Generation X pet owners were a lost opportunity for the dog and cat food industry, reported David Sprinkle, publisher and research director at market analysis firm Packaged Facts, in Petfood Industry. Generation X, currently aged 35–49, has much lower dog and cat ownership rates than the heavily marketed-to baby boomer and millennial generational peaks.
The past decade of US pet ownership demographic data reveals that the number of dog-owning households with adults age 35–49 (the current Gen X) declined by 1.5 million (or 12 percent) compared to 2006, according to the Simmons Spring 2016 national consumer survey.
Over the last decade, if Gen Xers had followed the average pattern of other generations, such as millenial pet owners, there would be 7.7 million additional dog-owning households in the US. That would mean 19.1 million Generation X dog owners, rather than 11.4 million.
The same trend holds for Generation X cat owners. The number of cat-owning households with adults age 35 to 49 declined by 14% between 2006 and 2016.
If Generation X had followed the other generations’ average for cat ownership over the last ten years, there would be 2.7 million additional cat-owning households, or 10.6 million Generation X cat owners, rather than 7.9 million.
Home ownership and household income stand out as socioeconomic factors influencing US pet ownership demographic data. In 2016, compared to 10 years earlier, there are 1.8 million fewer home owners age 35–49 with pet dogs and 1.1 million fewer home owners in this age bracket with both pet dogs and pet cats.
Similarly, there are 2.2 million fewer age 35–49 home owners with middle-range incomes (US$50,000–US$99,999) who keep pet dogs, compared with 10 years earlier, and 2.4 million fewer home owners with working-class to upper-middle class incomes (US$25,000–US$99,999) who keep pet cats.
The only gains in Generation X dog ownership over the last decade are among those with a household income of US$100,000 or more. In the case of Generation X cat ownership, the gains among Gen Xers split between those with a household income of under US$25,000 and those with a household income of US$100,000 or more.
New shelter data casts doubt on whether the pet population and pet ownership are truly growing.
While the pandemic caused unprecedented suffering worldwide in 2020, the disruptions to dogs, cats and other pets adoption numbers may normalize in 2021.