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Report: Hassle-Free Buying Options Important to Pet Owners


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One in five pet owners have changed buying behaviors for convenience, according to a new report by Acosta, a full-service sales and marketing agency in the consumer-packaged goods industry. The report, Pets Are Big Business, was conducted to explore the “booming” pet care industry and to highlight consumer shopping habits.

“Pet care is a rapidly growing $75 billion industry, with pet food sales up more than 6 percent versus last year,” said Colin Stewart, executive vice president of business intelligence at Acosta, which is based in Jacksonville, Fla. “With this growth, we’re seeing spending behaviors shift to reflect more hassle-free buying options and more interest in healthy options for their pets that include real, natural ingredients. As pet ownership continues to soar, retailers should capitalize on industry growth by honing in on their competitive advantages and competing from all directions—price, assortment and convenience.”

Top reasons for millennials to change where they shop for their pets, according to the report, include convenience (49 percent), price (31 percent) and assortment (17 percent). Another finding in regard to changing shopping behaviors: changing brands is more common than changing retailers, and dog owners that shop most often online are least likely to change.

Other findings from the report:

  • Pet ownership is most common among millennials and gen X with 59 percent of households across both generations owning at least one dog
  • Millennials are also the generation most likely to own multiple dogs (42 percent of households), while gen X is most likely to own multiple cats (53 percent of households)
  • Taking in a stray is a very common method of adoption among cat owners, especially among baby boomers
  • Dog owners want real and natural ingredients, especially millennials
  • The majority of pet owners purchase over-the-counter flea/tick products and are most concerned about efficacy
  • E-commerce came in with 54 percent of millennials purchasing food and supplies for their dogs online in the past year, and 45 percent of millennials doing so for their cats
  • Compared to last year, online pet food sales are increasing but penetration is low at 9 percent

Also noteworthy, it was found that shoppers primarily purchase pet food at mass and pet retailers, and shopping for pet needs at several retailers is common with 32 percent of dog owners shopping at four or more retailers.

In the past year, grocery retailers have grown in pet food sales (5 percent), while food sales for pet retailers declined (1.7 percent), according to the report. This is primarily due to premium brands entering grocery stores, making it more convenient for pet owners to purchase food there and saving them an extra trip, officials said. Another contributing factor is that pet food prices at grocery retailers are often comparable or lower than pet retailers, officials added.

The report, according to company officials, was compiled using industry data and proprietary information sources including online surveys of Acosta’s proprietary shopper community. The surveys were conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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