By Rieva Lesonsky
It’s hard to believe in today’s economy, but sales of pet supplies (not counting pet food) hit a staggering $11.1 billion last year, up 2 percent compared to 2010, reports a new Packaged Facts study, Pet Supplies and Pet Care Products in the U.S.
Although annual growth in pet product sales is still down from its record high of 5 percent in 2007, the research company predicts that pent-up demand will gradually lead to an even bigger rise in sales as the economy improves.
Driving the sales of pet products are these key factors:
Human-animal bond: Pet owners are increasingly seeing their furry friends as members of the family, and smart marketers are playing up the human-animal bond to drive sales. They’re also marketing pet products using the same tactics that are used for human ones, such as getting celebrity endorsements, making health benefits claims and packaging them as stylishly as products for people.
Upper-income households: Affluent consumers are a crucial market for pet product suppliers. They are willing to spend a lot of money on their animals. Superpremium and specialty pet products targeted to these consumers are a big driver of the growth in pet sales.
Specialized pet health problems: The population of animals with special needs, such as senior pets and obese pets, is growing, giving rise to new products and services for these animals.
Nontraditional sales channels: Pet products marketers are expanding into new venues such as dollar stores and wholesale clubs on the low end of the spectrum, and home stores and department stores on the high end.
Crossing over: Packaged Facts says more pet companies are crossing over from pet food into non-food items and vice versa. For instance, makers of pet chew toys like Kong and Nylabone are expanding into edible pet treats.
Exclusivity: Manufacturers are developing tight bonds with retailers, offering exclusive relationships that border on private label programs. For example, PetSmart’s “exclusive brand” strategy includes brands such as Martha Stewart, Kong, GNC, Toys “R” Us, and Bret Michaels.
Clearly, while the pet products market is becoming more competitive, there’s still room for smart business owners to take advantage of the growth in this industry.
Image by Flickr user Epsos.de (Creative Commons)Google+