New outlets are emerging to satisfy millennials’ caregiving impulses.
As family structures are shifting, the vast majority of Americans view pets as children, according to JWT Intelligence’s SONAR™ research: 89% of single Americans and 91% of Americans in committed relationships believe that pets are like de facto children. In Seattle, domesticated dogs even outnumber children, according to recent US census data.
Consumers are lavishing their pets with luxury, high-design and high-quality products and services akin to those they would choose for themselves. The global pet care market is expected to reach $202.6 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research.
Americans in particular are pampering their pets and spending more on them than ever before, according to recent data. The 2019 findings of the American Pet Products Association (APPA) show that pet care spending in 2018 reached a record high of $72.56 billion, an increase of over 4% from 2017.
From luxury pet care services to human-grade food, millennials are seeking out elevated amenities and products for their fur babies.
According to a 2018 survey from Realtor.com, 75% of Americans would pass on their dream home if it didn’t suit their pets. As a result, pet-centric amenities are becoming a mark of luxury in high-end residences. Since launching its first location in 2017, Throw Me A Bone has opened six additional luxury pet care facilities in apartment buildings throughout New York City, offering pet spas, playrooms and pet concierges. At luxury building 525 West 52nd Street, residents enjoy exclusive full-service pet care including on-site daycare, in-home pet sitting, dog training classes, a full grooming spa, veterinary clinic, door-to-door dog walking services and overnight care.
In Beijing, pet food company Penny’s Food Studio is opening Space, a clubhouse and “cage-free social space” for dogs, in 2019. “Think of it as boarding and daycare for nice dogs only,” cofounder Tao Zhu tells the Innovation Group.
As environmental concerns and rising health awareness bring more attention to clean eating, health-conscious consumers are looking for wellness-adjacent food options for their pets. In August 2019, salad chain Sweetgreen partnered with pet care brand Wild One on Plants for Pups, a line of dog treats designed to help pet owners extend healthy eating habits to their dogs. “If we don’t want to eat these things ourselves, why are we feeding them to our pets as a reward?” Minali Chatani, cofounder and head of brand at Wild One, told Fast Company. “We wanted to make a treat that humans would feel comfortable giving their dogs.”
This partnership follows Wild One’s new range of single-ingredient dog treats, released in April 2019, which are free from chemicals and fillers. Chatani explains that the concept of Wild One emerged when the founders realized that “pets were not being represented at all when it came to lifestyle brands and products.”
In January 2019, The Farmer’s Dog, a startup that offers personalized subscription meal plans for dogs with 100% human-grade fresh food, raised $39 million in series B funding – the largest round to date for a pet-related startup. In September 2018, Phaidon released a dog cookbook for pet parents as “an informative and practical guide to cooking healthy, nutritious meals for dogs.” And Smalls offers responsibly sourced, high-quality fresh cat food.
“I would say that not being married and incurring sometimes associated costs like buying a house, car, and so on does mean that younger, unmarried people do tend to have more disposable income than young families,” Zhu says of the trend for spending money on pets.
“Millennials continue to be the largest pet-owning demographic,” said Bob Vetere, former president and CEO of APPA. “We know this generation is willing to pay more for quality products and services to improve the health and wellbeing of their pets. Today, more than ever, pet owners view their pets as irreplaceable members of their families and lives, and it’s thanks to this that we continue to see such incredible growth within the pet care community.”
Main image courtesy of Penny’s Food Studio