Research shows that more than two-thirds of all dog owners consider their dog a member of their family—and not just a pet. This same opinion is shared among many cat, horse, and other animal owners as well. So what happens when consumers begin to value their pets as family members?
The animal care market has responded to this trend by introducing a variety of “crossover” products—ones that were originally developed for humans, but are now popping up in the pet marketplace. In general, pet care follows the same trends as humans, although it may be on a bit of a lag. From a marketer’s perspective, the human-to-pet crossover story can be seen in a number of ways:
It was only a few years ago that Celiac disease and gluten intolerances began making headlines in consumer products—and now we are seeing the trend toward eliminating these ingredients emerge in pet care.
Similar to the philosophy that our ancestors did not eat heavily processed grains, and that a gluten-free diet is healthier, pet care companies are taking the stance that dogs, cats, and other animals are carnivores, and have introduced a variety of gluten-free, meat-based food products.
Companies such as Blue Buffalo, The Honest Kitchen, and Nutro have all introduced gluten-free pet foods, and are heavily marketing them as such.
The benefits of omega-3 and omega 3-6-9 fatty acids in humans include lower blood pressure, improved heart health, decreased risk of cancer, improved brain and mental activity, and a cited treatment for depression.
In pet care, omega-3s have emerged as a trend for different reasons—overall skin and coat health. With many animals experiencing skin allergies, dandruff, or general irritations, omega fatty acids have gained popularity as a pet supplement. While they are not touted as having the same benefits for pets as humans, consumers often embrace the idea that if a supplement has benefits for them, it may also benefit their pets.
3. Natural and Organic
Have there been bigger buzzwords in nutrition over the last decade than the terms “natural” and “organic?” Walk the aisles in any pet store and you’ll see hundreds of products labeled “natural” or “organic,” from supplements to grooming supplies to bedding to toys, and one of the largest categories: pet food.
However, like its use for human products, the term “natural” is largely unregulated in the pet space. Common misconceptions, such as natural and organic being synonymous, exist in the pet marketplace as well.
4. Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM
Older dogs, like older adults, often experience joint and arthritis problems as they age. And just as glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM have become associated with human joint health, these are some of the most prolific joint supplement ingredients in the pet space. Large breeds of dogs are particularly prone to hip problems, and many glucosamine supplements are marketed for “hip and joint health” and in doses for “large dogs.”
The rise of joint supplements is reflective of the trend that pet owners are moving away from the belief that pets slowing down with age is just a fact of life. Instead, they are becoming more proactive in their efforts to keep these beloved family members happy, active, and pain-free.
Heading into next week’s Global Pet Expo, we are excited to see what other new trends are anticipated to reach the shelf in 2015.