20 March 2016

BUSINESS - Marketing to Millennial Pet Owners

Move over Baby Boomers!

The Millennials are poised to lead the pack in pet product and service purchasing in upcoming years.

First, they like their pets - with 35.2% of America's 75 million Millennials owning a cat or dog, compared with 32.8% of Baby Boomers.

Additional data, also according GfK at Global Pet Expo 2015, shows another 20% in the generation report they intend to get a pet.

One reason the group – age 18 to 34 - are predicted to take a big bite out of the pet industry market is simply because Millennials are the largest U.S. pet-owning group.

But findings go beyond sheer population and speak to purchasing habits specific to the generation.

Case in point – 63% of Millennials agree pets should be pampered, according to GfK research.

That and other findings add up to good news for industry catering to pets, especially those willing to capitalize by tailoring to expectations the generation has when looking for pet products or services.

Some things to consider when it comes to characteristics of the generation and how they shop are offered by editor-in-chief, Debbie Phillips-Donaldson (on PetfoodIndustry.com and gleaned from the American Pet Products Association's 2015-2016 National Pet Owners Survey.)

Phillips-Donaldson says:
  • What's hot and what's not, often according to celebrities, matters when it comes to purchasing decisions for Millennials.
  • The latest and greatest in products/services is attractive and if it's customized, even better.
  • Those in the generation are apt to spend more on pets than themselves and like to research products, especially on social media, looking for customer reviews and mobile apps for promotions and discounts.
  • They aren't prone to brand loyalty, which means they are open to trying new products, and like to buy products which has proceeds benefiting a cause.
  • Other distinctions include a preference for raw pet food or recipes focused on pet health and a willingness to do more to care for their pets, like purchasing dental hygiene-related products to care for pets at home.

A recent Packaged Facts report shows those in the Millennial generation are much more likely than those in the 35-plus category to spend more for pet products and over the next few years.

Those in the 40 to 54-year-old age population (which has a high propensity to own and spend on pets) is expected to decline while pet ownership has typically seen a steep decline after age 6o.

So, the target market – if retailers want to focus on that opportunity – is the Millennials.

Something some companies are trying to work with.

UltraPet, for instance, has Neon Litter which is aimed at a generation looking for “fun, function and the ability to personalize,” while pet food company, Zoic, is pushing affordably-priced, new age pet food created by Millennials for Millennials.

By Nadia Moharib
Nadia Moharib is an animal lover who has adopted everything from birds to hamsters, salamanders, rabbits, fish and felines. She has written about all-things-pets for years and was a long-time editor of a pet magazine in a daily newspaper which featured a Q & A column, Ask Whit, penned by her pooch (ghost written, of course.) The serial dog owner lives in Calgary, Alberta and most days can be found at a dog park picking up after her rescue pooch, Scoots.

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