In the New Normal of economic moderation, pet industry players must walk a line between promotional pricing and product premiumization. While shoppers remain intently focused on value, numerous indicators suggest that the U.S. pet market has yet to come fully into its own. Notwithstanding the great recession, the pet product shopper base has continued to migrate into the higher-priced pet specialty channel, while supermarkets and discount stores have seen their pet product shopper base decline. Private brands are more important than ever, but pet food remains private-label resistant, an outpost of shopper loyalty to national brands. Natural, organic, and eco-friendly products continue to advance, as do pet health products and services including medications, supplements, and insurance. And 2011 was nothing less than a banner year for mid-level acquisitions.
During Super Bowl XLVI, dogs featured prominently in commercials that were not even pet related–ads selling cars, beer, and chips. This was a sign-of-the-times: Packaged Facts sees pet parenting and the ensconcement of pets as members of the family not just as a trend, but as a long-term societal shift favoring even greater spending on the pet market in the years to come.
Factor in industry efforts embodied in the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation (HABRI) to advance the understanding of the positive impact of pet ownership on human health, and the U.S. pet industry appears to be positioning for a boom.
At the same time, many Americans remain budget-strapped, and it’s essential that pet marketers and retailers respond to this mindset as well as to the expectations of less cost-conscious pet owners. In this market environment, it’s no accident that, along with pet specialty retailers, price-focused dollar stores and wholesale clubs have been growing their pet business.
Rolling up Packaged Facts’ ongoing pulse-taking of the pet market, extensive pet market research coverage, and exclusive Pet Owner Survey data–including hot-off-the-press findings from the March 2012 consumer survey – The new market research report U.S. Pet Market Outlook 2012-2013 is the a great resource for understanding the U.S. pet industry. In its 4th edition, the report evaluates current trends and future directions for marketing and retailing, along with consumer patterns across the full spectrum of the market, including veterinary services, pet food, nonfood pet supplies, and non-medical pet services (grooming, boarding, training, etc.). Building on the market tracking, forecasting, and position-taking of previous editions, the report forecasts market size and growth for each category; examines new product activity; surveys retail channel trends including cross-channel shopping vs. shopper loyalty; and analyzes trends and shifts in the needs of today’s pet parents. The report tabulates pet product sales channel by channel, using data from sources including SymphonyIRI Group, whose InfoScan Review data tracks sales in supermarkets, drugstores, and mass merchandisers other than Walmart; GfK Retail & Technology, which tracks sales in pet shops, farm & feed stores, and veterinary clinics across the U.S.; and SPINS, Inc., whose SPINSscan service tracks sales in the natural supermarket channel and in the specialty gourmet supermarket channel.