The boom of the pet market
Every day, the Shibuya (Tokyo) train station had a peculiar visitor. Hachiko, a dog of the Akita breed, waited every day for his owner Hidesaburo Ueno to return from his classes at the university, where he worked, but he never returned. Ueno died of a stroke while teaching; the loyal Hachiko, unaware of the bad news, spent the next 10 years of his life waiting for his owner.
The bond that can exist between a pet and its owner is beyond reason, which is why, today, domestic animals are one more member of the family organization. Furthermore, it is possible that pets replace children within the home. This situation is more pronounced in the Millennial generation.
For example, in the United States, 67% of this group considers their pet as a "furry baby." In the United Kingdom, 54% of people between 19 and 38 years old would prefer to reduce their personal spending before their pets. In China, Millennials represent more than 75% of pet consumers, according to a report by Goumin.com and Pet Fair Asia in 2018.
But why do younger generations choose the company of pets rather than people? According to Mickey Chadha, vice president of Moody's Investors Service, this is because, in today's society, human relationships are more difficult to deal with than the company of an animal. Therefore, having a pet is a bridge to socialize in an increasingly digital world. Pet owners meet in parks daily and the animals themselves end up having emotional ties as well.
In the same way that owners go to the park to socialize, they also like to go to a bar where they can go with their furry babies without restrictions. Accepting animals in the establishment is a plus for any customer who has a dog. The restaurants are offering the possibility of entering the premises with a pet. This is the case of M Victoria Street, a London restaurant that allows the entry of dogs and has a special menu for them. Although these needs are met for the older, Generation Z people and Millennials socialize more in their quintessential environment: the Web. Dating applications focused on both dogs and their owners are the order of the day. Tindog, an application model in the line of Tinder, allows its users to meet other dogs and their owners that are near where they live.
In this new age of "dog children" (generation that prefers pets to children), the welfare of the animals is essential. The global pet care market will grow by 4.5% by 2025, according to Grand View Research's Pet Food Market Size, Share & Trends report.
In particular, food is a key issue for animal health, which is why sales of pet products in e-commerce will grow by 8% by 2023 in the United States, according to the market research company Packaged Facts.
Even some companies like Meowbox have taken cat food consumption to another level. Customers may pay a high price to keep their pets healthy and happy. Under a subscription model, Meowbox sends customers a monthly cat box for $22 filled with fun toys and unique treats.
In this area, big data and machine learning also contribute to the care of pets. The British startup Felcana monitors the health and welfare of the pet, using connected devices and tracking exercise, temperature, eating and drinking habits, including sleep patterns. The company collects and analyzes this information and produces useful reports for veterinary experts.
On the other hand, the younger generation, who are looking for more telematic and flexible working environments, want their pets to be able to go to work with them. In the United States, 71% of Millennials would be willing to reduce wages if they could take their pets to work, according to a report by Zulily.
Pet-friendly work environments can significantly reduce the stress of the millennials, a generation with severe anxiety problems. According to a study of the University of Berkeley, only half of the millennials (51%) have sufficient tools to handle the anxiety.
Also, NimbleFins found in 2019 that employees are much happier at work if their company allows dogs. Not surprisingly, Amazon Seatle has made dog parks, doggie bags, free treats and dog-focused events available to its employees.
However, although there are more and more facilities in the pet industry, not everyone can afford to have one. But there is an alternative, an idea from the nineties that has been recycled with the most modern technology. The mythical Tamagotchi is back in stores for a price of $60.
Unlike the original Tamagotchi, the new one can leave his house, celebrate his birthday with colorful balloons, and even travel to different lands. He can also get married and raise children, who will later become adults and continue the family tree. This way customers can feel that they have a pet (or a child) even if it is virtually.
Pet brands should focus their efforts on enhancing this idea of almost fraternal bonding. Technology applications are looking for ways to meet this need. Thus, apps such as PetCam arise to control the pet if the owner is not at home, or if the dogs do not want to leave the animal there is also Pets Welcome, whose mission is to provide information on hotels, cafes, restaurants or stores in the area where pets can go.
The technology tries to cover all branches of animal care, so there are also apps focused on the physical condition of the pet. PRO PLAN P5 DOG provides the customer with training and feeding tips, as well as a base of exercises and video tutorials. The owner will be able to follow the progress of the animals and compare it with other pets.
The bonds that are built between pets and owners are worthy of a statue. Near Shibuya Central Station, a few meters from the world's most famous crosswalk, thousands of tourists come to see the bronze statue of Hachiko, a symbol that a dog is man's best friend.
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