From supermarkets to D2C, animal care is booming

Whether it’s Walmart or Wagable, Chewy or Cat Person, the mix of retailers and service providers looking to nibble the $ 100 billion pet care industry has never been also big. With around 11 million more pet owners today than before the pandemic, the trend is not only expected to increase, but it will also likely change as legions of dog and cat owners begin to return to their homes. previous routines.

“We are optimistic for the coming year, projecting [pet care industry] growth of 5.8%, well above the historical average of 3-4%, ”said the CEO of the American Pet Product Association (APPA) king steve said of the group State of the Industry Report, which highlighted a year of record sales that exceeded $ 103 billion.

As the COVID era has brought unprecedented changes for individuals and businesses, for most of the pet care industry, it has been a year of adaptation and growth.

“The past year has presented a multitude of challenges that have led consumers across the country to turn to their pets for comfort and companionship,” King said. “It’s interesting that the product trends we’re seeing in the pet care community mirror those of consumers: a desire for a healthier lifestyle, an increased focus on fitness, the use of supplements for better well-being and technology playing a more important role in everyday life.

With the exception of groomers, dog walkers and kennels, which saw a sharp 21% drop in business during COVID, this year is expected to see widespread sales gains, albeit at lower growth rates than recent record levels.

Pet food and treats, which accounts for about 40 percent of total category revenue, will grow another 5 percent this year, up from nearly 10 percent growth in 2020, according to the report. , veterinary care and products, which account for about a third of total sales, are expected to increase by around 3% this year, after registering an increase of more than 7% during the pandemic.

Supplies, over-the-counter medications, and live animals (like fish or hamsters) are expected to rise nearly 6% this year, just behind the 7.4% rebound forecast for the grooming and walking category.

Like an annuity

With a total addressable market of 63.4 million dog owners and 43 million cat owners, it’s no surprise that the pet care industry is attracting dozens of new entrants, as well as a urgency and renewed concentration among existing actors. Between surgical and routine vet visits, food and treats, boarding, vitamins, grooming and toys, the APPA said the average dog owner spends around $ 1,400 per year on her puppies, the cost of owning a cat being pegged at around $ 900 per year – and most owners have multiple pets.

According to Petco CEO Ron Coughlin, the combination of new and existing pet owners who are increasingly devoted to their furry friends and eager to provide them with the best food and care has created a powerful long-term dynamic. term that will survive the pandemic.

“For our company, [this trend] provides an annuity. It’s not like a home gym that you get and then you don’t get another for five or 10 years. You’re going to have to feed, groom, and vaccinate this pet for the next decade, so that’s an annuity to our business, ”Coughlin told investors following his company’s first earnings report in March, after his business. IPO in January.

The fact that pets and their owners have had a year to get used to their new routines, and it seems a lot of people have come to love them. According to research conducted for animal pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim, as much as pets made the pandemic bearable, they also changed people.

At this point, Boehringer Ingelheim’s survey found that 55% of pet owners said they would feel guilty when they returned to work, and 38% said they were considering having a second cat. or dog to keep their existing pet company if they do. . Additionally, 13% said they changed careers during the lockdown due to having a pet.

Big dogs vs. small dogs

Seizing this shift in consumption, mega-retailers such as Walmart are increasing and refining their exposure to the pet trend, as the big box retailer started offering last fall. new services, including insurance for pets, dog walkers and pet sitters, and then, last week, launched a new line of premium private label dog and cat food.

“We are constantly evolving to meet customer needs and support new trends, and the humanization of pets continues to grow,” said Melody Richard, vice president of companion animals at Walmart. blog post. “We treat our pets as we would any other member of our family, which means giving them premium, high-quality products that help promote health and well-being. “

This humanizing factor not only plays into providing animals with better quality foods and nutritional supplements, but also drives lifestyle changes, as evidenced by the growing number of people who expect to bring their pets with them wherever they go.

“If you take a look at some hotel chains you will see that they are literally advertising dog friendly hotels, so I think there is something to that. It’s not just about outdoor dogs anymore, ”said Debby Richman, the founder of Wagable, a new subscription service that ships an organized box of seasonally appropriate goodies each month. “When you see the advertisements for dog destinations, you see it’s not about the dog or the kennel, it’s about the person with their dog. “

As pet owners actively discuss pet products and services with each other, the rising trend of “dogonomics” (or “the cat economy”, if you prefer) is fueled by herself.

“Now that people have enjoyed their dogs, whether they are adopting them or staying home during COVID, people are absolutely discovering new opportunities to spend time with their dogs, both indoors. their home and away, ”Richman said. “One of the wonderful things that happens with dog owners is that they love to share and comment on dogs and their experiences on social media.”



About the study: The AI ​​In Focus: The Bank Technology Roadmap is a research and interview report examining how banks are using artificial intelligence and other advanced IT systems to improve credit risk management and other aspects of their operations. The Playbook is based on a survey of 100 banking executives and is part of a larger series assessing the potential of AI in finance, healthcare and others.

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