SuperZoo 2022 is only a few weeks away. According to John Gibbons, The Pet Business Professor, the pet industry and in-person trade shows have made a strong return to a more normal state. The pandemic caused pet parents to spend even more time with their pet children, so the pet products segments have prospered during this challenging time. However, pet trade shows were shut down, then have slowly returned since 2021.
Consumer apprehensions regarding personal contact fueled exceptional growth in pet products sales on the Internet. However, most of this spending is coming from proven products. Buyers of all kinds, from consumers to chain store executives, prefer to make in-person buying decisions on new pet items. Therefore, the strong return of in-person pet trade shows is critically important to the continued growth of the pet industry.
With SuperZoo 2021, the pet industry began to get back on track. At SuperZoo 2022, we are essentially there. SuperZoo 2022 currently has 1017 exhibitors. That is still 8 percent less than pre-pandemic 2019 but 39 percent more than SuperZoo 2021. More than 1000 exhibitors is the usual target count for the big pet trade shows. Another good indication of “normal” is the increased enthusiasm from the exhibitors. As of this date only five booths (500 square feet) haven’t been officially sold but three of these are reserved, awaiting final payment. SuperZoo 2022 will be a full house.
So how big is the SuperZoo 2022 “house”? There are 266,000 square feet of booths, a 37,000-square-foot New Products Showcase, with over 800 items, and 17,000 square feet devoted to Show Floor Education and demonstrations. There are also 80 separate educational sessions on grooming or business subjects totaling 86 hours. This is a great opportunity for the expected 10,000 buyers but also a challenge. They need to put together a plan to take full advantage of SuperZoo’s return to power. Total attendance including buyers, exhibitors, media/guests is expected to be 17,000. The show will be crowded.
New is always a focus at pet trade shows. That also applies to exhibitors. At SuperZoo 2022:
- 515 Exhibitors weren’t at SZ21
- 539 weren’t at GPE22
- And 366 didn’t do either show
Those are some strong arguments for attending SuperZoo 2022. It is definitely a “must do” for all Pet Industry participants. Now, let’s look at some specifics of what you will see there. Note: With a 39 percent overall increase in exhibitors, you’re going to see a lot of large positive numbers when compared to SZ 2021. I suggest that you focus on share of booths. To gain share, a category in any chart must increase their booth count by more than 38.6 percent. Change in this measurement will indicate how a particular group or product category is performing.
First, we’ll look at the overall show floor in terms of specialized sections.
- To help guide attendees’ time on the huge show floor, special sections have grown in size and importance. They exceeded 50 percent of SuperZoo booths for the first time in 2021. They are now up to 58 percent.
- You also notice that there were a lot of name changes. Rodeo Drive became Specialty & Lifestyle. Critter Alley is Now Aquatics, Birds, Reptiles & Small Animals and the Innovation Incubator is now Emerging brands.
- Other changes: Natural & Health were combined and the welcome return of an International Pavilion.
- Natural & Health are the unquestioned biggest trends in pet products. They almost always go together so it makes sense to put them in one section. Natural has been the biggest section for years. Even with a huge overall increase in exhibitors, they essentially maintained their share.
- Specialty & Lifestyle (Fashion) lost 1.0 percent in share. This section has been trending down in recent years.
- The smaller sections all had significant share gains, with Groomers leading the way in their return to prominence.
- The end of COVID related travel problems made an International Pavilion possible.
- The increase in share by Emerging Brands is very important because it signals a strong return of new companies to the industry. In fact, there are 265 first-time SuperZoo exhibitors at the show – one in every four booths!
Now let’s look at the Exhibitors by type, including animal.
- While all classifications but Distributors had more exhibitors, only a three gained share – Business Services, Cat & Dog.
- In terms of Animals, there are still plenty of exhibitors offering products to cover every need for Pet Parents of all animal types. However, the big gains by Dog & Cat emphasizes that the priority is the “Royalty” of the industry.
- Business Services is the big story on this chart. This segment includes Companies that offer services to improve existing businesses and those that help in private label production – ingredients, packaging or finished products. In 2015 there were 65 SuperZoo exhibitors in this category. In 2022 there are 176, a 171 percent increase – almost triple. The driver has been the ever-increasing desire and availability of Private Label products. Private Label brands allow retailers to differentiate themselves, offer consumers more value and usually generate more profit.
Let’s take a closer look at the royalty. Here are the top 10 Dog and/or Cat Categories at SuperZoo 2022.
- This chart is pretty boring and shows that the overall strong showing by Cat & Dog products was largely driven by these most popular categories. There were only 2 minimal share losses – Beds/Mats & Apparel.
- The categories are the same as 2021. Treats and Meds/Supplements maintained their strong hold on the top spots.
- Collars/Leads and Toys gained share and maintained rank, showing the focus on pets is both indoor and outdoor.
- Food is becoming even stronger as Food & Food Accessories had the biggest gains in share.
- Beds & Mats lost a little in share, -0.04 percent because their increase in booth count was only up 38.1 percent, slightly below the 38.6 percent needed to maintain share. They were also the only category to move down in rank, falling from a tie for sixth in 2021 to seventh place in 2022. That’s not bad for the worst performer.
- Shampoos maintained rank and Tools had a big share gain. Grooming salons are coming back strong, but also more pet parents are doing part of the work. The key is that the Grooming category is becoming more of a priority.
- Apparel lost -0.04 percent in share but that may be a win. Fashion has been less of a focus in recent years as pet parents turned their attention nutrition, health and wellness. This could mean that the decline has essentially ceased.
SuperZoo has 39 percent more exhibitors. However, the average booth size fell to 269 square feet from 294 square feet in 2021. In pre-pandemic 2019, it was 252. This drop in booth size reflects the strong influx of new and smaller companies. They are often the source of new products, so this is great news. Products and services are available to fill virtually every need or want of the attendees. Plus, increasing the size of special floor sections and making them more targeted along with a massive amount of educational sessions are two prime examples of the WPA’s ongoing efforts to continually improve the show.
853 exhibitors (84 percent) focus on Dog and/or Cat. Let’s take a closer look.
There are 283 more exhibitors at SuperZoo 2022 than 2021. Those offering dog and/or cat products grew by 243. The dog/cat share increased slightly from 83.1 percent to 83.8 percent. Dogs and cats remain the unquestioned “royalty” of the industry. Once again, we will focus on change in share.
- 27 of 33 categories increased their number of exhibitors
- Only nine categories increased their share of total exhibitors
When you look at the dog/cat categories making share gains, you see familiar faces. Eight of the nine that increased share were “Top 10” categories. The other category to gain share is a minor one, tracking & monitoring devices. However, their gain was impressive, +100 percent in booths and a 0.3 percent gain in share. This lift is very likely tied to the health/wellness trend. The share loss was widespread as 24 of 33 dog and cat categories lost ground. The biggest positive trends are Nutrition, Health & Wellness and Grooming. The “rich” in these categories got richer. Food (No. 5) had the biggest share gain, +2.5 percent, but No. 1 Treats led the way in booth count with 106 more exhibitors and No. 2 Meds/Supplements grew by 84.
Six categories had a minimal drop in exhibitors. Catnip led the way (-3) and had the biggest drop in share, -1.3 percent. Of the 24 categories that lost share, three others had a drop of -1.2 percent or more – Rawhide, Furniture and Flea & Tick. However, make no mistake. Even with these share losses, all dog and cat product needs are more than covered, with a lot of choices in each.
SuperZoo again showcases what is happening in the pet industry and offers a great opportunity for Industry participants, both exhibitors and attendees, to drive the growth of their businesses. It still takes effort and commitment from everyone, but SuperZoo 2022 is the surest bet in Las Vegas!
Finally, the chart below details the specifics for all 33 of the dog/cat product categories that I defined for the Super Search Exhibitor Visit Planner. (Note: The SZ 2022 Super Search will be available on 8/1.)