Consumers seem to have plenty of discretionary income when it comes to spending money on their pets. The sale of pet food and accessories can result in repeat traffic and high margins for independent home improvement retailers who decide to embrace the category. But to keep that business, you’ll need to keep up on the trends. This year, according to market research firm Packaged Facts, there will be no shortage of innovative and human-inspired products trending in the U.S. pet industry. These trends are discussed at length in Packaged Facts’ recent report Durable Dog and Cat Petcare Products in the U.S. Here are 10 trends from the report.
National pride is worth the price. While frequently associated with pet food and treats, the label “Made in the U.S.A.” carries huge appeal in the durable petcare products market, especially in the collars, harnesses, and leashes category.
Pet beds should be functional. Features including easy to clean, durable and comfortable are now fashionable in the pet bedding market, so products focusing on function now typically offer additional appeals. In particular, specialty beds with comfort features can reduce pain while the animal attempts to fall asleep, helping the pet sleep better and reducing discomfort throughout the day. For example, memory foam and gel mattresses have become a mainstay in orthopedic beds for humans, so it should come as little surprise that similar products have carved out a solid niche in the pet market, especially for senior dogs.
Cats want designer brand apparel. In general, most pet apparel is geared towards dogs, which tend to be a lot more amenable to getting dressed up. Taking humanization to the extreme, one of the biggest ways cats have been impacting apparel markets is via human clothing. High-end designers such as Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Jonathan Anderson have incorporated cats into their recent collections.
Bowls are designed to improve digestion, reduce neck strain. Many of the new, innovative designs in the bowl, feeder and waterer market tackle specific problems that pet owners have with their current feeding options. This includes products designed to reduce pets’ neck strain, improve digestion and maximize comfort and convenience while adding a sleek and stylish look to pet owners’ homes.
Fashionable pet carriers are in fashion. The importance of fashion and style cannot be overestimated since many pet owners seek out carriers that serve as a fashion accessory. Available in a vast range of materials, colors, styles, and patterns—with trims ranging from fine leather and faux fur to rhinestones and silver findings—pet carriers that look more like handbags also allow owners to sneak their pets into places that may not be dog-friendly. Accordingly, designer purse-type pet carriers, like those offered by Michael Kors and Chanel, are popular, with many manufacturers operating more like fashion designers As a result, many companies that started out with more basic models have been trending up to better compete with the growing ranks of marketers that focus exclusively on fashion-forward options.
Pet collar marketers focus on safety. For most pet owners, safety is a given when it comes to collars, leashes and harnesses, but marketers of these products continue to find ways to make these products even safer for both pets and humans.
Pet feeders are smarter. The recent proliferation of high-tech products in the feeding and watering category may leave some pet owners overwhelmed with the array of choices. “Smart” feeders and waterers allow pet owners to set feeding schedules, control portion sizes, and even customize feedings for multiple pets. As a result, pet owners’ involvement in the feeding process is no longer tied to the bowl itself; in fact, with some of the new technology-based feeders, everything can be controlled remotely via a smart phone.
Customers favor customization, personalization. Pet owners enjoy products they can adapt to their own specific needs, including those they can personalize via appearance or function. German-made flexi offers a wide variety of flexible leashes that allow owners to do both, ranging from functional to luxurious. Its Comfort line offers the option to customize the leash with the company’s Multi Box or LED Lighting System options, attached via a Velcro tape system, giving owners the ability to carry extra snacks and waste bags or light the way when it gets dark out.
Tiny pooches and cuddly kitties spur pet stroller sales. More and more, owners of small dogs and cats want their pets to be able to enjoy the great outdoors as much as their larger canine counterparts, driving up interest in pet strollers. Strollers offer a safe way to experience new outdoor environments and provide stimulation. One marketer cashing in on this trend is Pet Gear, with its new Jogger No-Zip Stroller designed for runners or joggers with a large three-wheel design.
Food bowls have whisker-friendly designs. Cats are notoriously finicky when it comes to food, and this behavior can extend to their food bowls as well. A common problem: many cats don’t like their whiskers touching the sides of their bowls when eating. New products include bowls with slightly curved designs that allow gravity to focus the food in the center of the bowl rather than being pushed to the sides while feeding. Other bowls are made with materials such as plant fibers to provide cats with mottled mate textures instead of the extra shiny or gloss surfaces believed to be unfavorable to most cats.