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Global Pet Expo: Attendees Need a Plan at This Year’s Trade Show


Global Pet Expo, the pet industry’s premiere event, is back, live and in person. The show switched to a virtual event last year due to COVID, breaking a string of 63 consecutive live shows (since 1958). The 2020 show was also affected by COVID, as last-minute travel restrictions forced many Chinese exhibitors to cancel.

How important is a live event? According to John Gibbons, The Pet Business Professor, it is critical to the pet industry because of the public’s attitude toward pets and pet products. Pets became an integral part of our families in the 1990s as pet owners became pet parents. This relationship has grown even stronger in recent years as we now increasingly personify our pets. This is why a live show is important. Pet shows are primarily focused on pet products. Studies have shown that over 60 percent of consumers prefer to make initial buying decisions on pet products in person. This makes pet products second only to fresh groceries in this consumer behavior. This preference applies to all pet products buyers, not just consumers. The retailers and distributors attending Global Pet Expo and SuperZoo want to see and touch a new product before they buy. Obviously, live shows are not just important, they are critical to the continued growth and strength of the pet industry.

There will be changes this year as the APPA and PIDA are doing everything possible to ensure the safety and comfort of all attendees. If you are not at serious risk, then it is an event not to be missed. Gibbons takes the following look at what awaits attendees of Global Pet Expo 2022.

The show is smaller this year, both in square footage (-20 percent) and number of exhibitors (-30 percent) but there is still a bounty available, more than enough to satisfy the needs and wants of every buyer that attends. Here are some relevant facts.

  • 704+ booths – as of February 20, but more are being added daily.
  • More than 270,000 square feet of exhibit booth space (Not counting the 45,000-square-foot new product section).
  • 20 x 10 is again the most popular size – 253 (35.9 percent), reflecting the need for more space.
  • Booths are larger – the “average” booth is over 379 square feet, up 16 percent from 2020.
  • Size matters – Booths 300 to 800 square feet (31 percent) occupy 41 percent of the space. Those over 1000 square feet (7 percent) cover 34 percent.

Will you see any new exhibitors or is it the usual group? There have been four live pet trade shows from 2019>21 – two Global Pet Expo events and two SuperZoo events. Of the current exhibitors at Global Pet Expo 2022:

  • 218 (31 percent) – Did all four other shows
  • 511 (73 percent) – Did at least one other Global Pet Expo
  • 193 (27 percent) – Are new to Global Pet Expo
  • 120 (17 percent) – Have done no other shows; new to the industry

The percentage of exhibitors new to Global Pet Expo this year is about the same as 2020’s 29 percent. There is plenty of “New” to see.

Specially designated “Floor Sections” at Global Pet Expo account for 41 percent of booths, about the same as 2020 (40 percent). Due to the big drop in booth count, the best way to compare Global Pet Expo 2022 to previous years is by share of booths.

  • Natural – 180 booths. The number of booths in this section is actually up from 174 in 2020. The share has skyrocketed up to ¼ of all booths, reflecting the growing strength of the natural trend in our whole society.
  • Boutique – 21 booths. After a brief resurgence in 2020, the booth share of this area fell sharply. Boutique is essentially the opposite of Natural and more discretionary in a country that is increasingly focused on “needs”.
  • Aquatic – 15 booths. Popularity of this category continues to trend down.
  • First-Time Exhibitors – 74 booths. The share is up but most of the 193 first timers chose the regular floor or another special section. Global Pet Expo is a “must-do” for new companies.
  • International – No international pavilions this year, except a two-booth Canadian. In 2020, before the last-minute travel restrictions, there were 268 exhibitors from 26 countries outside the U.S. Thus, COVID is still affecting travel.

There are large numbers of exhibitors in the “regular” floor space who would qualify for inclusion in these sections. You need to “work” the whole show to ensure that you get a full view of the product categories of interest to you. Gibbons has created a Global Pet Expo Exhibitor Visit Planner that allows attendees to plan their floor time by targeting the exhibitors with products of interest. The Global Pet Expo 2022 SuperSearch will be regularly updated now through the show with last minute changes. Now, let’s take a look at the results from this year’s research on exhibitors’ product offerings.

First, we’ll compare Exhibitor Types – By function: By Animal type (Numbers are based assigned booths as of February 20, 2022)

Dogs and Cats had a slight flip in share, but the other 10 categories basically maintained existing gain/loss trends.

  • Dogs Still Rule – They are still in about 83 percent of all booths. Five out of every six booths are selling dog products.
  • Cats are also maintaining their share. Cat Products are offered by 56 percent of exhibitors. Up from 40 percent in 2014.
  • Fish/Aquatic – This category had the biggest decrease of the animal types and is down 43 percent since 2017.
  • Other Animals – In a continuing trend, all gained share. Reptiles & Small Animals had the biggest increases.
  • Business Services – Besides wellness products, this is the other big trend in the Industry. The lift is driven by private label/OEM and reflects the changing needs in the industry. There were only eight exhibitors in 2014.
  • Distributors – The count is the same as 2020 so the share increased. Only eight exhibited in 2014.
  • Gift/General Merchandise – This category has been consistently declining since peaking at 7.8 percent in 2016.

Dogs and Cats are the undisputed royalty of pet. Gibbons has divided the products designed for them into 33 subcategories. Let’s see how this year’s GPE Top Ten (by booth count) are doing.

The top four are the same as 2020 and the top two had the biggest gains in share. There was a shuffling in the rankings from five to 10; three moved up in rank and three fell. Grooming Tools returned to the Top 10 as Crates/Carriers fell to No. 12.

  • Treats are still No. 1 and their share grew 10+ percent. One in two booths offer treats. (Many supplements are in treat form.)
  • OTC Meds/Supplements/Devices also continues to grow in importance. In 2014, their share was only 11 percent.
  • Food had the third largest gain and reflects the ever-growing pet parent focus on nutrition, health and wellness.
  • Feeding Accessories gained share but were passed by Food. They are perennially ranked fifth or sixth.
  • Toys – Toys held onto No. 3 despite having the second biggest loss in share. This relates to fewer Far East exhibitors.
  • Collars, Leads & Harnesses – They held the No. 4 spot and their share has been stable since 2019 after falling from 22.1 percent in 2018. In 2016, they also had a 22.1 percent share but that earned them the No. 2 ranking.
  • Beds/Mats – Their share decline began in 2019 and continues as they fell from a tie for fifth to seventh.
  • Apparel – They held the No. 7 spot from 2016>19 with a 12 percent share. They began to decline in 2020 and had the biggest drop in share in 2022. They have now fallen to ninth.
  • Waste Pickup – They have been growing in popularity. They broke into the Top 10 in 2020 and now rank eighth.
  • Grooming Tools– After years at No. 9 or No. 10, they fell to No. 12 in 2020 but they returned to No. 10 with a 1.1 percent gain in share.

Pet parents’ concern for the overall health and wellness of their “pet children” remains the biggest trend.

The last chart details the specifics for all 33 of the Dog/Cat product categories. Of note: All the data inputs for this report and the SuperSearch tool come from a review of the Global Pet Expo online exhibitor product listings and visits to over 700 websites. Which categories are of interest to your business?

Global pet Expo 2022 is the place to literally see pet industry ideas come to life! There are products, services and education to fulfill every need and want. There is also an abundance of “new” – both in products and the 120 exhibitors who are new to pet industry shows. However, to reap the benefits, you need a plan. Exhibitors must showcase the “right” items. Attendees need to strategically analyze their data, determine what they need to improve their business and develop a plan to find the products to fulfill their needs. Then execute the plan. If they do nothing else at GPE, attendees will have two minutes and three seconds to spend at each booth. With bigger booths and mergers/consolidations, you definitely need a plan.

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