When marketing to younger dog and cat-owning adults, companies should emphasize label transparency, natural and organic ingredients, green and sustainable practices, and holistic formulations
Between their growing numbers and affinity for “natural” pet products, the Millennial cohort wields a significant buying power for the industry, according to market research firm Packaged Facts in the report Millennials as Pet Market Consumers.
“The pet product market’s consumer landscape is changing, and marketers must prepare for younger, informed consumers while also standing out,” says David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts.
Millennial consumers—adults between ages 18 and 34—not only have pets of their own, they are ready to coddle them using the most sustainable (and sometimes economic) ways possible. The market for naturally made, organic pet products generates billions of dollars in the pet industry each year, and chief among the drivers of this sustainably minded trend are younger current and prospective pet owners.
The trend toward natural, organic products is nothing new in the U.S. pet product market, especially as product lines both big and small respond to a growing demand for more naturally made, healthier-for-pets products. Traditionally Baby Boomers have dominated the pet market consumer landscape and set market trends. Specifically, those pet owners aged 40 to 54 spend the most on pets and related products, but as they spend less after reaching the age of 60, and because more and more boomers have reached or are closing in on their 60th birthday, younger pet owners have the opportunity to set the pet market landscape on a new course. More Millennial pet owners brought up in an increasingly health-conscious U.S. – and fewer baby boomers – means an upward trajectory for the “natural,” sustainably-made pet food trend. Packaged Facts’ National Online Consumer Survey data identify 1 in 3 of U.S. pet owners as Millennials, responsible for 43% of pet owner growth between 2007 and 2015. As Millennials get older and their budgets increase, spending on natural, organic pet food products will only continue to grow.
Millennials as Pet Market Consumers indicates the strength of Millennials’ impact on the pet product market and their inclination toward natural, organic products. Here are four of the report’s most telling results:
- More than half (55%) of Millennial pet owners are willing to try holistic and natural-branded nutritional supplements before resorting to conventional pet medication, as opposed to only 30% of owners 35 and over. When the only option left is to buy conventional pet medication however, more than half (52%) of Millennials buy meds oppose to only 28% of any other demographic.
- Nearly three-quarters (69%) of Millennial pet owners are more likely to consider foods whose recipes use naturally-made ingredients over “normal,” mass-produced foods, versus fewer than half (44%) of owners over 35.
- Three-quarters (75%) of Millennial dog owners agree that fear of pet food contamination or product safety is a key consideration in the foods they buy, compared to only 66% of their older counterparts. Almost two-thirds (64%) of Millennial cat owners compared to just 49% of other owners are likely to feel the same way. Today, pet food companies are increasingly vigilant in their internal protocols for indentifying safety issues, and it’s not uncommon for companies to recall as much as a week’s worth of product when just one line of product is found to be contaminated. One pet company, Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food, did just this in February 2017 after a potential contaminant was found in one of its products. The food was linked to illness in five dogs that ate it (and one of the dogs died).
- Millennials are on the lookout for products whose labeling is transparent and green, and are most likely to use pet foods with formulations geared toward enhancing the health of their pets, including pet foods characterized as organic, holistic, non-GMO, and grain-free.
About the Report
Millennials as Pet Market Consumers focuses on Millennial pet owners (those in the 18- to 34-year-old age group). The report analyzes trends in the growth of the population of Millennial pet owners, provides a demographic profile of Millennial pet owners, analyzes their attitudes toward their pets and highlights their pet care practices. The report highlights the consumer behavior of 18- to 34-year-old pet owners, including their buying power, retail channels favored for pet product purchases, shopping behavior and pet product preferences. It also includes an assessment of marketing approaches that work with Millennial pet owners.