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September 2, 2014

“U.S. Pet Market Outlook, 2014-2015” reports that pet humanization has given rise to premium pet product shoppers across all platforms, and these consumers are influencing the industry.

“This is a trend where pet owners think of their pets as family,” said George Puro, Packaged Facts report author. “They are purchasing products that are similar to things that they might purchase for themselves.”

Their $73 billion projection includes pet products such as pet food and nonfood pet supplies, such as toys and chews, cat litter, bedding, housebreaking and clean-up products, houses and carriers, grooming products, leashes and collars, feeding/watering devices, and apparel. It also encompasses services, such as veterinary services and nonmedical pet services like grooming, boarding and training.

Pet humanization not only includes giving pets human-quality products, but also veterinary procedures like chemotherapy, MRIs and hip replacements, as well as supplements like glucosamine and omega-3 fatty acids.

Owners are also buying human-grade pet food containing super fruits, and designer beds, bowls and clothing. Finally, they are also purchasing luxury services like boarding options that are similar to hotel rooms.

“Manufacturers and retailers are really picking up on this trend,” said Puro. “We are seeing all sorts of products and services that are otherwise seen for humans offered for pets as well.”

For example, Merrick pet care has food with names like Cowboy Cookout and Grammy’s Pot Pie.

“That sounds like something that you might want to eat yourself,” said Puro. “They have special grooming now where they can do chalking and feathering with your dogs.”

Licensed gear is also part of the pet humanization trend.

“Their dog or cat doesn’t know anything about their favorite football team but certainly when they are dressing their pets in those things, they are humanizing them,” said Puro. ”If they are doing this for themselves and they are doing this for their children, why not do it for their pets?”

Packaged Facts surveys have tracked the emergence of premium pet food shoppers for years. In 2013, the survey found that 70 percent of pet owners would be willing to spend extra money to ensure the health of their pet. It also found that 30 percent of pet owners would prefer to shop at retailers that offer the best products available no matter what the increase in cost.

“What’s so fun about this is seeing all the creative ways that manufacturers and retailers are trying to engage pet owners,” said Puro. “They look at what pet owners are interested in and pick up on trends going on in the center aisle of a supermarket.”
According to the report, premium pet product shopping is most common among higher income households. U.S. households earning $70,000 or more account for 54 percent of pet market expenditure.

According to Packaged Facts, these consumers are responsible for a large share of the bill for premium pet products and services. These consumers are also more likely to have been less affected by economic downfalls and are recovering more quickly.

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