The ‘humanization’ of pets


Americans can’t do enough for their furry friends. To that end, growth continues to be the watchword in the pet care category.

Research released by the American Pet Products Association, or the APPA, indicated that American consumers would spend a total of $62.75 billion on pet supplies and care in 2016, up from $60.28 in 2015 and $58.04 in 2014.

Sales of pet food and supplies/OTC medicine were expected to reach $24.01 billion and $14.98 billion respectively in 2016, up from $23.01 billion and $14.28 billion respectively in 2015. The supplies subcategory encompasses such items as grooming tools, beds, collars, leashes, toys, litter, food and water bowls and clothing.

The booming potential is not lost on drug chain merchants who seek a bigger piece of the pet care pie. Rite Aid and Walgreens have ample assortments of pet food and high-margin accessories.

Americans, especially millennials, have a tendency to treat pets like members of the family. That’s giving rise to a number of trends, among them demand for products that owners can use to help their “furbabies” look their best. There’s been a spike, for example, in apparel for pets. There also is mounting demand for shampoos and grooming implements, APPA CEO and president Bob Vetere said.

A prime example comes from Wahl Clipper, perhaps best known for its “human” grooming tools, but also quality product for pets. One of Wahl’s best sellers for dogs is a norinse, foaming shampoo made from natural oils and water. After wiping it through the coat, pet owners can leave it to air dry or towel off the dog. Its properties also help to soften dogs’ coat, said Shay Moeller, product manager at North American Consumer Pet at Wahl Clipper.

Wahl also has developed a line of cat grooming products. In addition to no-water-needed (or waterless) shampoo and freshening wipes, these include four tools: a nail clipper that’s size-appropriate to fit cats’ claws and features a stainless steel cutting mechanism; a patent-pending, dual-level slicker brush with rubber tips to stimulate the coat; a pinbristle brush that draws oil from the skin and prevents the hair from breaking; and a two-in-one rake for longer-haired cats.

The “humanization” of pets also continues to push the envelope in the senior, weight management, and special needs, or SWM, subcategory in pet needs. According to “Senior, Weight Management and Special Needs Pet Products in the United States, 2nd Edition,” a report released by Packaged Facts, SWM products are on track to generate $5 billion in sales in 2020, an increase of 20% over sales recorded in 2015. Packaged Facts predicts that sales of supplement-type products alone will grow to exceed $697 million in 2019, with joint-health supplements ranking at the top of the list.

“As today’s pets live longer and struggle with health issues related to age and being overweight, there remains a solid need for products that address these and similar conditions,” said David Sprinkle, Packaged Facts’ research director.

Hartz has introduced a line of four chews to help meet these needs, including Hartz Calming Soft Chews For Dogs.

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