25 April 2017

FUTURE TRENDS - Millennials Own More Pets than Other Generations

Millennials are, according to Bob Vetere, the President and CEO of the American Pet Products Association (APPA), “a very passionate, active, and connected group” of pet owners.

APPA released their 2017 National Pet Owners Survey at the end of March, and the findings indicate that, for the first time, millennials own more pets than Gen Xers or baby boomers.

Millennials are the generation born between 1981 and 2000, and reading between the lines of the report, it is possible to see hints of a generation leaning on their pets as they struggle with ongoing economic stress.

Some of the key findings from the APPA report are:
·       85% of owners believe pets are a good source of affection
·       82% agree that interacting with a pet can help them relax
·       81% are aware that owning a pet can be beneficial to their own health
·       81% feel unconditional love for their pet
·       61% feel buying a pet product made in the USA is important to them

Many of these findings are encouraging.

Engaged, committed, loving pet owners are good for pets and for pet-related industries. However, when discussing the millennial generation, intentions cannot be teased apart from economics.

Millennials are the subject of heated debate among pundits and professionals.

Are they the most entitled generation? (Probably not.) The most narcissistic generation? The most cautious generation? The most unique generation? The most stressed out generation? The most anxious generation? The most progressive generation?

If nothing else, they may be the most speculated upon generation!

Some of these generational traits have significant implications for the role of millennials within the pet industry.

In 2014, Forbes reported that half of Millennials were living paycheck to paycheck, and three years later, millennials are carrying high debt loads.

Despite the fact that millennials are a passionate generation of pet owners, pet ownership is expensive and millennials are a generation beset by economic insecurity and political volatility.

This economic instability is one reason so many millennials own pets, but not houses.

It is also one reason so many love their pets unconditionally, but are forgoing or delaying parenthood.

But, despite the fact that pet ownership is not as expensive as home ownership or parenthood, economic instability can put pet ownership at risk.

In Alberta, the Calgary Humane Society has seen a significant increase in owner surrenders coinciding with the ongoing economic struggle.

This pattern repeats itself across North America, where economic hardship is a frequent cause of pet surrender.

Despite this, millennial spending on pets is expected to increase in the next year.

Not only are pets being treated as surrogate children by many millennials, there is also the reality of health benefits resulting from pet ownership.

Studies show that pets can help with everything from PTSD to high blood pressure, and with healthcare costs remaining high, pets may play yet another important role for millennials.

Regardless of the pressures facing the millennial generation, their pets are standing by to help.

About Tiffany Sostar
Tiffany is a published academic, an editor with the Editors Association of Canada, an independent scholar and researcher, and a self-care and narrative coach. She is particularly interested in the intersection of technology and identity - how our tools shape our selves and change our stories, and in how the nature of work is changing as we incorporate more technology into our daily lives.

24 April 2017

BUSINESS - For-Profit Companies Created to Impact Social Issues

With millennials being a generation of social innovators, many companies are building social innovation into their business.

There is also a growing number of businesses being created for social innovation - the integration of private capital with public and philanthropic support.

One example is 7 Virtues, a Canadian company created specifically to empower families in countries that are rebuilding.

Inspired by her injured friend’s experience in the military in Afghanistan, founder Barb Stegemann started a perfume company that sourced essential oils from the war-torn country.  

Stegemann read about Abdullah Arsala, owner of a distillery in Jalalabad, Afghanistan who was trying to support his tribe by creating legal crops of orange blossom and rose instead of the poppy crop that accounts for 90% of the world’s heroin supply.

Her company’s mission: Make Perfume Not War. To make rebuilding more exciting than destruction.

Since they began sourcing oils from Afghanistan, they have expanded to also include Haiti and Rwanda.

7 Virtues purchase their organic patchouli essential oil from farming co-operatives in Rwanda so locals can buy school uniforms and build homes for their families.

Another goal of the company is to encourage other businesses to trade with nations that are rebuilding:
“Buy their saffron, buy their soaps, candles, essential oils, buy anything that will empower families to buy books and shoes for their children and take it to market.”

7 Virtues pays fair market value for their oils and does not test on animals.

A documentary - Perfume War - was created that tells the story of Stegemann and the creation of her company, including an appearance on Dragon’s Den and subsequent investment by businessman and philanthropist W. Brett Wilson.

Because millennials are so concerned about social issues such as human rights, racial justice, gender equality, representation and more, it won’t be surprising to see more businesses embrace social innovation or be founded based on the concept.

23 April 2017

HEALTH - The Pet Effect Shares the Science of Pets and People

A growing body of evidence shows just how good pets are for people.

Zoetis, a founder of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), has launched the Pet Effect Campaign to share scientific evidence and research about this unique relationship between people and animals.

Anyone trying to convince their family or significant other to get a pet can visit their website where it’s easy to find detailed information about how pets have a positive impact on heart attack survival, allergy prevention, depression, blood pressure, autism and more.

Of course, researchers and writers will also find this website very valuable with its quick links to a variety of studies.

The Pet Effect will also share the message and the science that shows how veterinary medicine is an essential component of health for pets and people.

While the site is lighthearted, the information is scientific and impacts community health.

“Zoetis partnered with HABRI to bring veterinarians, pet owners and the general public The Pet Effect, a multi-faceted, educational campaign to promote a growing body of scientific research that shows how important the human-animal bond is for human health,” Mike McFarland, Group Director Companion Animal Marketing at Zoetis, says on their site.

“The purpose of the Pet Effect is to raise awareness and encourage conversation about why pets make us healthier and happier, and how veterinarians — the professionals who help keep pets healthy – are also key contributors to human health and public health.”

Resources on the website include posters, videos, infographics, brochures and flyers.

22 April 2017

DIGITAL - How to Conduct a Social Media Audit

Measuring social media is always a challenge.

A great tool for digital marketers is a social media audit.

A social media audit is the process of reviewing what’s working, what’s failing and what can be improved upon across your social media channels.

When you conduct a social media audit, you collect and analyze data from all of your social media accounts looking closely at your activity, results, audience, and financial investments.

And there are a plenty of tools out there to help you create a social media audit that works for your company or organization.

Hootsuite has a template for an audit so you don’t even have to create the document - just fill in the blanks.

Social Media Examiner recently posted an article about how to conduct an audit that also has information about the value of the results.

The format of Harvard Business Review’s template - which includes who, where, what, when, why and opportunity - provides a clear and simple result that is easy to understand and develop future goals from.

A Sproutsocial blog post has detailed information to help you determine what you want to include in your template, how to determine the best and worst performing channels, and even reminds you to check your branding across all your digital marketing efforts.

While audits take time, they are important to help keep a business on track and meeting organization goals.

They don’t need to be done weekly or even monthly.

Most organizations complete a social media audit quarterly, twice per year or annually.