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Strategy & Insights: Up Close

New Industry Report Says Gen Z Pet Parents the Ones to Watch

We were fortunate enough to attend Global Pet Expo 2024 in Orlando, Florida. It’s always a great time - lots of networking, innovative pet products (from pet food and furniture, to pet tech and belly bands for dogs), and of course, friends to catch up with. It’s also the time when we learn about trends in the pet industry and where we can expect to see growth.

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) recently reported that total pet industry expenditures in the U.S. hit $147 billion in 2023, with steady annual growth projected up to 2030. The release of this financial data coincided with the unveiling of the APPA's first quarterly report of the year, titled "State of the Industry: Strategic Insights from the National Pet Owners Survey 2024".

Expenditure in the pet industry, as per the APPA, is divided into four major categories: Pet Food & Treats; Supplies, Live Animals & OTC (over the counter) Medicine; Vet Care & Product Sales; and Other Services. The distribution of the actual sales in the U.S. market for 2023 was as follows:

  • Spending on pet food and treats totaled $64.4 billion.

  • Supplies, live animals and OTC medicines accounted for $32 billion.

  • Vet care and product sales saw sales of $38.3 billion.

  • Other services, including boarding, grooming, insurance, training, pet sitting and walking, and all other services excluding veterinary care, totaled to $12.3 billion.

Six key takeaways from the report include the following:

  • Despite the changing economic landscape, the pet industry remains robust, contributing $303 billion to the economy in 2023, up 16% from $260 billion in 2022.

  • Pet care dominates the fast-moving consumer goods category, outperforming even grocery and dairy sectors, both during and prior to COVID-19.

  • The proportion of households owning pets has returned to pre-pandemic levels, though the total number of pet-owning households has risen over time.

  • The post-COVID era has seen a shift towards an omni-channel buying approach, balancing between physical stores and online platforms.

  • While Millennials continue to represent the largest group of pet owners, the shopping behaviors of Gen Z are reshaping how pet products are marketed and purchased.

  • With a preference for visual media, younger generations' product discovery habits are impacting top-of-funnel strategies for brands.

Research conducted by APPA indicates that pet industry brands that leverage emerging trends and target marketing efforts towards Generation Z pet owners are likely to excel in the market. “Millennial pet owners still account for more pet owners than any other generation, but the number of Gen Z pet owners is quickly rising,” says Ingrid Chu, Vice President of Insights and Research. “While brick-and-mortar is still a big driver of awareness of new pet products, social media is equally important among the younger generations. Gen Z looks to visual platforms like TikTok, YouTube and Instagram to learn about new pet products, telling us that pet brands will need to consider more visual media to reach their younger audiences.”

It’s an exciting time to be in the pet industry and we can’t wait to see what the next year will bring. What will you be doing to market to Gen Z and push these pet parents to choose your brand over your competitors?

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