Editor’s Note: Last year one of our most popular trends posts was about the pet industry. With pets in 69 million homes in the United States alone, the pet industry attracts many small businesses. So we invited the author, Laura Bennett, CEO of Embrace Pet Insurance, back for this guest post to update us on pet industry trends in 2007.
By Laura Bennett The 2007 economics for small businesses will be affected by a continuing increase in pet-related spending, focusing on improving pet health, trading up to quality for pet accessories and food, and an about turn on donations to pet-related charities. Trends include:
1. Growth in unique pet goods. The American Pet Products Manufacturers’ Association (APPMA) estimates that pet goods and medicines spending will grow 6.9% to reach $9.3 billion in 2006 (out of a total of $38.4 billion in overall pet industry expenditures). Much of the growth continues to come from the newer pet items such as pet deli snacks, toys, luxury items, and convenience accessories such as programmable feeding and watering stations, warming mats, and self-cleaning litter boxes. High-end specialty pet stores continue to thrive despite competition from the big box stores as passionate pet owners look for selection, style, and a unique shopping experience.
2. Growth in pet services such as grooming, boarding, pet photography, dog walking, and pet sitting. More than $2.7 billion dollars will be spent on pet services in 2006 according to the APPMA, which will likely continue to grow at around 8% for 2007. More pet owners will pay for these services as it is becoming socially unacceptable in some cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, to leave your dog alone during the day or your cat alone for the weekend. We also predict that we will see more pet services partnering together (or perhaps merging together) to support a pet through its life, such as breeders (birth), and groomers, doggie daycare, pet hotels, and pet insurance (lifetime services), and pet trusts and cremations/burials/memorials (for a pet’s death).
3. Growing interest in pet health care. This includes non-invasive surgeries, human medical devices and services being applied to pets, super-premium foods aimed at specific ailments, and alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, massage, and behavioral therapies. High end diagnostics, such as MRIs, will become more widely available for pets, with the price dropping accordingly. Online veterinary pharmaceuticals will become more main stream. Pet lovers want, and are demanding, the same treatment options for their pets as they can get for themselves.
4. Continued steady increase in pet insurance. The estimated 2006 market size is approximately $200 million, and is estimated to continue to grow by 25% to reach $250 million in 2007, according to the 2005 Packaged Facts “Pet Insurance in North America: The Market and Trends in the U.S. and Canada” report. While our prediction of one of the established companies being acquired in 2006 did not come true, it is only a matter of time before a large insurance company buys its way into the pet insurance arena. More and more employers continue to join the ranks of those who offer pet insurance as a voluntary benefit and at least one pet insurance company plans to start mass media advertising in 2007, increasing consumer awareness of pet insurance.
5. More pet-friendly environments. These environments pop up in places such as hotels (Starwood and Loews), restaurants (the Flying Fig in Cleveland, Ohio), and shopping centers (Stony Point Fashion Park in Richmond, Virginia) causing pet lovers to steer their business to where their pets are welcomed. Florida passed a doggie dining law in 2006 and other cities such as Houston are considering a similar move.
6. Philanthropy returns to the pet world. The events of September 11, the 2004 Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the war in Iraq all attracted outpourings of charitable donations to the affected areas, diverting funds from smaller pet-related charities. While it will take time for donation levels to turn around, pet parents are doing good while catering to Fluffy’s every need as more and more pet-related companies are donating a portion of their sales to pet-related charities.
The business environment will start to become more challenging as a multitude of new players enter the market. Savvy small businesses will take advantage of change to successfully place themselves uniquely in the market. Trends here include:
7. Increased competition from larger players. Larger companies are beginning to recognize the economic potential of the pet industry. Target and Walmart are both expanding their pet selection and using pets in their advertising. Petco and PetsMart continue to grow rapidly, increasing their total number of stores by over 160 stores in 2005, which is projected to continue in the coming years according to their annual reports. These companies are moving into the full service arena if they aren’t there already, to encourage customer loyalty.
8. Large companies buying smaller players or interacting with small businesses behind the scenes, via monetary investment and/or marketing alliances. Not only are the more obvious pet-related giants, such as Purina, Hills, and Iams (for example, Iams owns an 8.9% interest in Veterinary Pet Insurance) engaged in this activity, but also other more surprising companies such as paper product giant Kimberly Clark, which is very interested in expanding its revenue stream into the supermarket pet aisle.
9. Increased online sophistication from new pet-related businesses in ecommerce, design, and usability. Traditionally, small business sites have been set up by pet lovers with little thought on design, target audience, and content. Newer players, such as Urbanhound and WagginTails noted last year, and Pawspot, a pet sitting community new this year, are beginning to be more sophisticated in design and ecommerce, reaching their target audience via web-site usability, SEO, paid search, and word of mouth.
10. More meaningful pet-related blogs. Blogs, written by both corporate players and evangelists, will become more prevalent, more widely read, and will have a significant influence on driving traffic and sales to smaller niche players. New blogs in 2006 include Scratchings and Sniffings, sponsored by Purina, and the Embrace Pet Community blog, part of the broader Embrace Pet Community sponsored by Embrace Pet Insurance.
And one final bonus trend that indicates the sentiment of the pet-related customer…
11. Pet adoptions continue to grow. Pet adoptions grow as the adoption network becomes more sophisticated, structured, and effective. In 2006, Petfinder, the largest online adoption facilitator, was acquired by the TV channel, Animal Planet in order to diversify the company’s pet-related revenue stream. Meanwhile, the number of American Kennel Club (AKC) pedigree dog registrations will continue to drop (over 21% from 2000 to 2005 according to the AKC) as pet lovers look to rescue those in need rather than buying purebred dogs and cats.
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About the author: Laura Bennett is the CEO of Embrace Pet Insurance. Over her career working in the insurance industry in Dublin, Ireland, and Toronto, Canada, she eventually landed in the United States where along with Alex Krooglik, the two of them founded Embrace Pet Insurance to combine their love of pets, the desire for entrepreneurship, and Laura’s expertise in the insurance industry. Laura also writes a blog on pet-related issues, the Embrace Pet Insurance blog.
I have noticed the recent trends in pet health insurance. It is offered through the AKC as well. I have also been surprised by the number of growing pet friendly environments. They are now welcomed at many hotels. I was able to vacation in the Adirondacks last spring in a rented chalet that was pet friendly. I was also able to include my pet on one of our boating excursions on Raquette Lake up there. It truly added to the enjoyment of my vacation and I will consider returning again because of that. And in the last 5 years the state of Pennsylvania has started a test program and created several state park camp grounds that are pet friendly. It’s a fact that our pets are an important part of our lives.
I’m not sure that I’ve ever liked being part of a statistic, but I believe my new business, started this past Monday, falls under #3. I hope to see a continuous increase in the number of sucessful businesses that provide invaluable services to companion animals and their owners!
I sure hope the “Growth in Unique Pet Goods” is true. I actually just started a Unique Dog Blog and am hoping it will take off. I’ve noticed that pet owners are really into pampering their furkids now. Clothing for dogs is skyrocketing. Just look at the dog profiles on Dogster.com. I offer a report on the “Top Ten Cheap and Easy Ways to Pamper Your Pet.”
Like Michelle said, I’m not sure about being part of a statistic either, but I believe my business falls under quite a few of these even though it’s not necessarily the positive side of pet ownership (pet urns).
It’s good news to hear Chris’s comment about the growing trend of “pet-friendly environments.” At PetTravelCenter.com, we’re constantly partnering with hotel chains, campgrounds, RV parks, and other places that welcome pets all over the world to provide these resources for the millions of pet owners who wouldn’t dream of leaving their special members of the family behind.
Hey, I was a businessman from China, we launch a pet in a joint procurement system, Beijing and Shanghai have started operation, we have some good channels to promote pet products So here we have excellent manufacturer of pet supplies, please contact us. I wish you happiness
The best part of having a pet is that you can spend some time with it. You are living alone and you do not have anyone to talk to, a pet can be a great alternative. However, looking at the trends, I can see that having a pet is becoming pretty costly in USA these days.
Pet Travel Center
It’s refreshing to see manufacturers stepping up to offer safer and better quality products in the pet travel segment. They’ve realized that just as you need special products to make getting around with children easier, your pets are no exception. The more innovative, multi-functional or multi-featured, the better.
The Pet Industry is Booming and does not show signs of slowing down.I have a Patent Pending on A new product for extra small to medium size pets. I’m recieving great opinions from Pet Boutiques and other Pet Stores.In process of having this fashionable female loving product Licensed.It is Mat and Bowl Holders.I have good report from Wesconsin University Innovation Service Center,and am a member of Tx Inventors Asso.I’m looking forward to to seeing the faces of Pet lovers when they see this so cute,elegant product.My inspireration came from my little Shih Tzu Nina. Desoto, Tx.
Our pets have in many cases become our children. pet photography, pet dental care, and pet days care have all really taken off in the past few years. Growing up I never had my dogs teeth cleaned, portraits were a snapshot with an instamatic and day care was for kids. On our upcoming trip our dog’s boarding will cost as much as our hotel – but we think they’re worth every penny!
I am disgusted by this fad of elevating pets to the levels of children and other people. Pets are just animals, for crying out loud!! Animals are less important than people. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why that’s true. It’s very disturbing to see products for pets that look identical to products for babies and older children. Today’s pet owners have lost their minds, pampering mere lower species beasts. America’s pets live better than many of the world’s people!! I know it’s tempting to exploit sappy owners, since they have a money is no object” mentality when it comes to their stupid animals, but in the long run, it’s bad for society. No good can come from elevating dumb animals to the status of children.
This message is for Sam. I am disgusted by your comment. You comment makes me wonder if in your real life you do not have the ability to love or have compassion for others, human or animal. Animals are living, breathing, caring creatures who are abused by people like yourself who don’t appear to understand their own ignorance.
when fashion goes to the dogs…
I am excited for the growth in the pet industry especially when it comes to doggie fashion… and how we can be sustainable and give back. I own a doggie clothing line that designs/creates unique one-of-a-kind vintage doggie tees made from vintage, recycled and discounted clothing. They are casual comfort with an attitude.
Anthony Bromley, President
Pet care givers can take fido on Vaction at pet friendly hotels. Please tell eveyone to check this site. They are doing some great things to help
My name is Anthony Bromley the President of My Pet Travel.com
My Pet travel is the leading pet friendly hotel booking site, and locator on the internet that can book a pet friendly hotel real time online. My Pet Travel has the backend connectivity to over 44,000 pet friendly Hotels worldwide direct.
My Pet Travel.com has pet friendly hotels, pet friendly beaches, pet friendly parks, pet friendly restaurants, also the leach law for 52 States and Canada. Also we are working with the American Animal Hospital Association and Critter Sitters so people can locate pet care facilities, and Critter Sitters near by every hotel.
My Pet Travel will assist people in planning there next trip with there pets – No more leaving your pets behind.
My Pet Travel is proud donor of the Humane Society, ASCPCA, Dalmatian rescue, and the Busch Wild Life Foundation.
Proceeds from our website will go back to these organizations. We believe in giving back and helping animals that’s in distress.
Our Organization is developing a funding program that will help families that cannot afford pet insurance, or have the money to take care of there sick pets. We believe in helping pets to get healthy and well so they can live a long life.
Fido said I am so happy that petscripps has came out with an affordable petscription website. This is were I will be getting all my health product. Thanks susan and sandy for creating a competitive health product site. Woof Woof
All pet care giver please visit us at http://www.petscripps.com
Charley say my owners are the best in traning when they rescue me they trained me to be obeident and respectful. I am reffering my owner to all you pet lover to train your pet.
Please visit: http://www.charleyscaninecollege.org
We are kinda new to the pet business. We are looking to open a breeding, pet supply shop in the very near future. I was wondering if anyone had any information on reputable wholesalers. thanks Doug.
Roy Gilbert, Jr.
You should be thankful for dog walkers.
Dog walkers and dogs are the most reliable and inexpensive security resource in society. With their daily presence in our parks and on our nature trails, they are the eyes and ears of the community, frequently the first to discover crime and consistently a deterrent to it. We should be encouraging the presence of dog walkers and their dogs rather than implementing public policies that restrict and prohibit them.
A Tired Dog is a Happy Dog!!
The pet industry is growing by leaps and bounds and there are many available facets to it; i myself have recently started a pet business and am having very nice success with it. People DO care about their pets often as closely as they relate to their own children, and I’m a bit disturbed by the individual above who laments those who choose to love their pets greatly. “Dumb animals”, as he referred to them, have been responsible for many saved lives and perhaps a little education may do him a world of good.
Hi Laura! Good post. Thanks for the information. You can find more information about pets and related products in pets fact.com.
I know one site who will help you AND give this type of services.
I suggest you should try or visit this site.
I am saying this because I have also used this site.
Here i introduce before you all pet lovers a wonderful website..PawsHotel. This website will definately help you in protecting your pet ones while you are out for a lovely vacation. Just simply relax because your pet ones are safe and are cared properly…