If you’ve heard doomsday scenarios from pet industry experts about the decline of the pet-loving Baby Boomer generation—coupled with the fact that pet ownership tends to drop among older people—take heart. Millennials have supplanted Boomers as the largest US pet-owning population, according to data released by research firm GfK during Global Pet Expo 2015. That means 35.2% of the US’ 75 million Millennials, defined by GfK as people age 18 to 34, own a pet, compared to 32.8% of Boomers.
While the American Pet Products Association’s (APPA) 2015-2016 National Pet Owners Survey (also released during Global Pet Expo) still puts Baby Boomers in the pet-owning lead at 37% of US households, the report highlights that 10% of US pet owners are new to ownership, equating to nearly 8 million new pet owners within the last year, the majority of which are Gen X and Gen Y (Millennials).
GfK’s data show 51.6% of all US households own a dog or cat; among Millennial households, the percentage rises to 57%, with another 20% reporting they intend to get a dog or cat. Further, pet-free Millennials are 39% more likely to own dog or cat in the future, GfK says, and are 77% more likely than any other generation to get a dog or cat while unmarried and not a parent. In other words, they’re becoming pet owners earlier in their adult lives while simultaneously putting off other, more traditional life changes.
For pet food manufacturers and marketers, probably the most positive findings from GfK indicate that 63% of Millennials agree pets should be pampered. Yet, they do shop differently than other generations of pet owners. On this, the GfK and APPA surveys mainly agree that Millennials:
Pointers, perhaps, for your future pet food product development?
More on Millennial pet owners
Debbie Phillips-Donaldson is editor-in-chief of Petfood Industry and Petfood Forum.
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