Pet market trends: Signals from other pet services

Pet grooming products are seeing a drop in customer numbers. What does that tell us about pet market trends in other segments?

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Pet grooming supply purchases are down, even as other products continue on upward trends. What does this say about the state of pet ownership? (pavel siamionov |
Pet grooming supply purchases are down, even as other products continue on upward trends. What does this say about the state of pet ownership? (pavel siamionov |

Taking a backwards glance at the growth/decline in the pet-owner household customer base for various dog or cat product segments (excluding pet medications), pet grooming supplies are the biggest losers. That is, per Simmons Market Research consumer survey data, the number of U.S. households buying pet grooming supplies dropped from 21.8 million in 2011 to 18.1 million as of 2018, or by nearly 3.7 million (see Table 1). Over this same period, according to these Simmons data, the number of dog- or cat-owning households grew by 2.8

TABLE 1: The number of customers purchasing pet grooming supplies has decreased since 2011, even as other pet product purchases have gone up.

This trend might seem especially surprising because we are hardly relegating our dogs and cats to the wild outdoors, where hygiene and grooming status recede as priorities. Packaged Facts’ February 2019 Survey of Pet Owners data show that, overall, 59% of dog owners keep their dogs inside only (other than walks/letting out) and another 20% keep them mostly though not always inside. (By contrast, only 4% of dog owners keep them outside only.) In fact, the trended Simmons data by product segment underscore how we are humanizing our pets and bringing them into the household fold as members of the family, given that between 2011 and 2018 the two product segments gaining the most in customer base are pet beds (up by 3.4 million households) and cat treats (up by 3.1 million households, despite essentially flat cat ownership levels).

Why less spending in grooming?: a growing market of services

The explanation for reduced purchasing levels of pet grooming supplies lies beyond the packaged product shelves to the growing market for non-medical pet services.  Even setting veterinary services aside, Packaged Facts survey data show that over half of dog owners have used some type of non-medical pet service in the last 12 months (see Table 2). Among these services grooming takes the lead, with grooming services being used by 34% of dog owners overall and by 40% of dog owners with a household income of US$100,000 or more. In addition, do-it-yourself (DIY)/self-service dog washing stations, the more newfangled grooming option being leveraged by superstores to enliven (and make Instagrammable) the in-store experience, also draw a fair share of dog owners.Non-medical-dog-services-used

Table 2: A fair percentage of pet owners (15%) are using do-it-yourself or self-serve pet grooming as more stores offer stations and other services to make use of.

The increasing use of non-medical pet services (anchored by a new generation of smartphone apps) extends even to daily dog care needs such as pet walking and pet daycare. This development provides important perspective on the future of superpremium pet foods, especially in the age of mass premiumization.

As argued in Packaged Facts’ “U.S. Pet Market Outlook 2019­–2020,” marketers of pet specialty brands would be well advised to pay close heed to what’s happening with freshly prepared pet foods, as well as in-store with Petco’s JustFoodForDogs initiative. Based on human food trends, a big part of the future of superpremium pet food in particular lies in human-style, human-grade fare, and when it comes to human foods nothing resonates more strongly with U.S. consumers than “fresh.” 


More on Packaged Facts’ “U.S. Pet Market Outlook 2019-2020”

More on the latest pet market trends

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