The future of the pet industry in America lies in the hands of Millennial and Gen Z pet owners. Market research firm Packaged Facts estimates that the 57 million 18- to 39-year-old pet owners account for 41% of all adults owning pets. Over the past decade Gen Z and Millennials accounted for more than half of the growth in the population of pet owners.
The findings were published in Packaged Facts' report Gen Z and Millennials as Pet Market Consumers: Dogs, Cats, Other Pets.
"These younger generations of pet market consumers are critical to the bottom line of pet product and service marketers because the vanguard of the Boomer generation is reaching the age when pet ownership declines sharply. Moreover, Boomers will be succeeded by members of Gen X, who spend heavily on pet products and services but are a relatively small population cohort," says David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.
There exists a range of opportunities for marketers to leverage the fact that Gen Z and Millennial pet owners are on the cutting edge of humanization in the relationships between pet owners and their pets. Packaged Facts data reveal that 8 in 10 Gen Z and Millennial pet owners consider their pets to be part of their family.
One reason for the intense connection between Millennials and their pets is that many of them view having pets as a rehearsal for raising children. It's the reason why so many pet owning adults under age 40 celebrate milestones in their fur babies' lives, from birthdays to obedience class graduations to family holiday celebrations to play dates with other pets.
Thus, one way for marketers to acknowledge the unique connection between younger pet owners and their pets includes merchandising items such as pet costumes for Halloween and gifts for pets' birthdays. It also means highlighting opportunities for Gen Z and Millennials to buy on impulse and splurge on toys and treats, since three in four pet owners in this age group agree "every once in a while I like to 'splurge' on an item for my pets," according to Packaged Facts survey data in the report.
Part of the pet parenting trend among young adults also translates to these consumers seeking out products that keep their pets healthy. Compared to pet owners in other age groups, including Gen Z, Millennials are most likely to make a connection between the foods and treats they serve their pets and maintaining the health of their pets. For example, Millennials are most likely to express concern about their pets having food allergies or intolerances and are more likely to agree that high-quality pet foods are effective for preventive healthcare. Perhaps even more important from the perspective of marketers, 25- to 39-year-old pet owners are more likely than those in other age groups to claim that they are willing to pay more for pet food products that are healthier for their pets.
Pet owners want a lot from their pet food brands. They want primary proteins that suit what they believe is best for their animal. They want grains or they don't. They want something customized, but it has to be easy to understand.
Constraints and crises, like those experienced in 2020, help drive innovation and sustainability offers context.