Report: Gen Z's preference for pets impacts retailer patronage

New data from pass_by reveals a generational shift in the U.S., with Gen Z's visits to pet retailers increasing while Millennials foot traffic is on the decline.

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The generational shift is redefining the landscape of pet retail for the foreseeable future said a new report from pass-by.
The generational shift is redefining the landscape of pet retail for the foreseeable future said a new report from pass-by.
ZigmarsBerzins |

Recent analytics from pass_by highlighted Gen Z’s noticeable impact on pet store traffic. New data into visits to pet stores across the U.S. revealed a generational shift in pet store patronage: while Gen Z's visits to prominent pet retailers have surged, Millennials are showing a contrasting trend, with their foot traffic on the decline, noted pass-by.

The increase in Gen Z traffic to pet stores like Petsmart, Petco and Pet Supermarket (some of the largest retail pet store brands in the U.S.) suggests a rising trend in pet ownership and care within this demographic. In contrast, the decreased foot traffic among Millennials might indicate shifting priorities or changes in how they choose to engage with the pet industry, said James Ewen, VP marketing with pass-by.

"As Gen Z comes of age and enters their prime pet-owning years, they're bringing a new level of energy and enthusiasm to the pet retail industry," said Ewen. "While Millennials may be drifting away, savvy retailers who cater to Gen Z's unique preferences and shopping habits could be poised for a new era of growth."

An AI-powered geospatial insights company, pass-by derives its data from in-store sensors, as well as 15 other unique datasets, capturing consumer foot traffic trends. This dataset is designed to offer a detailed view of changing consumer behaviors and preferences, enabling insights into generational shopping patterns.

The report noted that over the past five years, Gen Z's visits have risen, with Petsmart up by 1.3%, Petco by 1.89%, and Pet Supermarket by 1.65%. In contrast, Millennials have reduced their visits, with Petsmart seeing a -6.26% decrease, Petco a -6.86% drop and Pet Supermarket a -7.63% decline.

Ewen said these trends present a story about the evolving dynamics in pet retail, potentially influenced by broader economic, social and lifestyle factors impacting these generations.

Effective retail strategies to engage the Gen Z market

The generational shift witnessing the transition from Millennials to Gen Z is not just noticeable, but it’s redefining the landscape of pet retail for the foreseeable future, said Ewen. According to pass-by, here are three ways to address this generation's unique values and behavior patterns:

  1. Sustainability and ethical practices: Generational data shows young pet owners demand more than just ecofriendly and BPA-free products. They are drawn to brands that reflect their own dedication to conservation.
  2. Digital engagement: Gen Z is comfortable with navigating the online world. Recently, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) released its State of the Industry: Strategic Insights, which noted Gen Z is changing the way owners want to learn about and purchase pet products. APPA researchers predict that pet industry brands capitalizing on new trends coinciding with the emergence of Gen Z pet owners through targeted marketing efforts will outperform in the market. Think robust social media engagement, mobile-friendly online shopping platforms, and a seamless virtual shopping experience, added Ewen.
  3. Experiential retail: Gen Z isn't all about digital -- they show a preference for immersive brick-and-mortar shopping experiences as well. Enticing in-store experiences that curate a sense of community, social engagement and shared values with this generation can anchor loyalty and a steady stream of foot traffic to retail pet stores. Ewen recommends bridging the digital divide with tangibility by providing interactive product displays, pet-friendly events and educational workshops.

To see the full report, click here.

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