Marketing to Women: “Pet Parents Not Pet Owners”
March 2, 2012 § 9 Comments
We recently got a dachshund puppy as a gift for our daughter. My husband calls him the $2000 baby because in the four months we have known him, we have racked up costs for food, vet bills for shots and an operation, harnesses and leashes, a coat and Christmas sweater, a bed, toys, an airplane carrier, and his very own airplane ticket to travel to his new home with our daughter. His name is Little Richard, and of course, he is the family baby. Brother to our dachshund James Brown, the Dogfather of Soul.
According to a survey by Coyne Public Relations, 77% of us admit to talking about our dogs as if they were human family members, and 54% of us consider ourselves to be “pet parents”, not “pet owners”. More than 80% of pet owners know their dog’s birthday and have celebrated it; 77% have bought their dogs birthday presents.
Why all this attention for our furry friends? According to Marketing News, they 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 number of dog-owning households reached a new high in 2011 – 46.3 million, up from 45.6 million in 2008. Sixty-two percent of all US households own a pet, and forty percent of US households now own two or more dogs. And we spend on those pets. From 2001 to 2011, spending on our pet partners grew from $28.5 billion to $50 billion. And those vet visits? Well, it makes you consider pet health insurance. It’s $248 average per routine visit, and $400 average for surgical visits. And lest you think I jest, there are 10 pet insurance companies in the US, and those pet parents spent $400 million on insurance in 2010.
The anthropomorphization of our furry friends has lead pet products companies like PetSmart to move from being dog food sellers to helping consumers become better pet parents. Dog fashion has reached new heights, and Martha Stewart has invaded the aisles.
So, now Little Richard is an LA hipster visiting trendy restaurants with his new mama, and sporting his USC sweater when the evenings are chilly.