Season 5, Post 13: Prime time for pampered pooches
Lockdown seems like a distant memory for most, but one permanent reminder in many households (including your author’s) is that a small, furry, four-legged thing has now become – after perhaps that impulsive initial decision – a fully established family member. Pet ownership, of course, is not a new phenomenon. Animals have been human companions since time immemorial, so much so that we spent well over $150bn globally on our pets in 2022. Most recent data, however, show both good and bad news on ownership and expenditure trends.
The Global Pet Expo, the industry’s largest event, hosted annually in Orlando, has just finished. Sadly, your author was not able to attend but he did read the annual report published in conjunction by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), its organiser. Surprisingly, the number of US households with pets declined from 70% in 2021 to 66% in 2022, a reversal – for the first time – of the longstanding trend towards increased pet ownership. The APPA posits that animals that passed away in the last year have not been replaced, while some younger consumers have either paired pets when moving in with like-minded partners or returned to their parental home. Mathematically, these dynamics reduce the percentage of pet-owning households.
Happily, the APPA suggests that there have been few instances of buyer’s remorse. On the contrary, with over 10% annual growth last year, US pet expenditure reached $137bn in 2022 and is now larger than the domestic home building, domestic airline and beauty & personal care sectors (valued respectively at $127bn, $124bn and $91bn). As the photos attest, barely a week passes without a new dog toy (or bag of treats) entering your author’s the house. Encouragingly, the APPA forecasts a further 4.9% increase in expenditure over 2023, more than double Bloomberg’s estimate for US GDP growth.
Good news, then, for pampered pooches. The expenditure trends afoot in the US are being broadly replicated globally and, in our view, represent part of the growing trend of pet humanisation, a topic we first discussed two years ago. This is a long tail (no pun intended) opportunity, with the scope to premiumise various segments of the pet economy being significant. The industry is also highly recession-proof. More people would rather give up Netflix than their pet. Providers of premium pet products should therefore stand to benefit, but longer animal life expectancy should also be positive for specialist healthcare providers. More diagnostics and enhanced veterinary services are potentially where the biggest Dollars will be spent.
5 April 2023