Both manufacturers and pet specialty retailers say that consumer demand for dog and cat beds and furniture is high, and pet owners want products that are similar to their own styles.
"When it comes to furniture, [pet owners] are looking for options that offer different colors and designs to fit each and every consumer’s home," said Steve Luhrs, senior vice president of sales and marketing for New Age Pet, a brand of Pinta International in Hayward, Calif.
At All Pets Considered in Greensboro, N.C., general manager Alison Schwartz said that higher-end brands do well, such as Bowsers Pet Products’ beds, as well as K&H Pet Products’ items for cats and Vesper cat towers from the Hagen Group.
"These brands have modern styles that complement home décor," she said.
Beds and furniture are also consistently strong sellers at West Lebanon Feed & Supply in West Lebanon, N.H.
"Most pet owners are generous when it comes to the needs of their furry family members and usually identify pet preferences as being similar to their own," said vice president of marketing and business development Ira Richards.
Consumers make their buying decisions based on style, perceived comfort and general utility, and, as such, West Lebanon Feed & Supply carries a wide variety of styles, Richards added.
Spencer Williams, owner and CEO of West Paw in Bozeman, Mont., noted several trends.
"The current demand for cat and dog beds is centered on three things: durability of fabric, environmentally friendly materials and washability," Williams said.
Cats have specific needs relating to furniture and bedding, industry insiders added.
Susanna Vogel, founder of Salzburg, Austria-based Miut, said that there is a demand for products that enable cats to use vertical space to extend their territory.
"Around 85 percent of the 76.5 million cats in the USA are strictly indoor cats," she said. "They need activities or areas where they can release pent-up energy."
Many cat owners recognize the need to provide cats with their own space. In a recent survey by market research firm Wakefield Research, an average of 59 percent of owners across generations cited giving cats a space of their own as a primary driver in the purchase of cat furniture. Comfort follows closely behind, at 57 percent across age groups.
Colors & Materials
What’s Trending in Beds and Furniture
While dog and cat owners want their pets to be as comfortable as possible, they also want pet beds and furniture that are attractive as well as easy to maintain and clean.
Denise Strong, co-owner of Pawz On Main in Cottonwood, Ariz., said that round beds with soft, plush material that is fully washable are trending, along with cave beds.
In addition to comfort, the ability to personalize furniture and even match home décor is important to many consumers.
"For us, the current popular options include classic-rustic styles such as buffalo check and forest colors, classic seaside patterns and colors, and muted or natural tones to match home interiors and personal style," said Ira Richards, vice president of marketing and business development at West Lebanon Feed & Supply in West Lebanon, N.H.
Consumer preferences in the category are also being driven by how pet owners’ spend their leisure time.
"In general, the classics have continued to sell consistently, but we’re also seeing an increase in the sale of quilted and roll-up beds to accompany the trending outdoors/camping style, among others," Richards added.
In terms of color, Steve Luhrs, senior vice president of sales and marketing for New Age Pet, a brand of Pinta International in Hayward, Calif., reported that consumers are gravitating toward grays.
"It seems to be extremely popular across all products, as consumers seem to be trending to more modern colors and looks," Luhrs said.
Modern styling and luxury fabrics account for more sales at All Pets Considered in Greensboro, N.C.
"Colors like violet/purple and rose gold/blush have become incredibly popular," said general manager Alison Schwartz. "We have also seen more wood or laminate wood furniture becoming more popular with cat furniture."
Susanna Vogel, founder of Miut in Salzburg, Austria, said that, based on the feedback she has received at pet expos, buyers are also interested in products made from recyclable and natural materials.
Kimi Proffer, owner of Luca for Dogs in Canoga Park, Calif., said that bolster beds are popular in the premium bed category. In addition, the company’s round and rectangular bed styles have been good sellers, and when it comes to fabric, plush is trending, she said.
Finding the Sweet Spot
Pet owners are willing to invest in high-quality pet beds and furniture, reported market research firm Wakefield Research. In a recent survey conducted by the firm, more than a quarter (29 percent) of dog owners reported spending $100 or more on dog furniture, and nearly as many cat owners (23 percent) reported spending as much for cat furniture.
However, while the market for premium pet furniture is robust, and demographic trends suggest that the market will likely grow, most dog and cat owners are still spending less than $100 per item, Wakefield Research reported. When purchasing dog beds, more than a quarter (29 percent) of dog owners spend $50 to $99, according to the survey. Only 12 percent of cat owners spend that much on cat beds. About half of all dog owners (50 percent) and cat owners (55 percent) spend $20 to $49 for their respective pet beds.
Pet specialty retailers can benefit from stocking products at varying price points to appeal to a wide range of pet owners.
"New Age Pet has realized considerable growth within all pricing levels, as consumers with all different budgets are able to find a product that fits their needs and style for each of their pets," said Steve Luhrs, senior vice president of sales and marketing for New Age Pet, a brand of Pinta International in Hayward, Calif.
Alison Schwartz, general manager at All Pets Considered in Greensboro, N.C., said that the store does best with premium- and value-priced cat and dog beds, adding that competition from big-box stores that carry mid-priced brands likely account for this trend in her market.
Kimi Proffer, owner of Luca for Dogs in Canoga Park, Calif., on the other hand, noted an increase in demand for moderately priced beds.
"This, in part, may be due to the increase in online bed sales," Proffer said.
West Lebanon Feed & Supply in West Lebanon, N.H., stocks a variety of styles and price points to meet ranging consumer demand as well as to reinforce the "good, better, best" marketing principle, said Ira Richards, vice president of marketing and business development. He added that most pet owners consider cost as only part of the buying decision.
"They want to do right by their pets; it makes them feel good to know their pets are happy and comfortable," Richards said. "In many cases, the customer won’t necessarily purchase the most expensive and luxurious option, but they also typically steer away from the economy products."
Introductions for Cats and Dogs
New Age Pet introduced its Kitty Klimbr and Kitty Korner this year, both designed as the brand’s versions of cat trees, said Steve Luhrs, senior vice president of sales and marketing for New Age Pet, a brand of Pinta International in Hayward, Calif. New Age Pet is also launching a line of Mossy Oak houses for both dogs and cats.
Salzburg, Austria-based Miut is a small startup that launched its first product line at Global Pet Expo in March: a modular cat furniture system with hiding niches, perches for climbing and the ability to add on parts.
"The functional design enables the user to care for his product and to adapt it to various needs," said founder Susanna Vogel. "Its modular design can easily be assembled and disassembled, allowing a closed material loop and thus can be easily cleaned. Our modular system is robust, 100 percent recyclable and strong enough to withstand claws."
Luca for Dogs in Canoga Park, Calif., is always adding new fabric choices for its beds, said owner Kimi Proffer.
"Most recently, we added outdoor, plush and faux leather options," she said.
Motivate Them to Buy
Spencer Williams, owner and CEO of Bozeman, Mont.-based West Paw, recommended that retailers loop a video in-store, as it is a "powerful marketing tool when it comes to selling products that have many features and are made in a unique way."
Pawz On Main in Cottonwood, Ariz., sends email blasts to customers when new beds or furniture arrives, said co-owner Denise Strong. And at All Pets Considered in Greensboro, N.C., the store sometimes offers bed sales to purge older items, which can call attention to newer products.
Sending out sales circulars featuring furniture or beds and offering them at a slight discount works for West Lebanon Feed & Supply in West Lebanon, N.H.
"As they are most typically a planned purchase, we find that an added savings provides an effective call to action to get that customer through our door," said Ira Richards, vice president of marketing and business development.