Five Megatrends Shaping the Future of Pet Care
The pet care industry is in secular growth mode. According to the American Pet Products Association, over the last 30 years, pet ownership has gone from 56% to 68% of all US households. Some of this change is due to technology and our flexible lifestyles, including the advent of online purchasing. However, the majority of this growth has come from an innate change in our culture and demographics. As Millennials and Gen Z consumers have entered adulthood, they have embraced the pet-loving and pet-owning lifestyles much more than their parents. Today’s households headed by younger cohorts account for 62% of all pet ownership. In this piece, we unpack five of the key megatrends that are shaping the future of pet care.
One of the forces supercharging growth in the pet care industry is the transition toward humanisation of pets. Now more than ever, pets are viewed as an integral part of the family. Demographic changes have shaped this new, more nurturing type of pet ownership. The decline of the nuclear family has seen a growing number of single person households, unmarried and childless families adopt pets. Similarly, the rise of our aging population and empty nesters has given rise to more pet adoption to fill the void.
The demand for premiumisation is driving new innovation in pet products, in particular food. Today’s consumers want a combination of premium and value which has led to arrival of premium-private labels. These products have all the features consumers want for their pets (all-natural, organic, grain-free, non-GMO) but are sold under store brand (i.e. private label) at an accessible price point. These labels and mass premium offerings are now also branching out to more functional ingredients (probiotics, omegas, glucosamine) and processing methods – including raw foods (frozen or freeze-dried), fresh-cooked foods (frozen or refrigerated) and “new wet” foods (stew, broth, puree, pate) – which are driving premiumisation to new heights.
3. Ecommerce and the Digital Lifestyle
Digitisation continues to define pet retail. New business models like subscriptions and personalised nutrition continue to disrupt long-established brands while shaking up the competitive landscape. While the pandemic accelerated the shift to ecommerce as pet owners no longer could make trips to retail outlets, the ‘digital pet economy’ is expected to critically shape decision-making for pet owners going forward. According to a recent Euromonitor survey, as many as 73% of consumers stated that they now conduct research online into pet products and services before making purchases over the internet.
Amongst the rise of pet parents, Millennials are leading the way. Research conducted by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association in 2021 found that 35% of young adults (age 24-35) have either already become new pet owners or are planning to add a pet to their families. Millennials are expected to account for 1 in 3 pet parents by 2025 and already spending more on their pets versus prior generations.
Today’s pet parents are looking for brands with purpose. According to Euromonitor, world total SKUs relating to sustainability rose by 11% in 2020 compared to 2019. In particular, SKUs relating to animal welfare, sustainable packaging and environmental impact gained focus. Whereas pet product demand has previously largely centred around natural and organic labels, focus is now increasingly shifting toward transparency and traceability in supply-chains and sustainability of ingredients and proteins (and whether brands have vegan alternatives) through the broader lens of climate and emissions.
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 Forbes, “The Biggest Trends In The Pet Industry”, November 2018. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/richardkestenbaum/2018/11/27/the-biggest-trends-in-the-pet-industry/?sh=2eeeed17f099
 SGK, “How Pet Humanisation is Driving Pet Care Growth”, 2022. Available at: https://sgkinc.com/en/industries/health/single-industry/how-pet-humanisation-is-driving-pet-care-growth/
 Euromonitor International, “World Market For Pet Care, May 2021. Available at: Euromonitor Passport on euromonitor.com
 Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, “PFMA Confirms Dramatic Rise In Pet Acquisition Among Millennials”, 2022. Available at: https://www.pfma.org.uk/news/pfma-confirms-dramatic-rise-in-pet-acquisition-among-millennials-#:~:text=Over%20one%20third%20(35%25),a%20pet%20to%20their%20families
 Mars Petcare, “The State of the Pet Nation Report”, 2021. Available at: https://gbr.mars.com/sites/g/files/jydpyr521/files/2021-11/Mars%20Petcare%20-%20The%20State%20of%20the%20Pet%20Nation%20Report%202021_0.pdf
 Euromonitor International, “World Market For Pet Care, May 2021. Available at: euromonitor.com