Dogs and cats are the undisputed heavyweights of the U.S. pet industry, but recent trends in the market for pet fish make this a segment on the rise. “Fish and Aquarium Products: U.S. Pet Market Trends and Opportunities,” a new report by market research firm Packaged Facts, reveals that the number of households keeping pet fish declined during the first half of the decade, but rebounded the past two years and has subsequently begun to see moderate sales increases recently. Sales of pet fish and aquarium products (including fish food, aquatic decor, tanks, etc.) approached $1.1 billion in 2016. The market is forecast to experience modest gains looking ahead to 2020.
One of the most important trends influencing market growth is the presence of children in the home. While it is generally true that households with children are more likely to keep fish than households without children, it is also true that the type of child or children in the household also makes a difference, according to Packaged Facts.
“We have already seen that the likelihood of fish ownership increases with number of children in the household. However, the largest difference has to do with child gender,” said David Sprinkle, research director of Packaged Facts. “While households with at least one male child in the house are more likely than average to own fish, households with at least one female child living in the household are significantly more likely to keep fish as pets. This difference is even more pronounced when there are only girls living in the household compared to households with only boys.”
The same trend holds true for reptiles as well, which, alongside fish, is the type of pet that one could argue is traditionally seen as more interesting to boys. On the other hand, the “cute and cuddly” hamsters and rabbits that perception and marketing tend to skew toward girls, are actually equally likely to be in households with boys as they are households with girls.
Clearly, there is an opportunity for both marketers and retailers of fish products to develop more marketing that appeals to young girls, which nicely aligns with the gaining momentum to increase interest and exposure to science topics for girls. An example would be aquarium nights organized with local Girl Scout troops that are sponsored by the marketer.