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Boomers, Millennials Lead Spending In $30B Pet Industry by Kristen Cloud

02 Dec 2016 3:11 PM | Anonymous

Nearly 80 million households in the U.S. own a pet, representing 60 percent of the entire population and a large portion of consumer spending, which is why Acosta—a leading full-service sales and marketing agency in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry—has released new research focused on the growing industry. The Hot Topic Report, “The Pet Parenting Boom,” is the first full insights report from the company solely dedicated to this nearly $30 billion industry.

“The pet category is an important one, as its total sales surpass popular categories such as dairy and candy,” said Colin Stewart, SVP at Acosta. “Fortunately for brands and retailers, the two largest generations—Baby Boomers and Millennials—also represent the two biggest age groups for pet ownership, which means we can expect continued growth in this category, especially since Millennials are just now entering their prime spending years.”

Acosta’s report also explores the category as not just an economic trend, but a cultural one as well, providing insight on the following:

Who are pet parents?

A deep emotional connection between consumers and their domestic animals has helped steer the idea that pet owners are more like parents.

  • Ninety-four percent of owners indicate their pets are part of the family, with 80 percent treating them like children.
  • Forty-two percent of owners allow their animals to sleep in their beds.
  • Ninety-four percent of Baby Boomers talk to their pets daily, vs. 64 percent of Gen Xers and only 47 percent of Millennials.
  • Sixty-seven percent of Millennials take photos of their animals regularly, and 63 percent upload the photos to social media.
  • Fifty percent of owners include their pets in family holiday cards.

What are pet parents buying?

When it comes to spending for pet owners, the well-being of their animals plays an important role, but so does their own definition of necessities. Boomers consider toys and treats nonessentials, while Millennials— who are more likely to splurge on pet fashion—label them as necessities.

  • Forty-six percent of owners report they purchase products they think will provide a wellness benefit to their pets.
  • Thirty-six percent of owners spend more than $500 annually on pet medical expenses and $200 per year on regular grooming.
  • Sixty percent of Millennials purchase nonessential pet items at least once a week, vs. 28 percent of Gen Xers and 8 percent of Boomers.
  • Sixty percent of owners report celebrating their pets’ birthdays in some fashion, which for more than half of Millennial and 40 percent of Gen X pet owners means giving their animals birthday gifts.

Where are they shopping?

Pet acosta-pet-screenshot

As pet families continue to grow, so does the retail pet channel. Nearly half of owners will remain loyal to their preferred brand of pet food, regardless of coupons or deals, but they do take advantage of digital tools such as retailer websites or apps to search for sales.

  • Owners ranked Walmart, PetSmart, Amazon.com, Petco and grocery stores as their top five preferred destinations to shop for pet products other than food.
  • The top three drivers for owners’ retailer selection included price, variety of products and convenience.

“Pet owners shop for their animals much in the same way they shop for themselves,” added Stewart. “Retailers can apply key best practices in grocery to the retail pet channel as well, including appealing to Millennials, emphasizing health and wellness, and improving convenience to increase shopper loyalty.”

The Pet Parenting Boom was compiled using research conducted by Acosta, as well as the company’s experience working with the nation’s largest CPG manufacturers and retailers.


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