The Canadian pet industry is among the strongest and fastest growing in the global pet market. In this golden age of innovation, new ultra-premium pet specialty brands are launching every week, while existing brands are continually finding new ways to bolster the interest of pet-owning consumers.
When it comes to their pets, pet owners of today will settle for nothing but the best, and leading the pack in pet product sales are the Millennial demographic. In fact, Millennials are the largest living generation to ever exist in North America; Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers. And with the internet at their fingertips, Millennials are apt to thoroughly research everything from pet food and supplementation, to pet gear and accessories, medical care, and more.
In a 2021 survey by American Pet Products Association, Millennials account for 32% of the pet-owning population, followed by Generation X at 27%, and Baby Boomers coming in third at 24%.
This has caused a compelling shift in the pet industry, especially over the last decade, as pet product manufacturers target their marketing to meet the expanding needs of Millennial pet owners.
It is estimated that 76% of 20 to 38-year olds in North America have at least one pet, with more than half owning dogs, and one third owning cats. Additionally, almost 10% of Millennials report adopting a pet during the pandemic, meaning millions of new pet owners have now entered into this rapidly growing marketplace.
Older generations, such as Baby Boomers, have statistically been more likely to make pet purchasing decisions based on the advice of their veterinarian. They also come from an era where pets would live mostly outdoors, and would rarely be thought of as anything more than a companion animal; pets were considered as less than human, but that mindset has changed for many empty nesters. More on that in a minute.
Millennials, on the other hand, rely more heavily on online reviews, pet forums, and independent product research. Pet brands are responding to these changes in the marketplace, and now focus the lion’s share of their efforts to appeal to their largest-growing demographic.
When it comes to how they feel about their pets, Millennials and Baby Boomers share a lot in common, creating an interesting juxtaposition. Both demographics widely consider their pets to be members of their family, and as such, want to provide the absolute best quality of life possible. However, the motivations for the two demographics are different.
Millennials are inclined to own pets before marriage or having children, akin to having a starter family. In fact, almost half of pet-owning Millennials think of their pet as their child. On the other hand, Baby Boomers are likely to have pets to fill their empty nest as their children are likely grown and have families of their own; pets become their replacement children.
Owning pets does come at a cost, and leading the charge (no pun intended) are Millennials, as they spend more on their pets than any other demographic. In a 2021 survey by LendingTree, Millennials in America spend an annual average of $1,195 USD on their pets, with Gen X close behind at $1,100, followed by Boomers at $926. Interestingly, 8% of those surveyed report going into debt for pet expenses, often cutting out personal luxuries in order to accommodate their pet’s individual needs.
As pet owners, we can all attest to the fact that having pets makes us happier. Studies have proven the many health and lifestyle benefits that come with pet ownership. From better overall mental health, to lower stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, greater physical activity, sense of purpose and belonging, and much more; having pets equals a happier life.
Millennial pet owners are likely to be the dominant demographic in the pet industry for the next several decades, meaning pet product manufacturers will continue to evolve to meet the needs of their biggest customer base. Millennials do not just want high quality products, however. There is a big push in the industry for more sustainable and eco-friendly initiatives, honesty and transparency from pet brands, and supporting localized sourcing and manufacturing.
The pet industry is a market full of innovation, inspiration, and excitement. And as far as pet ownership goes among Millennials, it seems like we are just getting started.
Brandon Forder, known as The Pet Expert, is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, an industry leader in healthy pet lifestyles. Brandon is certified in pet nutrition, and has more than twenty-five years’ experience specializing in pet health and behaviour. He has written hundreds of informative pet-related articles for newspapers, magazines, radio, and the popular Ask the Pet Expert Blog. Brandon is highly skilled in pet problem solving, and enjoys teaching others about smart and responsible pet ownership. To learn more, visit www.CanadianPetConnection.ca.