Marketing to Pet Parents: The New Kids on the Block

March 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Happy Easter from James Brown and Tina Turner

Before I had children, my mom used to talk about her grand-dog.  Now that my children are grown, I talk about my dogs and my grand-dog.  Are we really pet parents?  Apparently most of us are.  Many of my Christmas cards this year had pictures of the dog, dressed in holiday gear.

Pet ownership is at an all-time high.  Boomers — typically defined as the generation born from 1946 through 1964 — are a major reason why Americans’ spending on the likes of food, kennels, surgery, even Christmas gifts, is expected to top $55 billion this year.  Half of all Boomers have a pet, and 40% of those have a dog.

According to Marketing News, pets have  become replacements for the big non-furry types.  Societal shifts have seen more single men and women and childless couples making pets part of the family.  Now, 81% of us think of our pets as family members.  Baby boomers have replaced their grown children with pets who are now the recipients of all that attention.

The Denver Post reports, “Boomers are different, for the most part,” said Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Association.“What did they call us? Helicopter parents, because we were constantly hovering over the kids. The kids left home and now we’re looking to hover over something else. And so we wind up doing it over pets.”

Petsmart’s CEO Robert Moran knows a pet parent when he sees one.  Petsmart was a big winner during the holidays as pet parents rushed to buy products for the furry babies.  Some 76% of pet parents bought their pets a holiday gift.  That’s enough pet treats and goodies to boost Petsmart shares 50% in 2012.

The numbers are nothing to bark at; US pet parents spend an average of $5 billion on their pets during the holidays and more than $55 billion annually, according to the American Pet Owner’s Association.  Sixty-two percent (62%) of US households own a pet and 46% of them have dogs.   On average, dog owners spent $248 on veterinary visits (vaccine, well visits) annually and $43 on treats.

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