Targeting Growing Pet Demographics
Can Offset Sluggish Advances in Pet
BY DAVID LUMMIS
For more than a decade, most of the dollar growth in the U.S. pet market has come from higher prices rather than increased volume sales, a feat achieved
primarily via the concerted efforts of pet marketers and
retailers to convert pet owners to premium products and
services. The results have not been too shabby.
From 2010 to 2016, total U.S. retail sales of pet products
and services surged from $62.68 billion to $80.34 billion,
an increase of 28 percent. But with the level of U.S. households with pets rising just 2 percentage points during that
time frame, from 53 percent to 55 percent, it’s clear that
overall growth in pet-owning households is contributing
only minimally to the dollar progress.
Pet population-wise, the news isn’t all bad. Between
2006 and 2016, the number of U.S. households with pets
grew a good deal faster than the total number of households, at 14. 6 percent versus 9. 5 percent, and there was
an even greater disparity between growth in the number
of households with versus without pets ( 14. 6 percent versus 3. 9 percent). During this period, the number of households with pets increased by 8. 5 million, while households without pets saw an increase of only 2. 1 million.
That said, growth in pet households appears to be
slowing. Although the percentage of households owning
pets grew from 53 percent in 2009 to 55 percent in 2011,
it stalled at that level except for a small uptick in 2015.
As a result, though the number of households owning
pets increased by 10. 4 percent between 2006 and 2011, it
increased by just 3. 8 percent between 2011 and 2016.
Figures such as these make it clear that, absent a stron-
ger and broader surge in pet ownership, it behooves pet
industry players to tailor their activities to the demo-
graphic ebb and flow, and there are some bright spots.
During the past decade, the overall profile of U.S. pet
ownership has shifted measurably, and certain changes
bode well for future market development. To a large ex-
tent, these 2006-2016 shifts are in line with demographic
changes in the U.S. adult population as a whole:
• The share of pet owners in the 35- to 49-year-old age
group has declined from 32 percent to 26 percent as gen-
Xers—the “baby bust” generation—ages. At the same
time, pet owners in the millennial and baby boomer
generations—as well as those in the 70 and over age
group—have increased in relative importance.
• The share of pet owners who are non-Hispanic white
has fallen from 80 percent to 73 percent, while the share
of pet owners who are multicultural (Hispanic, black
or Asian) has risen commensurately, from 20 percent
to 27 percent.
• The share of pet owners with a household income of
$100,000 or more increased substantially from 28 percent to 37 percent, while the under-$100,000 share fell
from 73 percent to 64 percent.
Based on these trends, now and for the foreseeable
future, the most promising pet market demographics
are millennials, multicultural Americans, especially Hispanic, seniors—a group that continues to swell thanks to
the aging of the boomer generation—and high-income
households. By identifying and meeting their needs, pet
industry participants can drive U.S. sales of pet products
and services to new heights—to the forecasted tune of
$100 billion at retail in 2021, per Packaged Facts.
Age 18-34 29% 31%
Age 35-49 32% 26%
Age 50-69 32% 34%
Age 70+ 8% 9%
(Hispanic, black or Asian) 20% 27%
Non-Hispanic white 80% 73%
Under $50,000 37% 32%
$50,000-$99,999 36% 32%
$100,000 or more 28% 37%
Percentage of Pet Owners by Selected
Demographic Group: 2006 vs. 2016
Source: Packaged Facts based on data from
Simmons Market Research
David Lummis is the lead pet-market analyst for Packaged Facts,
a division of MarketResearch.com. The statistics cited here are
drawn primarily from Packaged Facts’ new report, Pet Population and Ownership Trends in the U.S., 2nd Edition.