This holiday season, pet owners are planning to pamper their dogs and cats

Pet owners are looking to spoil their “fur babies” this holiday season - and they’re not afraid to open their wallets. Pet product brands need to understand this growing and varied audience.

The surge in pet ownership across the United States has spurred many new players to enter the market, and unique specialty items to crop up in the pet products space. Things like pet wipes and pet toothpaste have taken off as people seek to pamper pets that are, for the most part, living in their homes with them. As the holidays approach, many pet owners are looking for specific products that let them spoil their “fur babies” - and they’re not afraid to open their wallets.

The American Pet Products Association reports that spending on pets is steadily rising, with well over $100 billion spent last year alone. And, if historical data proves true, more than 50% of pet owners (that’s about 12.5 million people in the U.S. alone!) will buy their pet a holiday treat or gift. In a new survey, we asked pet purchase decision-makers in the U.S. just what their plans were for pet holiday shopping.

Our research found that 32% of pet owners plan to buy food treats for their pets this season. Data also showed that this population is seeking healthier alternatives for food, treats, and supplements, such as grain-free or fresh options. The reason they gave for this is that they wanted their pet to live longer, or their pet had a specific health issue or dietary need. In addition, they’re willing to spend more if the ingredients meet their expectations. We expect this will carry over into their holiday shopping plans when it comes to consumable items.

Also, when we zoom in on dog owners, 31% plan to buy stuffed or soft toys as holiday gifts for their canine companions. Couple this with the fact that they are also more likely to shop at specialty stores than their cat-owner counterparts, and retailers and brands should take note. Targeting this audience with the right products, in the right place, can spur purchase decisions. 

Circumstantially, it’s the perfect storm for the pet product industry:

  • New pet owners have entered the market over the pandemic;
  • Pets have become and even larger part of daily life as people are home more; 
  • Much of the huge Millennial group are choosing pets over having kids;
  • Data indicates that pet owners are spending more and more on their pets;

Prioritization of pets in the family structure is driving purchase behaviors, and this holiday season is shaping up to be a big one for pet spending. 

As with any group, pet owners are anything but homogenous. Examining target audiences in more detail, and creating a holistic understanding of their motivations and behaviors, is critical for brands. Analyzing primary research data from multiple angles while bringing in audience data from other internal and external sources, can help build a more complete view. Systems that can bring all this data together, and align it to find the most important insights, will assist pet products companies in driving a data-informed strategy - and better address the changing needs of pet owners. 

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