Arf. Woof? Bark! Pet supplies are a hot commodity these days as consumers eagerly pamper their pooches and coddle their cats.
Whether they’ve been a long-time pet parent or caught the pandemic pet bug and adopted a furry friend, the money consumers are spending on their pets these days isn’t just for kibble and a few bits; instead, they want the best for Rover and Fluffy. In 2020, the industry saw sales of pet products top $100 billion in sales for the first time—and it just keeps growing. Euromonitor International’s research shows that American dog owners spent more than $21 billion on non-medical pet products in 2021. On top of that, they spent more than $28 billion on dog food. And in 2021, Barkbox saw their revenue jump by 130% between April and September, compared to the same time frame in 2020. The American Pet Products Association’s State of the Industry report shows that one-third of pet parents spent more on pet supplies in 2020.
Pet supply sales are expected to reach $1 billion by 2027, and new products are hitting the market as consumers spend more time at home with their pets, as well as some products capturing those times when pet parents are away. Pet wipes, inventive habitats, wi-fi connected litter boxes—you name it, the pet industry has, or most likely will, create it.
The sharp increase in interest in pets has sparked innovation across the pet supplies industry, with some interesting trends emerging. Here are a few to take note of as 2022 gears up to be another big year for Fido and crew:
1. Supplemental love
If you think the trend toward a healthier lifestyle was relegated to humans, think again. Joshua Errett, COO and co-founder of Because, Animals., is seeing a boom in pet supplements, spurred on by the focus on healthy living.
“It’s part of the obsession – which I share! – with keeping your animals healthy,” he notes. “In the face of the pandemic, health was indeed on our collective minds, and supplements are an easy and relatively inexpensive way to boost our animals’ health and nutrition.”
Supplements, he adds, fit like a glove into the overall pandemic consumer packaged goods (CPG) trend toward e-commerce—almost 70% of the $1.5 billion supplement market is from e-commerce. And that’s in line with what research is showing; for example, the APPA’s State of the Industry report notes that in 2020, 47% of pet parents increased the number of times they purchased products online.
What’s more, Errett notes, most supplements are the perfect product for e-commerce retail—high margin, lightweight, and small for easy shipping, plus they benefit from the network effect of recommendations and reviews that online shopping provides. 2020 saw many brands employ the direct-to-consumer route of commerce, particularly while consumers were under stay-at-home orders. However, there is still a long way to go for pet supplies to capitalize on that channel, Errett says.
“Whenever lockdown restrictions eased, you saw consumers going back to pet stores,” he notes. “This means to me that there is something valuable about brick-and-mortar retail that e-commerce is missing, at least in pet care.”
Are you a supplier interested in getting your pet products certified to show that you’re committed to quality, vigilance, and the well-being of animals? Connect with NASC (National Animal Supplement Council) on RangeMe here.
2. Dinner is served, Spot
Kortney Unruh at Tender and True Pet Nutrition, echoes the trend toward pet health, and sees it also playing out in the food pet parents serve their furry friends. “During the pandemic, more consumers became health conscious or more aware of healthy trends. This definitely transcended to the pet industry as we saw growth around premium pet food,” she notes.
Popping open a can of wet food or pouring out a cup of dried pellets no longer suffices for pet parents who see the animals in their home not just as pets, but as family members. Rather, meal time is an experience for both pets and humans alike.
“Being a premium food provider, we have seen more pet owners looking for high quality treats and ways to differentiate pets’ meals with various proteins, food types, or even toppers,” Unruh says. That adds an interactive aspect to meals as pet parents can create meals that are specific to their pet and their pet’s preferences, she adds. “More so than ever, pets are becoming an integral part of the family.”
Errett notes that he doesn’t see the trend of meal prep for pets ending anytime soon. “It’s all part of the humanization of pets,” he says, and mixing in a probiotic, adding moisture with a broth, or putting a yummy topper on food is an extension of this trend.
3. Sustainability is the cat’s meow
Certifications have seen an uptick in interest across CPG categories as consumers increasingly want the products they buy to align with their values. Natural, organic, minority-owned, women-owned, Fair Trade, USA Made—these certifications aren’t just showing up on the foods people eat, they’re also increasingly visible on pet products and supplies, too.
Unruh has seen a push for sustainability in products that is gaining steam. “As consumers demand more from their suppliers, it is likely that the push to sustainable products will extend to packaging, ingredient sourcing, and overall impact on the environment,” she says.
Sustainability starts with research, Errett notes, and as we’re already seeing that move in the human food system, it will eventually move to pet food as well.
“There’s a surge of interest in remaking our human food system to be more sustainable, to realign agriculture with our current, very dire, environmental crisis,” he says. “That will happen in pet food, too, and pet food has to be ready. What can be done, specifically with the meat content of pet food, to make it less devastating for our environment and healthier for animals?” He adds that alternatives to factory farmed meat may see a rise in interest. “Consumers have more awareness now than ever that those meats may not be the best diet for pets, and certainly not the best diet for the environment.”
Pets are family, too
Much like your dog’s devotion to play with your new shoes, the growth and interest in innovative pet supplies won’t fade so easily.
“It’s important of retailers to understand what their shoppers are searching for and offer products that meet or exceed expectation,” Unruh says. To do so means understanding the products and how they meet consumers’ wants and needs. “Retailers can also help educate new pet owners about their product offerings as well as the importance of nutrition for their pets’ overall wellness,” she adds.
Consumers want what is best for their pets—even more so than themselves, in some cases! As a savvy retailer or supplier, understanding that underlying fact is essential for connecting with consumers in order to meet pets’ needs.
“Living with a cat or dog adds joy and happiness to your life, and you want that to continue forever,” Errett says, adding that, “healthy is the new pampering. If we can help our pets to be healthy and live longer, then we feel better.”