NewYork 29.01.2016

Marketing to Millennials: the new generation of pet owners

The Millennials, a generation of 18-35 year olds are marrying later (if at all) and delaying house purchase. In the US, this group overtook the Baby Boomers (those aged 50-69) as the largest population of pet owners in 2014. What does this mean for pet food manufacturers?

Of Millennials in the US, 57% own a cat or dog, and 63% agree that pets should be pampered. Crucially, they are more likely than any other generation to get a dog or cat when they are unmarried or not a parent. This is at a time when, according to the US 2010 Census, more people are single than ever before – an increase from 8% in 1940 to over 27% in 2010.

Single parent to a pet

Where do pets fit in to this new society of singletons? The answer is simple: 50% of Americans surveyed who live alone are not really alone. They have pets. Pet ownership among single people has increased by 16.6% from 2006 to 2011. By comparison, there was a 1.4% increase in pet ownership among families during the same period.

A new phenomenon has arisen in the US where, according our Roper Reports survey, six out of ten pet owners consider their pets to be family members: the single person, living alone, as the “single parent” to a pet. And this phenomenon is not just restricted to the US.

The Millennials are not just the biggest population of pet owners, they’re also leading the way in seeking a more tailored, nutritious and varied diet for their cats and dogs, with an eco-friendly, natural agenda.

The humanization and personalization of pet foods

With the rise of the pet nutritionist and many pet owners now prepared to spend more money on premium products for their humanized pets, it’s no surprise that there’s now a large and growing market for pet food that more closely resembles human food. Grain free and natural pet food markets in the US now have sales measured in billions of dollars. There is also a demand for eco-friendly pet food that is green in terms of its ingredients, production, packaging and business ethos.

There have never been more opportunities for pet food manufacturers within a large and developing market, with a growing number of “niche” markets.

Behind some of the small companies providing premium products are the big players, which have shrewdly realized that pet owners prefer smaller providers.

For instance, Purina has tapped into the premium product market with its customized dog food ‘”Just Right”, a blend that suits the dog’s unique needs, with the dog’s name even printed on the packaging. Petbrosia also personalizes its food for each dog’s nutritional needs and guarantees that its food contains all natural ingredients and is corn, wheat and soy free.

Comprehensive market intelligence will mean the difference between success and failure for pet food manufacturers. The best informed will act on key market insights, making the most of the new opportunities, and growing their market share and profits.