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Pet Humanisation: The trend and its Strategic Impact on Global Pet Care Markets

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By: Gina Westbrook

Pet owners are increasingly treating their cats, dogs and even small mammals like members of their family. The opportunity to commercialise this trend into a vast range of goods and services – from dog beer to cat counselling, from pet weddings to “social petworking” – is staggering for the company that can position itself to gain credibility among this growing demographic. Our new Strategy Briefing looks at the impact on pet care markets worldwide.  There are three main types of pet owner who are keen to spend heavily on their pets; they have different, albeit overlapping, priorities and interests.

crowned dog.jpg1. The mainstream humanising pet owner

This group likes brands that feel safe and reliable, that they believe to be credible and that they trust with their pet’s welfare. In many cases, especially at the higher spending end of this group, this can mean a focus on small businesses with an ethical business practice, and a distrust of large corporations.

For services, local businesses with a good track record may be preferred over a more clinical, large-scale contenders, while products, especially food, with a cottage industry feel tend to perform well.

However, this is a large demographic, and the more mainstream end of this group is happy with mass-market brands that convey an indulgent feel, such as leading supermarket distributed brands that use appealing recipe names, such as Trout & Beans. This group is also expected to be willing to accept the larger multiplex services as they emerge, especially if these services have the credible backing of vet services.

2. Anti-humanisers

The next largest group is the anti-humaniser, a group that rejects the more twee end of humanisation and instead embraces the animal nature of their pets, supporting products such as wild or BARF diets. This group is willing to spend heavily on their pets and, in common with the humanising group, prioritises their pet’s welfare. They are typically research thoroughly and also have a distrust of large corporations, instead preferring small ethically positioned brands. Although they reject overt humanisation, this group treats their pets very well, and trends in their pet’s food echo those in their own food, looking to organic and sustainable ingredients, for example.

3. Extreme humanising

The smallest group, accounting for roughly 5% of pet owners, is the extreme pet humanizer. This is the urban, usually female, pet owner who sees their pet as a baby or even a fashion statement, and is likely to buy clothing, accessories and extreme services such as stencilling. Although a small group, this group is often willing to spend large amounts of money on their pet on products, such as designer outfits and crystal encrusted drinking bowls. For this group, exclusivity and cuteness tend to be paramount.

The Three Key Types of Pet-owning Consumer 2014

Normal Humanising Pet OwnerAnti-HumaniserExtreme Humanising Pet Owner
Key characteristicsTreats pet as family memberTreats pet as well cared for animalTreats pet as substitute child
Prioritises pet’s wellbeingPrioritises pet’s health and rejects overt humanisationAlso cares about status and fashion
Typically high spending
Key marketsAll major marketsUS, Germany, UKJapan, South Korea, US, Brazil, India, major European cities (London, Paris, Milan)
Estimated % of pet owners60-70%20-30%3-7%
Key products and ServicesQuality food/treatsHigh quality food/treatsGrooming (aesthetics)
Day care/hotelsVetsClothing/accessories
GroomersSport/exerciseStrollers
VetsActivities: Doga, Pawlates
Toys/accessories
Looks for in a brandTrust, reliability. Prefers small business but will accept a credible corporationTrust, quality, ethics. Strong preference for small business, transparencyFashion, glamour, status, cute. Prefers exclusivity

Source: Euromonitor International

 

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