The petfood industry is one with the
widest of audiences to market to. Nearly every demographic that may come to
mind has pet owners among it, and each is deserving of the time and effort (and
money!) it takes to make its members feel like they’re being spoken to
personally. But how best to use those budgeted marketing dollars, and who best
to spend them on?
Baby Boomer generation generally refers to
those born between 1946 and 1964—the first babies in this group were born in
the wake of the end of World War 2. Today, the oldest Boomers are in their late
60s, and the youngest among them will turn 50 this year (2014). According to
the US Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, today this generation
makes up 28% of the US population. They are also the most affluent and
largest-growing segment of pet parents.
According to the AARP, 36% of those in
the US who are 50 or older own dogs. Twenty-four percent in that demographic
own cats, and 7% own some other pet.
“Baby Boomers are the generation
responsible for humanizing our pets, to the point that over 90% of Americans [now]
consider them to be family members,” says Kristen Levine, president of Fetching
Communications, PetPR.com and Pet Living. “Essentially, they helped to bring
pets from a dog house or porch in the yard, to sharing all the comforts of home
indoors. As a whole, they control approximately 65%â€“70% of the US net worth,
and they have US$2.5 trillion dollars in spending power.”
Boomers are using that power to outspend
younger pet parents and ensure their furry family members are well taken care
of. Seventy-three percent of Boomer pet owners spend US$50 or more per month on
pet supplies, including petfood. “The average Boomer sees their pet as an
extension of themselves,” says Levine. “They may be empty nesters who still
want to nurture, love and care for someone. A pet fulfils that need.
“Also, the divorce rate among boomers is
50%, so many are single or starting new relationships," she says. “Pets are
wonderful companions and silent confidants to boomers going through these
transitions in life. They treat their pet the way they’d treat their children.
They want what’s best for their pet and they typically have the time and
financial resources to do so. They are more likely to feed their pet a premium
or super premium diet, give them the best veterinary care, possibly specialty
veterinary care, and they are more likely to use luxury pet services such as
grooming, spas and doggy day care.”
According to a 2013 Vibrant Nation (an
online community for women over 50) survey, “Pet Owner Survey 2013,” 100% of
respondents considered their pets to be full members of the family—a bold
statement of Boomer pet interests. Pet parents who responded to the survey are
interested in premium petfood, products and services, with 46% wanting better
nutrition for their pets and 12% wanting better-quality petfood overall.
clear that Boomers have a market presence
to be reckoned with—but what’s the best way to get through to them? According
to the AARP, 92% of adults ages 50 and up in the US watch TV weekly—86% have
watched cable and 15% have watched premium channels—but that’s not the only way
to reach them. A full 90% of Boomers use the Internet, and 52% have interacted
with a brand online. Their preferred method of communication with a brand
online is through that brand’s website (98%).
On the other end of the spectrum, even
more traditional media isn’t off the table when it comes to reaching Boomers. “While
Boomers are the fastest-growing digital marketing audience, they are still, in
many instances, more likely to rely on traditional media for information, such
as print newspapers, magazines, television and radio,” says Levine. “However,
70% of Boomers use social media on a daily basis, so marketers can expect to
engage with boomers online.
“Boomers like to research before
purchasing and will educate themselves, often online before making purchasing
decisions,” she says. “They appreciate coupons, discounts and loyalty programs.
The best ways to reach Boomers include making content available online, email,
television, print publications and in store merchandising/POP. Younger boomers
are more digitally engaged, so there’s not necessarily a single ‘best way’ to
reach them all.”
Boomer market, like all others, is aging.
But they’re closer than anyone else to the age (70) when pet ownership begins
to sharply decline. Still, the long-term Boomer outlook has potential. “Today’s
boomers are anywhere from one to 20 years away from exiting the role of pet
parenting,” says Levine. “This gives marketers a healthy, long-term outlook, at
least for the younger half of boomers, to keep them spending in our market. But
it would behoove the pet food industry and other areas of the marketplace to
help to find ways to keep pets and boomers together after age 70.
“How can we make pet keeping more
convenient, affordable and enjoyable as people age? The benefits of the human
animal bond are so valuable as we age, so it would be terrific for all parties
involved—pets, pet lovers and the pet industry—if we can find ways to keep this
winning combination together, longer.”