What’s trending now?
The pet economy is booming – premium food, luxury services, state-of-the-art healthcare, insurance policies – and it’s expected to grow even further. A major trend in this sector is the humanisation of pets or so called pet parenting. “Pets today are seen as substitute children, particularly by lonely, hard-working millennials and young couples who cannot afford to have kids yet,” says Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Manchester Business School.
These fur babies have transitioned from pets to companions who provide emotional support and are regarded as members of the family. The adoption of animals such as birds, fish and rodents has been on the decline, in favour of cats and smaller dogs which are more suited to urban living.
Why is it important?
Tremendous business opportunities exist in this sector. In 2018 in the US, $72.56 billion was spent on pets, a figure which surpassed the value of the combined GDP of 39 countries. This trend is not limited to the United States and Europe. Latin America has the highest percentage of pet ownership in the world: 80% of households own pets in comparison to 65% in the USA. Asia is also experiencing a pet boom, as is South Africa. According to Insight Survey’s South African Pet Care Industry Landscape Report 2017, pet ownership is on the rise due to the growing number of empty nesters, single professionals, couples who delay having children and even for security reasons.
An important demographic to consider are the millennials. Globally this is the generation which is spending the most on pets. There are currently 57 million adult pet owners under the age of 40 in the US. “Everyone wants their pets to be happy and healthy, but millennials want more human products for their pets,” said Mintel retail analyst Chana Baram. “Millennials see their pets as an extension of themselves.”
What’s the butterfly effect?
There has almost always been a segment of society in virtually every culture that pampered their pets. Traditionally this has been a small group but now the demand for luxury pet products and services is at an all-time high and it’s predicted this trend will continue to grow. Around two thirds of full-time workers in the UK own a pet and Mintel estimates the market for services which provide day care, pampering and health check-ups will see a 34% increase by 2023. The annual growth rate of the pet care industry in Asia from 2017 – 2022 is expected to be 8%, making this one of the few mass market industries seeing brisk growth.
The direction of the pet industry lies in the hands of millennial and Gen Z pet owners. These young consumers are discerning, distrusting of larger corporations and mass production in favour of smaller, more artisanal pet brands. They are looking for authenticity and integrity from the brands they support.
As the humanisation trend grows, pets will begin to lead lives increasingly similar to those of human children. Andreas Steinle of the German Future Institute estimates that “by 2050, it is expected that 75% of the world’s population will live in cities; pets and people could be competing for drastically reduced living space. More people will be living in cities and pets that are small and compatible with urban living will predominate.”
Dotsure is a South African online company that insures dogs, cats and exotic pets. In addition to cover for illnesses, it offers wellness benefits and accident cover.
Atfrits pet hotel and day care centre in Cape Town offers a variety of services including catio (cat cardio) and wellness treatments (physiotherapy and hydrotherapy). The overnight accommodation includes deluxe suites with artwork and live cameras to enable owners to check up on their pets from afar.
At the 2019 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in the US, cabinet company Wellborn introduced a multi-purpose laundry room with several pet features for the well-heeled. These include a dog shower and a grooming island with power outlets.
iCalmPet is music specially created and clinically tested for cats and dogs. It eases separation anxiety and noise phobias. The music is also available on a portable player.
Dogs are now getting their own gym equipment. The Go Pet Petrun is a treadmill available on Amazon for dogs of up to 20kg. It costs a whopping R9000 and is targeted at the luxury market.
The global hot spots?
The United States is the place where most of this is taking place, although Europe and Asia are not far behind.
By Faeeza Khan
Faeeza Khan is curious about the world around her and what the future holds. This is what attracted her to working in the trend space. As Communicator at Flux Trends, she manages the media appearances of the Flux trend experts and ensures that the broader public stays informed of Flux Trends research through social media. She is also involved in general operations and trend research.
She has a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design and her fashion endeavours have been entrepreneurial and ahead of the curve. Faeeza is also a math geek with a Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science and Statistics. She believes that learning is a lifelong process and that the more you know, the better you do.
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