As you drive through your community, look at the houses. More than two thirds of those households have a pet. It is estimated that during Covid about a third of the professionals working from home added a pet to their household, most of them dogs.
Pet shelters and rescues have had demand hit historical levels; some had to institute wait lists. They all agree that this is a good problem to have.
American families set an additional $2 trillion aside in savings over the past year – and they are not just spending it on themselves!
My house is at maximum capacity on dogs, but that is not new. My wife and I rescue giant breed dogs, Newfoundlands and Great Pyrenees. We currently have three dogs: Murphy, Fiona and Maggie and invest in the best veterinarian care, the best food and the best services for our adoptees. It may have been less expensive to have kids!
We are not alone, pet parents get a lot of benefit from having their pets around. Much of that is in companionship, engagement and activity. When owners are stressed, dogs and other pets have been shown to lower stress, anxiety and increase productivity.
So, what does that mean to you? Puppies and Money, as a good friend of mine, Andrew, once said.
The pet product and services industry is roughly $100 billion dollars, about $37 billion spent on food and treats. Billions more are spent on grooming services, daycare, boarding, walking and training.
As consumers, we have more focus on eating well for ourselves than we have in the past. Pet owners are going the same direction; the huge bags of dried kibble that they picked up at the grocery store are seeming less and less attractive. They don’t want to give their loyal companion something made months ago that doesn’t compare to what the rest of the family eats.
What my household spends on dog food has increased significantly over the years. We feel that serving our dogs really good food saves us in vet bills and increases longevity. And what we feed varies a bit by dog due to age and health. We have adopted an older dog with arthritis, he gets one food. Our next oldest is a four-year-old and she gets a pretty normal diet. Our third is still in the puppy or young dog age range and she gets a puppy food. Then all of those bowls get topped with a fresh topping we buy from the pet store because we can’t help ourselves but to spoil them.
There is a lot of disruption happening in the dog food space, but with that disruption comes a need for information, education and service. If you don’t know the best food options for your particular dog, then sorting through websites and trying to figure it out can be daunting. I like being able to talk to well-trained experts to get advice and direction.
Additional services are often connected to shopping for supplies. Online retailers don’t offer grooming, nail clipping or vet services. And with online retailers you have to plan well ahead when buying food, which often means then storing big bags of food in your house as opposed to dropping by a store when you need to restock.
There is another interesting new twist to the market: with all of the newly bought and adopted dogs, what happens when owners go back to work?
Will we go back to work exactly as before? Only time will answer that, but many companies are already pulling workers back to the office for some of their work schedule or planning to in the coming months.
So, with employees going back to work, travelling and having other demands on their time, how will families manage their pet obligations while at work?
That is where day care, boarding and pet walkers come in. Pet owners spend a good bit on these services. Day care and walking businesses often look more like a membership cash flow even if paid at time of service because of the regular use by clients.
There is great peace of mind that owners find in knowing the service provider in these services. We have seen these categories become very service oriented and supported by technology in brands that are the category standouts.
Look for brands that have deep franchise experience, as that will drive growth when combined with the passion that new pet company founders have.
There has been great opportunity in the pet space in recent years, but now a perfect storm is presenting a previously unmatched ways to enter the space and turn your passion for your pet into part of your family empire.
I would also appreciate your patience as I voice my passion and encourage you to adopt, there are a lot of great pets looking for forever homes!