Pets! Pets! Pets! The Pandemic Sweetheart

by | 30 April 2021

Throughout the pandemic, pet adoption agencies and shelters saw a 34% increase in pet adoptions. The popularity of pet companionship, significantly influenced by stay-at-home practices worldwide, saw households increase their family size with the addition of a cat or dog. Over 90% of pet owners surveyed by AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) acknowledge the physical and mental benefits of pet companionship, including combating feelings of depression, alleviating stress, and improving their overall physical fitness. And the growing trend toward guardianship has pet lovers considering the well-being and lifelong health implications of caring for their animals more seriously.

In the previous 18 months, several pet categories have experienced a boom in consumer engagement and product and service demands. This increased interest in pet welfare has the pet care industry rising to meet customers’ expectations for products and services that mirror their own standards.

One of the most popular segments of pet wellness is the trend toward natural pet food products. Prioritized by pet parents, earth-friendly options include raw food and plant-based proteins. The conscious consumer considering the impact of by-products on the environment will be pleased to hear of pet food manufacturers’ attempt to formulate cell-cultured meat. According to the Pet Food Industry, pet snacks marketed with sustainable claims saw a 70% increase in sales growth over the last 5 years.

The added benefit of a natural diet for pets is, of course, longevity. Eating healthy foods has proven to lengthen our lives, and with regular exercise, it’s likely to do the same for some pets. A dog’s life expectancy has reportedly increased from 10.5 years to 11.8 years over the last decade, and cats live well into their double digits. Many experts attribute this to the nearly 95% of guardians who treat their pets like family. When pet guardians’ concerns about the well-being of their pets flooded Chewy’s hotline, the pet retailer accelerated the launch of a Virtual Vet Service that provides customers with free veterinary counsel. Petco, known for its in-store, full-service veterinary hospitals, expanded its pet and wellness offering with Vital Care, an annual paid subscription model to provide pet parents with affordable routine wellness options.

Now that pets are integral members of one’s family and lifestyle, there is the question of what to do with them when you’re not at home. Businesses have begun to accommodate four-legged patrons to attract the two-legged ones. Retailers are launching pet carrier accessories for easy transport, canine clothing lines, and partnering with brands like Disney and Zara on specialty collections. With pet service and amenities like Scenthound, an emerging doggie day spa franchise, and Hi-BK, a doggie daycare, more widely available, leaving your pets home might not be the best option. And if PetCo is correct, taking your pet to work will become the norm–in a recent survey, 69% of U.S. workers want the optional benefit post-pandemic.

The pet industry exceeded expectations reaching $99 billion in revenue in 2020, with the industry continuing to see growth both in dollars and consumer engagement. Chewy.com reported $2 billion in sales in Q1 with an expected estimate of $9 billion for the year. The pet retailer has also seen a sizable increase in customer sign-ups, claiming an additional 5.7 million customer registrations within the last year.