The future of the powerhouse pet food market lies with millennials. Consider this comment by David Lummis, lead pet market analyst for Packaged Facts, in a column for Pet Product News: “Much as computers have always been there for them, millennials know only a world where treating pets like fully entitled family members is normal, if not expected … and expensive.” (See https://goo.gl/8qvZW6.)
Indeed. Pets being part of the family is as familiar and ingrained for millennials – something they seldom think about, if ever – as are mobile phones, social media and the air they breathe. It’s second nature for them to feed their pets well and spend on pet food accordingly (https://goo.gl/lWbGG4).
The pet food market’s current strength, however, at least in the US, owes decidedly to baby boomers. Final 2015 data from the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics showed US pet food spending increased 22.5% over 2014, by US$5.4 billion, putting the total for last year at US$29.49 billion. Baby boomer (ages 55 to 64) spending grew the most, doubling from US$5 billion in 2014 to US$10.02 billion last year. The huge increase is partially explained by a 4.6% rise in the number of households headed by the age group, but they also spent 65.8% more and 15.6% more often (https://goo.gl/WYIjeG).
Older boomers (ages 65-74) also increased their pet food spending, up 32.7%, or US$1.13 billion, to US$4.59 billion. (Analysis and reporting of this data come from John Gibbons of PetBusinessProfessor.com.)
While millennial pet owners are growing in number, their spending on pet food is tempered by relatively lower incomes and new expenses as they establish their careers, buy homes and start non-furry families. Thus, US pet food spending among pet owners ages 25-34 dropped 29.2%, or –US$1.23 billion, ending up at US$2.99 billion in 2015.
Yet, highlighting the increasing influence of younger pet owners, people under age 25 had the second largest pet food spending increase, albeit from a much smaller base. Their spending grew by 99.2%, up to US$0.82 billion total – paving their way as potential heirs to boomers as future drivers of the pet food market’s ongoing success.