On his blog, Small Business Labs, Steve King, Emergent Research partner and a regular contributor to SmallBusiness.com, often tracks news related to marketing trends aimed at humans who love pets. (No the “Labs” in the name Small Business Labs does not refer to Labrador Retrievers.) We know that hundreds of business pets allow their humans to use SmallBusiness.com, so we appreciate Steve allowing us to pass along this item. (Note: The following list comes from the retail research firm Packaged Facts and its report, “Durable Dog and Cat Petcare Products in the U.S,” The report costs $4,000. As SmallBusiness.com did not agree to fetch that report, Steve’s facts below are from the press release only.)
“From leather collars to fur-lined carriers and orthopedic bedding, there’s no shortage of innovative and human-inspired products trending in the U.S. pet industry.”
The key point in the quote above is “human-inspired.” This is because the pet humanization trend continues to grow in strength. Ever growing numbers of “pet parents” and “pet partners” are treating their furry friends as full-fledged family members. In the Packaged Facts research, “mobility” seems to be a theme this year with two trends in this area:
Designer pet carriers | Available in a vast range of materials, colors, styles and patterns—with trims ranging from fine leather and faux fur to rhinestones and silver findings—pet carriers that look more like handbags also allow owners to sneak their pets into places that may not be dog-friendly.
Tiny pets spurring stroller sales | More and more, owners of small dogs and cats want their pets to be able to enjoy the great outdoors as much as their larger canine counterparts, driving up interest in pet strollers. Being old fashioned, when we take our dogs for a walk we expect them to actually walk. But we can report the number of dogs and cats in strollers or bags we see on our walks has substantially increased over the past couple of years.
Pet Gear No-Zip Jogger Pet Stroller
Amazon | $202.76
Designer brand apparel for cats | In general, most pet apparel is geared towards dogs, which tend to be a lot more amenable to getting dressed up. Taking humanization to the extreme, one of the biggest ways cats have been impacting apparel markets is via human clothing. High-end designers such as Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Jonathan Anderson have incorporated cats into their recent collections.
Top 10 Human Trends in Pet Retailing
(Full descriptions at Packaged Facts press release.)
- National pride | “Made in the U.S.A.” also carries huge appeal in the durable pet care products market, especially in the collars, harnesses and leashes category.
- “Functional” is a sought-after buzz word when purchasing pet beds | Features including easy to clean, durable and comfortable are now more or less de rigueur in the pet bedding market. For example, memory foam and gel mattresses have become a mainstay in orthopedic beds for humans, so it should come as little surprise that similar products have carved out a solid niche in the pet market.
- Designer brand apparel for cats | In general, most pet apparel is geared toward dogs, which tend to be a lot more amenable to being dressed up. But high-end designers such as Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Jonathan Anderson have incorporated cats into their recent collections.
- Bowl designed to improve digestion and reduce neck strain | Many of the new, innovative designs in the bowl, feeder and “waterer” market tackle specific problems that pet owners have with their current feeding options. This includes products designed to reduce pets’ neck strain, improve digestion and maximize comfort and convenience while adding a sleek and stylish look to pet owners’ homes.
- Fashionable, even designer pet carriers | Many companies that started out with more basic models have been trending up to better compete with the growing ranks of marketers that focus exclusively on fashion-forward options.
Louis Vuitton Dog Carrier
Louis Vuitton | $2,700 (Really)
- Pet collar marketers capitalize on the “maximum visibility = safety” formula | Coastal Pet Products recently updated the design of its Lazer Brite collars for maximized reflectivity, making the collar visible at up to 600 feet.
- Smart pet feeders | “Smart” feeders and waterers allow pet owners to set feeding schedules, control portion sizes, and even customize feedings for multiple pets. With some of the new technology-based feeders, everything can be controlled remotely via a smartphone.
Amazon | $148
- Customization, personalization | Pet owners enjoy products they can adapt to their own specific needs, including those they can personalize via appearance or function. German-made flexi offers a wide variety of flexible leashes that allow owners to do both, ranging from functional to luxurious.
- Tiny pets spurring stroller sales | More and more, owners of small dogs and cats want their pets to be able to enjoy the great outdoors as much as their larger canine counterparts, driving up interest in pet strollers. Strollers offer a safe way to experience new outdoor environments and provide stimulation. One marketer cashing in on this trend is Pet Gear, with its new Jogger No-Zip Stroller designed for runners or joggers with a large three-wheel design.
- Whisker-friendly designs | Solving the common problem that many cats don’t like their whiskers touching the sides of their bowls when eating, new products include bowls with slightly curved designs that allow gravity to focus the food in the center of the bowl rather than being pushed to the sides while feeding.
Photos | istock, Amazon.com