With millennials increasingly opting for petrenthood over parenthood, brands across categories are prioritizing pets.
Traditional life-stage choices are shifting, seeing millennials waiting longer to have children – and choosing pets with increasing fervor. Millennials are now the primary pet-owning demographic; according to research from Zulily, 75% of American millennials are dog owners and over 50% are cat owners, while 50% of the general population own a dog and 35% own a cat. What’s more, 82% of millennials see their pets as their children or as the first step towards starting a family. Pet-care brands have capitalized on this with anthropomorphic products like canine couture, feline wine and dog hotels. Now, brands beyond the pet sector are catering to this growing demographic of pet parents.
With the global pet care industry expected to grow to $164 billion by 2023 – a 31% increase from 2018, according to Euromonitor – brands across categories are shifting their products to accommodate this new phase of pet-renthood.
In February 2019 Tesla released a new feature as part of their latest car software update in the US, designed to make four-legged passengers more comfortable. The ‘Dog Mode’ feature enables dogs, cats and other pets to remain in the vehicle in climate-controlled conditions whilst unaccompanied. For ultimate safety, the screen will reassure passers-by with a message reading “My owner will be back soon.”
Tesla isn’t the first car brand to design features specifically for animal passengers. In December 2018 Jaguar introduced Pet Pack, a range of pet accessories for your car. The brand created the range because “the sweetest memories are made with the whole family – and that includes your pet”. With anti-spill water bowls, upholstery protections rugs, a folding ramp to help a dog access the trunk and a handheld shower to rinse down after a muddy walk, the Pet Pack ensures pets can always be brought along for the ride.
This all-inclusive approach has also attracted personal fitness brand Fitbit. The brand has partnered with Fitbark, an activity and sleep tracker for dogs which attaches to their collars. The partnership allows owners to access their dog’s activity and sleep information at the same time as their own. Owners of a Fitbit Versa or Fitbit Ionic can see their dog’s step count from the screen on their wrists. They can also access their own data as well as their pup’s via the Fitbit app, allowing dogs and humans to get healthy together. Aldi UK is also aiming to get pets in shape with their recently launched agility training products. The Dog Agility Course sets were released ahead of the Crufts 2019 dog show scheduled for March.
Retailers are expanding their ranges to include pet paraphernalia. Urban outfitters have recently welcomed BARK, which offers a dog toy range of canine flower crowns, fake selfie sticks and squidgy toy headphones. Anthropologie have also introduced a selection of curated pet tote bags, floral food bowls and dog collar charms.
“Pets used to really be for the kids,” said Gabby Slome, cofounder and chief experience officer of pet wellness brand Ollie. “Now pets are becoming the kids in a whole new way. Therefore, their place in the household is sort of unprecedented.”
To read more on how pets are becoming a symbol of adulthood, see trend #09 in The Future 100: 2019.