The U.K. pet care market is set to reach £4.5 billion in 2021, up 8.6 percent on 2016, according to retail research and analysis firm Verdict Retail. The company’s latest report states that pet accessories will be the fastest growing sub sector, forecast to rise 14.8 percent by 2021, followed by health & hygiene up 9.8 percent, aided by growth in the online channel and the lucrative humanization and well-being trends which are fueling shopper spend.
“The humanization of pets is a trend that continues to gain momentum, with pet owners more willing than ever before to invest in new luxuries for their pet including bedding, clothing, specialized food, gadgets and healthcare items,” Verdict Retail Analyst Fiona Paton said.
Despite increased spending on pet care, discounters pose a significant threat to mid-market players.
“The polarization of pet care shopper spend is set to continue. The health and wellness trend is driving consumers to purchase premium pet care items, while the expansion of discounters and single-priced players has impacted the desirability of mid-market players, particularly the grocers,” Patton said. “Product innovation is vital to offer shoppers something different and unique, such as specialist diet pet food or new flavors and improved ingredients to drive impulse purchases and average basket size. Such a strategy is particularly important for grocers to help differentiate themselves from discounters and maintain their leading market positions.”
Verdict Retail’s 10,000-participant survey also revealed that, although shopping in physical stores is still the most popular form of shopping channel for pet care, there is an increasing demand for shopping online, with 32.8 percent of consumers using online delivery.
“Online sales in pet care are set to grow by 43.4 percent between 2016 and 2021, so retailers must recognize changing consumer shopping habits and deliver convenience and flexibility to their customers, preferably providing a substantial multi-channel offer as well as more local stores to consumers,” Patton said. “Online pure player Fetch currently excels at delivering convenience by offering one-hour delivery slots and next-day delivery. Elsewhere, MedicAnimal is offering specialist healthcare advice via its online blog in order to engage with consumers and offer an added level of customer service.”