Last night ours became a foster home for Lucy, a seven-year-old Bichon Frise. Lucy temporarily joins Winston, our wonder-pet, also a Bichon, who we adopted from a Twin Cities rescue agency less than two years ago.
My husband and I told our two children from the beginning that we are not adopting Lucy. I thought we were clear. But as soon as our 16 year-old daughter and 10 year-old son picked her up from the rescue agency’s vet, they fell hard for Lucy. Our daughter took her to PetSmart for a bath. Then she bought Lucy a new collar, a bed and a couple of sweaters. Today, the kids will buy her some toys.
Our children are not alone in their willingness to spend both time and money on a pet.
According to Mindbranch®, U.S. consumers spent $18.9 billion on pet products in 2003. But there is more. Forbes magazine says that pet owners are spending “serious money” on nutrition and medications meant to increase life span or improve our pet’s quality of life.
What drives these sales? The Ledger puts their finger on it in an on-line article called Sales of Pet Products Are Going One Way: Up.The reason: pets are considered members of the family. In our case, they become family even when they are staying just a little while.
At the Gift Fairs in Los Angeles and New York this past summer, vast arrays of pet products were on-show. Carriers topped the list, but it was easy to find collar and leash wardrobes, as well as jackets and sweaters made from materials that ranged from pedestrian to luxury.
Portraits and feeding dishes were everywhere. Pajamas decorated with dogs or cats made it clear that our penchant for pets is more than a passing fancy. This is an important and mainstream category.
All this means that the opportunity to increase sales of pet products through trend is as great as it is for any other niche. This is already happening to some degree, however, the big shift from a utility to a fashion point of view that keys into color and design trends has only begun. It has not achieved the widespread status that is possible. When that happens, watch out. Sales will skyrocket once again.