pet industry, and how can they leverage this knowledge to be more successful in their business.
Here are my Top Pet Industry Trends for 2010.
The Facts/The Market
Many pet industry and retailer analysts’ predictions for 2010 continue to point to an increase in overall sales of US pet products and services.
According to the recent January 19, 2010 survey by market research publisher Packaged Facts, “U.S. sales of pet products and services increased 4.8 percent to $54 billion in 2009.” They also indicate “sales of veterinarian services increased the most at nearly 10 percent, followed by pet food at 5 percent, other pet services at 4 percent and non-food pet supplies (which includes grooming products and bedding) at 3 percent.”
Overall, Packaged Facts is projecting the U.S. pet market will grow at a 7.1-percent compound annual rate from 2008 to 2013, up from 6.4 percent in the previous five-year period (2004-2008).
The American Pet Products Association projections for 2010 are not yet in, however, their March 2009 estimated total U.S. pet industry expenditures for 2009 was $45.5 billion, with actual spending in 2008 at $43.2 billion, a complimentary increase.
While the total numbers may vary, there is no doubt that the pet industry overall is a growing industry.
We are already seeing 2010 as showing great signs for continued imperviousness to the down economy. My expectation is that this trend will continue as pets grow more solidly and widely in their position as cherished family members, and aging baby boomers look to pets to fill a void left by empty nests.
Pets in the US
One of the key and most important continuing trends in the pet industry is the status of pets in the lives of families all across the US.
As in recent and past years, there is no doubt that pets continue to become more and more a part of the family, even to the extent of becoming, in some cases, ‘humanized’. With that heightened status in the family, comes an increased awareness and interest by pet owners for information on how they can best care for and feed their pets, integrate them more in their busy lives, and make their lives more happy, healthy, rewarding and engaging.
Combine that with the existing proliferation and availability of information via the Internet, you have millions of pet owners seeking out information, recommendations, and ideas on how they can help their pets lead a more healthy and enjoyable life.
The Face of Retailing both Products and Services
Even though the economy is certainly still struggling, this continued increase in status of pets in the family in a broader number of families throughout the US, will drive more and more pet loving families to purchase. Quality, rather than quantity, will prevail.
Spending will increase in the areas of pet care luxury services, like dog daycare, day spas, pet sitting and dog walking, and adventure camps, as the lives of pet loving families become increasingly busy.
A number of independent organizations are gaining ground in testing, lobbying and getting the word out about the safety and health effects of some pet products on the market. Green, eco-friendly, and healthier products will be sought after as consumers learn more about these potential dangers.
Durable, longer lasting products will be key to consumers as they seek out value in an effort to protect their wallets.
The pet industry is, however, feeling the effects of the economy and increased competition. 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.
General big box and larger retailers will continue to jump on the pet products/service bandwagon in an effort to dive into the successful pet industry. In addition, pet industry big box retailers and larger service providers will continue to increase and broaden their products, and services, with the intention of becoming a one stop shop for all consumer pet needs.
More celebrities will form partnerships with existing pet product manufacturers and retailers in an effort for both of them to capitalize on pet industry opportunities. Other partnerships and mergers between companies online and offline will be forged to help alleviate the cost of providing additional products and services on their own during the tough economy.
Only the strong will survive in the pet boutique and independent pet-related retail business category, online and brick and mortar, Those that strive to create niches for green and healthy products, big dogs, or other chosen niches, will be the most successful as they target their specific markets, educate consumers, and work to build a loyal customer base. With this economy, a niche within the high end luxury pet product market would be a risk, without a current base of loyal customers or significant capital to weather the current economic conditions.
Successful smaller pet businesses will become the end all, be all for their specific chosen pet business niche reaching information seeking pet owners, via a wide variety of online and offline tools to help communicate, and showcase themselves as respected experts in their pet industry niche to help their businesses, services and products stand out from the competition, and grow.
Pet toy manufacturers will be concentrating on creating and expanding their product lines to focus on multi-purpose, intelligent, interactive and puzzle type toys as these pet loving families look for ways to further interact, spend time with and entertain their pets, and as the one purpose toy category is over saturated.
Green (and Healthy) Is Still The New Black
A growing number of organizations are lobbying and actively assisting and helping more and more pet lovers understand and become more knowledgeable about the health and safety of pet related products on the market. More and more consumers will actively seek out information via the Internet and social media in their pursuit for safer and healthier products and services for their pets; including everything from specialty products to necessity products, as well as services provided like grooming, boarding and day care.
This trend and availability of information will steer more and more large and small manufacturers, service providers and retailers to offer greener, safer, higher quality and healthier products and services. Education will be key for all of these pet businesses in helping their potential customers understand health and safety issues, as consumer seek information.
Trends in Health and Care
Continuing along the lines of ‘pets as family,’ and as pet healthcare advances have grown dramatically in recent years, comes an increase in the cost of caring for pets.
As we saw last year, we will continue to see an increase in the number of pet related retailers, as well as non-pet related big box and regional retailers, offer pet health insurance and care options to their customer base through affiliations with existing pet health insurance and care companies.
In addition, we will see an increase in the number of pet insurance brands as they jump on the pet healthcare growth bandwagon, even though these companies may utilize the same insurance company. Pet insurance, health care companies and providers will expand their offerings to provide a wider range of services and options for pet loving families, including plan offerings, coverage for alternative types of treatments, and coverage for older pets, all driven by consumer demand and increasing competition.
Because of the increase in competition, we may see a the availability of decreased costs offered by competing health insurance, and packages available through larger pet and non-pet retailers.
We will also see an increase in the number of larger employer companies offering pet health insurance and wellness plans as part of their benefits packages for their general employee population.
Consumers will be increasingly attracted to 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 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. Comparison shopping among plans will be key for consumers.
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 and actively participate in family activities outside of the home.
This will continue to lead to increased products and services in the pet travel category, as well as increased purchasing of pet travel related items and services.
As predicted last year, we will see more companies beefing up their car safety and transport product lines, automotive and auto insurance companies will expand their marketing to pet lovers, as well as expand their offerings; and you will see a continued influx of travel related services for pets; from major airlines catering more effectively to pets as part of their offerings, to websites and companies that provide information and services geared toward pet related travel.
Social Networking and the Internet
There is no doubt that social networking, blogging, and other forms of online communication will continue to play a major role in many pet loving families lives this year, as they look to share their beloved pets with the world, seek out respected and recommended information, network with like-minded pet owners, and keep informed of pet related news, information, products and services.
From Dogster/Catster to Facebook, Twitter, blogs and online groups and forums, pet loving parents of dogs, cats, hamsters, horses, ferrets and other pets are online, interacting with other pet lovers at an unbelievable increasing rate.
With the availability of social networking at their fingertips 24 hours a day, through various devices, this trend will continue to grow and expand. Also with that availability, comes passionate pet lovers talking about what they like and don’t like in the way of products and services pet businesses provide.
It can be a great opportunity for pet products manufacturers, retailers, and service providers to connect and provide education to these information seeking online pet consumers in an effort to grow their business.
The key for successful companies will be how they handle customer service, education, information sharing, and interaction with these potential and current customers, and how they work to gain the respect and trust of the pet loving consumer.
These are just a few of the trends we see effecting and directing the pet industry in 2010. 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.