As time marches on the demographics of pet owners con- tinues to change. Millennials own pets now, and these consumers shop differently from the way their Baby Boomer parents shop. Still, the older, empty nesters
remain a favorite target consumer for pet products companies.
Both age groups are contributing to what industry observers say is
a strong pet category.
According to the American Pet Products Association’s (APPA)
2015/2016 National Pet Owners Survey, there are 79. 7 million pet-owning households, representing a 50 percent gain over the past
two decades. The survey also states that more than 10 percent of
current pet owners are new pet owners, which equates to almost
eight million new pet owners within the last year.
Many of these new pet owners are Generation Y, which, according to the Greenwich, Conn.-based APPA, is an age group that is
more likely to buy toys, gift and care items, pet cams and other
These young pet owners are important, say observers.
“Millennials are highly involved consumers,” says Paul Cooke, vice
president and director of trade and industry development for St.
Louis-based Nestlé Purina PetCare. ” They tend to pay close atten-
tion to the product benefits, and the value equation has never been
more important than with this group. They seek information and
do a lot of their research online.”
In fact, according to Pet Product Marketing Trends in the U.S.:
Technology, Mobile, and Social Media, a report by Rockville, Md.-
based market research publisher Packaged Facts, U.S. pet owners
are more likely than non-pet owners to have recently used digital
devices and technologies. While many use the Internet to find
home delivery of pet foods and products, others are searching for
information about which pet foods to buy. The Internet is espe-
cially well-suited to “info-centric” pet products, including pre-
mium and niche items, the report notes.
That information includes health-related aspects of pet prod-
ucts. Cooke says Millennials are a group of purchasers that are
very cognizant of ingredients. “They want to feed their pets in the
same way they feed themselves,” he says. “Health, wellness and
quality of life are very important.”
Convenience is also important to Millennials, says Mark
Pasco, vice president of sales for Mammoth Lakes, Calif.-based
Pet product manufacturers say the category is strong, and will remain so
for retailers that keep up with changing demographics. BY NORA CALEY