Total spending on pet care in the UK is set to reach a record high of US$7.16 billion (Â£4.6 billion) in 2015, a 3% increase on 2014’s US$6.92 billion and a growth of 25% since 2010, according to reports.
Of the near-US$7 billion spent in 2014, UK consumers allocated US$5.57 billion to petfood and US$1.5 billion to non-food items such as grooming, day care, clothes and toys—expenses that speak to the ongoing trend of pet humanization. “Pet owners are increasingly treating their cats, dogs and even small mammals like members of their family,” said Gina Westbrook, director of strategy briefings at Euromonitor, during an interview with The Telegraph. “The opportunity to commercialize this trend into a vast range of goods and services—from dog beer to cat counseling, from pet weddings to 'social petworking'—is staggering for the company that can position itself to gain credibility among this growing demographic.”
According to Westbrook, there are three kinds of pet owners: mainstream humanizers, who account for roughly two-thirds of pet owners and opt for reliable premium pet brands; anti-humanizers, who make up 20%â€“30% of pet owners and choose smaller, ethical brands over the large corporations (and are also more likely to put their pets on wild, raw or organic diets); and extreme humanizers, who make up 5% of pet owners and tend to see their pet as an accessory or child substitute, spending money on designer outfits, exercise activities and extreme grooming treatments.
There are a number of reasons for this humanization, said Westbrook. "On the one hand, people are single and increasingly lonely, living in more 'dehumanized' societies," she said. "On the other hand, there is also the DINKS: Double Income No Kids. Couples delay marriage and the first child so pets are often the choice for their love and affection. In many emerging markets splashing on pets is a way to flaunt status and also a reflection of westernization."
Two-thirds of animal owners see their pets as beloved family members, according to Euromonitor data, and the humanization trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.