3 Industry Trends to Watch in 2019
Smart tech, alternative therapies and pets eating more like their owners are three
trends to watch in the pet industry in 2019, according to Michelson Found Animals,
an animal welfare nonprofit organization. The organization’s survey of 1,000 dog
and cat owners found that as humans become more tech-connected and embrace
alternative health practices and diets themselves, these trends are extending to their
pets as well.
Intrigued by pet tech and its ability to give them a better grasp on their pet’s
health and wellness, pet owners are motivated to give pet tech a try. Of those who
do use health-related pet tech, they are interested in nutrition apps ( 47 percent), vet
telemedicine ( 46 percent) and fitness trackers ( 31 percent) to maintain the health of
their pets. More than half ( 53 percent) are interested in getting a pet tracking device
or a microchip ( 52 percent), and four in 10 ( 40 percent) are interested in pet-monitor-ing cameras. With one in four pet owners admitting they spend more on tech for their
pets than for themselves, the future of pet tech is very bright, according to the survey.
Pet owners who have tried alternative therapies themselves are likely to use them
WHY PET MARKETERS SHOULD TAP IN TO THE BOND
on their pets as well; therefore, it can be expected that pet applications will grow as
the human trend continues its explosive growth, the survey found. For instance,
cannabidiol (CBD)- and hemp-based products are a growing trend among humans,
and of those who have
used these alternatives
themselves, 74 percent
have used them on their
pets as well.
As people’s grow-
ing awareness of food’s
effect on health and
wellness leads them to
try new diets and eat-
ing plans, this trend is
expected to continue to
extend to their pets as
well. Of those surveyed,
45 percent admit to per-
sonally following a diet, and 70 percent of those admit to putting their pet on a spe-
cial diet too; for example, almost half of pet owners who eat organic feed their pets
organic too ( 47 percent versus 12 percent average).
MILLENNIALS AND GEN ZERS HAVE WITH THEIR PETS
The future of the pet industry in America lies in the
hands of millennial and gen Z pet owners, according to
a new report from market research firm Packaged Facts.
The firm estimates that the 57 million 18- to 39-year-old
pet owners account for 41 percent of all adults owning
pets. Over the past decade, gen Z and millennials accounted for more than half of the growth in the population of pet owners.
The findings were published in Packaged Facts’ report
Gen Z and Millennials as Pet Market Consumers: Dogs, Cats,
“These younger generations of pet market consumers
DOGS HELP CHILDREN RECOVER FROM STRESS, STUDY FINDS
are critical to the bottom line of pet product and service
marketers because the vanguard of the boomer gener-
ation is reaching the age when pet ownership declines
sharply,” said David Sprinkle, research director for Pack-
aged Facts. “Moreover, boomers will be succeeded by
members of gen X, who spend heavily on pet products
and services but are a relatively small population cohort.”
Opportunities abound for marketers to leverage the
fact that these pet owners are on the cutting edge of hu-
manization in their relationships with their pets. Pack-
aged Facts data reveal that eight in 10 gen Z and millenni-
al pet owners consider their pets to be part of their family.
One reason for the intense connection between mil-
lennials and their pets is that many of them view having
pets as a rehearsal for raising children. It’s the reason why
so many pet-owning adults under age 40 celebrate mile-
stones in their pets’ lives, from birthdays to obedience
class graduations to family holiday celebrations to play
dates with other pets.
Thus, one way for marketers to acknowledge the
unique connection between younger pet owners and their
pets includes merchandising items such as pet costumes
for Halloween and gifts for pets’ birthdays. It also means
highlighting opportunities for gen Zers and millennials to
buy on impulse and splurge on toys and treats, as three in
four pet owners in this age group agree “every once in a
while I like to ‘splurge’ on an item for my pets,” according
to Packaged Facts survey data in the report.
Part of the trend among young adults also translates to
these consumers seeking out products that keep their pets
healthy. Compared to pet owners in other age groups, in-
cluding gen Z, millennials are most likely to make a con-
nection between the foods and treats they serve their pets
and maintaining the health of their pets. For example,
millennials are most likely to express concern about their
pets having food allergies or intolerances and are more
likely to agree that high-quality pet foods are effective
for preventive health care. Perhaps even more important
from the perspective of marketers, 25- to 39-year-old pet
owners are more likely than those in other age groups to
claim that they are willing to pay more for pet food prod-
ucts that are more healthful for their pets.
A recently published study that was funded by The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) found that children experiencing stress who then interact with therapy
dogs benefit from improved mood and reduced anxiety.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology
and is titled The Influence of Interactions with Dogs on Affect, Anxiety and Arousal in Children.
Researchers from Yale University reported that unstructured interactions with a therapy
dog boosted children’s positive emotions following a moderate stressor compared with
children who received a soothing object (a soft blanket) or those who simply waited a
short time without intervention. Children who interacted with a dog also had reduced
anxiety compared with those who waited.
HABRI funded the study to better understand the emotional and physiological effects on children brought about by canine members of therapy dog teams. Studies have
previously evaluated the effects of dogs and handlers together, while this study examined the impact that a dog alone might have.
“The Yale team effectively spotlighted two important findings: that dogs, all by themselves, can improve children’s mood and ability to cope with anxiety, and that they can
do so as a therapeutic intervention for stress recovery,” said Steven Feldman, HABRI
The study included pre-teen children (ages 10-13) because they are particularly
susceptible to barriers to treatment such as perceived stigma, discomfort talking about
mental health problems, and wanting to cope independently, plus therapy dogs are
already in widespread
use for children of this
age group. The children
were randomized into
three groups: those who
played with a dog, those
placed in a tactile-stim-
ulation control group
with a soft blanket, and
those in a waiting con-
to a stressful task, chil-
dren who interacted
with a dog showed sig-
nificantly higher levels of positive affect than participants who received tactile stimula-
tion without any interaction or waited.
In addition, children who played with a dog had significantly lower anxiety scores
than participants in the waiting control condition. There was no statistical difference detected between those in the tactile-stimulation control condition and those who interacted with the dogs. Participants who interacted with the dogs did not differ significantly
from other participants in salivary cortisol, an indicator of physiological stress.