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Pet Food Market Trends
on September 12, 2016

Gen X: The great lost pet market opportunity

Generation X households are following their own, decreasing trends when it comes to dog and cat ownership.

A demographic look back to 10 years ago confirms that Generation X—the generation currently aged 35–49, and sandwiched between the larger and much-marketed-to Boomer and Millennial generational peaks—is the great lost opportunity in the pet market.

Over the last 10 years, according to the Simmons Spring 2016 national consumer survey, the US population of dog-owning households increased dramatically by 10.8 million (or 28%), to reach 49.4 million. Generationally, however, the pattern was erratic: 

  • The number of dog-owning households with adults age 18–34 (the current adult Millennials) increased by 5 million (or 54%) compared to 2006.
  • The number of dog-owning households with adults age 35–49 (the current Gen X) declined by 1.5 million (or 12%) compared to 2006.
  • The number of dog-owning households with adults age 50–69 (the current Baby Boomers) jumped by 6 million (or 47%) compared to 2006.

Gen X pet-owning decline

Over the last decade, had Gen Xers followed the average pattern of the other generational cohorts, there would be 7.7 million additional dog-owning households in the US—that is, 19.1 million Gen X dog owners, rather than 11.4 million (see Table 1).

dog-owning-households

Table 1: Generation X households are the only generational demographic to see a decline in dog ownership from 2006 to 2016.

The growth in the number of cat-owning households over the last 10 years has been far more moderate, and the generational patterns for changes in cat ownership vary significantly from the patterns for pet dogs. Even so, the same trend holds for (and only for)…

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