By Ashley Carestia//February 1, 2024//
By: Ashley Carestia//February 1, 2024//
For dogs, toys are not a luxury, but a necessity, as they’ve become vital to our furry friend’s well-being.
The world of pet toys is constantly evolving, and 2024 will be no exception. As pet owners continue to prioritize the health and happiness of their fur babies, several trends and changes have emerged in the market.
It’s clear that Americans are spending more on pets as time goes on. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), Americans spent $136.8 billion on their pets in 2022, up from $123.6 billion in 2021. The APPA expects pet spending to keep its year-over-year increase, projected to hit $143.6 billion in 2023.
Fun fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) didn’t even quantify pet spending as its own category until 2013. Before then, it was lumped into “pets, toys, hobbies and playground equipment.” In fact, U.S. BLS data gives us a snapshot of pet spending trends, and it reveals that pet owners spent most on toys in 2023 at 74 percent than other pet related items.
Just like we eat with our eyes first, customers shop with their eyes first. So, it’s important for retailers to take care with how they display toys to effectively capture attention, offering a thoughtful variety of products that are sure to stand out on the shelf. Ideally, the products being marketed should offer unique selling points from each other and be displayed in an organized manner to make the shopping experience more efficient.
Don’t forget about your digital displays. Social media can be a powerful digital window display that draws customers to an online storefront or brick-and-mortar shop. When it comes to shopping destinations, online retailers are the top choice for 70 percent of pet owners. Approximately 63 percent of shoppers will support local pet stores, while only 23 percent plan to visit national chain pet stores for their pet holiday shopping, according to a recent 2023 MarketWatch survey.
Take advantage of social media to highlight different toys in the category. This can include posting demos of store associates or owners using the toys with their own dogs while discussing the benefits or features that make the toy their pups’ favorite.
Most dogs love toys. They shake, catch, roll, chew and cuddle with them. Toys also stimulate a dog’s brain, keep them from getting bored, help burn energy and comfort them when they’re nervous. However, not every dog likes every kind of toy. In addition, not every toy can survive even a single play session with a determined pet.
If your cultured canine prefers a “ruffined” playtime, one of my all-time favorites is the Woof Clicquot Pawty Set by Haute Diggity Dog. It’s an interactive plush toy that has smaller toys hidden inside of the main toy, which is contained in its chic trunk. It is perfect for small dogs and provides everything a pooch could pant for!
“Look for quality toys and ones that are made well and safe for our furry loved ones,” said Christina Calautti, owner of Speck’s Pet Beverly Hills. “The best types of toys are ones that are relatable to our pets’ personalities. Ones they can easily take cute photos with and share with their friends and family.”
Even a dog that loves squeaky toys or balls isn’t impressed with every one of them. Some toys will hold a dog’s attention for just a short time while others will quickly become a favorite. Consumers are looking at toys today in a much different way than ever before. Instead of fun and frills, they want something that will be engaging, durable and easy to use.
Treat dispensers, snuggle mats and puzzle games have quickly become favorites among many consumers. Most toys are relatively easy to figure out; squeak a squeaky toy, chase a ball, or chew a bone, however, some complicated toys do require a dog to work a little harder. Many dogs enjoy the challenge, but others might get frustrated. Always inform your customers to choose toys based on their pup’s personality and interests.
One product that mixes treats and toys together is Pupsicle by Woof. Jodalee Tevault, owner of Pixie Sticks Dog Boutique describes it as being “very popular” with her customers, adding that “people want healthy treat options for their pets, and this is a treat and a toy that keeps their pup busy for around 40 minutes.”
We know a lot goes into picking out the right toy. At minimum, consumers want something fun that their pup can’t get enough of, but just remember the best toys are also enriching, vet-approved and durable (up to a point, at least).
A successful fashion model for 25 years, Ashley Carestia also is founder/CEO of Bark Fifth Avenue, a luxury retail boutique and brand. She has earned the respect of her colleagues through arduous work and dedication, being awarded the Small Business of the Year Award by the Atlanta Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the Women of Influence award from Pet Age and Entrepreneur of the Year by Women in The Pet Industry.