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Stacy Wood

Stacy Wood

Pet Industry Trends for 2020

2019 has come to an end, it’s time now to look ahead to the new pet industry trends and opportunities that will be brought by the new year. Since 1994, American pet spending has continued to rise every single year – even during the 2007-2009 recession – reaching an estimated $72.13 billion in 2018 and is now projected to hit almost $100 billion by the end of the decade. which is, well... now. This continued increase in industry growth means an increase in opportunity for your pet business to grow as well. It also means lot more new innovation and more competition to keep customers happy and shopping with you all year long.

Oftentimes, we see yearly trends in the human market that also show up in the pet industry, and this year is no different. With more and more pet owners (some 85 million!) treating their pets as if they are human members of the family. Because they are, obviously. The more important it is becoming for pet specialty retailers to offer memorable products and experiences. Today's modern pet consumer demands the same shopping experiences for their pets as if they were shopping for themselves, and there is no sign of slowing down.

Keeping up with the latest trends and shopping behaviors will help your independent pet business keep the attention of pet parents and help ensure growth well into the future. Here are just a few of trends we will see in the coming year.

Selling with Storytelling

The over saturation in the pet food market can certainly confuse consumers. What is the best food for their pet and where is the best place to buy it? With all the distractions out there it is a lot of work to capture the attention of shoppers. One tactic you will see is storytelling. More and more you will see brands sharing their stories and the why behind their business. With this, you can appeal to the emotional side of your customers and tap into that human connection. You may be a business owner but you are also a living, breathing, person. You have lives just like them, and you love pets probably more than anyone! 

Horses and Hounds in Granby, CT took to social media to thank their customers for winning 2nd place in the CTNow Best of Hartford Readers Poll. By doing this they included their customers in their story.

Capitalizing on this trend can help build customer loyalty. Include customers in your successes and milestones as a business, let them know how much you appreciate their them. Host events to celebrate these things and share with them on social media, so your customers will feel as invested in the success of your business as you.

Calling On Collagen

There is an abundance of pet supplements on the market available to pet parents. They provide solutions to every problem imaginable and offer a variety of delivery methods and flavors so pet parents can find the best option for their pet's needs. One trend that is becoming more popular is the addition of collagen in pet supplements and nutritional toppers.

Collagen is the main structural protein found in skin and connective tissues like joints, tendons, cartilage, and ligaments. Like humans, collagen plays an important role in the strength and elasticity of a pet's bones, hair, skin, and nails. Also just like in humans, a dog’s ability to produce collagen diminishes as they age. While I don't think we will see doggie wrinkle cream any time soon, retailers can offer products that help recoup lost collagen in the form of nutritional toppers and supplements.

Promoting collagen rich meal toppers to your customers like Long Dog Fat Cat in Omaha, NE did is a great way to get pet parents to incorporate collagen into their pets' diets.

A great option would be a frozen or shelf-stable bone broth like the ones offered by Primal and Open Farm or a nutritional green topper like Green Juju. Advertise these items next to your popular dry foods as an add on. A sign listing the benefits of collagen and a discount on nutritional toppers containing it is an excellent way to build the basket and a better bowl.

Keto is Key

For Humans, the Ketogenic Diet has become hugely popular this past year. What started as a treatment for epilepsy and Parkinson’s; now has dieters everywhere eating bacon-stuffed avocados and avoiding pasta like the plague. In 2020, this human trend will be making it's way into the pet world in a big way. If you are not familiar with it, keto is a low-carb diet consisting of a 1:1 ratio of healthy fats to high quality proteins.

There are several benefits of a keto diet for humans and many of them are reflected in our pets. With the rise of diseases like diabetes, cancer, and obesity in pets a raw keto diet can help reduce chronic inflammation and the metabolic stress associated with these diseases. 

Purely Pets in Shelby Township, MI knew their customers were looking for keto-friendly pet food so when they brought in Bones & Co they took to social media to share the good news.

Many alternative pet diets like frozen or freeze-dried raw proteins are keto-friendly options. Paired with a bone broth, kefir, or green nutritional topper a pet parents can build their pet's bowl to a full keto-friendly meal. Promote this diet in your store with special sales or even consider hosting a keto seminar to educate customers on this growing trend. Much like in the land of the humans, the keto diet won't be for everyone. So make sure you work with your customers to help them choose what works best for their pet's unique needs.

Shopping "Smart" 

Over the next five years technology will be a major driver of growth in the pet industry. But this isn't anything new. From Alexa to Siri smart technology is already making life easier for us everyday. Smart technology can now do the same for pet owners. New smart products aiming to make the lives of pet parents easier are already launching and growing in popularity.

A few examples of smart technology being used in the pet industry include smart leashes to track time and distance spent walking your pet, pet cameras that allow pet parents to check in on their fur babies from an app on their phone, and automatic toys and feeders (sometimes also with cameras and apps). During the new year, be sure to keep your eye out for these innovative products so you can be the first to offer it to pet parents in your community.

Petsafe is making being a pet parent easier with this smart pet feeder. Now pet parents can feed their four legged friends from anywhere by simply tapping on their smartphone.

These cutting-edge products are just the thing to catch the eye of customers coming in your store. Create a "hot new products" display toward the front of your store to get customers to stop and take a second look. Maybe even have them set up for demonstration so that shoppers are able to test them out before purchase. Nothing drives a sale like a hands on experience. These high dollar items can help significantly boost store revenue if you are successful. 

Brick and Click

A consumers need for convenience doesn't just apply to the products they buy it also extends to how they buy it. That's right, there are many ways an independent pet retailer like yourself can stand out. One big way you can compete is by offering an omni-channel shopping experience. 

What is an omni-channel shopping experience, you say? Simply put, it is a shopping experience you give customers more than one way to shop with you. Although, I think in these modern times, the term is simply "shopping".

Consumers these days want to shop with you online, they want to shop with you in store, they want to shop on an app, on a site, and in the aisle. This is an experience that is no longer an "offered" service but and expectation for all businesses.

That's right, like it or not the brick and mortar retail world is shifting towards a "brick and click" retail experience. This could mean you offer buy online, pick up in store or even goes as far to offer delivery services. This doesn't mean they don't want to shop in your store, they do! In fact, although the percentage of online purchases rises every year, so does the percentage of in-store purchases. It's not about this versus that, it is about offering options and allowing consumers to shop on their own terms. 

Mutt Waggin' in Plainfield, MA caters to busy pet parents in their area by offering a delivery service along with their regular brick and mortar services.

If the thought of creating your own online shopping site seems overwhelming, don't worry! There are many services out there that can help you get your feet wet in this sector. One such service is etailpet, they will help you set up an online storefront so you can start reaping the benefits of online sales. With no contracts required, affordable month-to-month pricing and 24/7 customer support etailpet is an awesome service to use if you are looking to get in the eCommerce game come 2020. 

This quick video shows you just how easy the shift from brick and mortar to brick and click can be with etailpet.

Once you are all set up you'll be able to use their system not only for online sales, but also as an easy way to collect customer data. You can then use this data to send targeted promotions through email marketing to entice customers into your store. Sky's the limit!

Let's Get Trendy 

As you can tell, 2020 will be an amazing year for the pet industry. With many humanized trends popping up in the form of products and experiences it's all any of us can do to keep up! Storytelling, Keto diets, collagen, "smart" products and omni-channel shopping are just a few trends that will grow in popularity in the coming year.

Some additional trends from previous years you will see remain relevant during the new year include CBD products and sustainability in both products and businesses practices. Keep on top of these trends throughout 2020 and your pet business will be sure to keep the competitive edge in your local market. 

Happy New Year! 🎉

Are there any trends you've seen while running your independent pet business? Let us know in the comments below!

About Stacy Wood

Stacy joined the Pet Food Experts team back in 2008 as their first full-time marketing employee and has been working in the pet industry for over 16 years. On the job, you can often find her obsessing over the latest in marketing technology and looking for ways it can help empower independent pet retailers to compete and thrive in a fast-growing market. She currently lives on a large property in rural Massachusetts with her family, where you can often find her taking a hike in the woods with her rescue mutt Ripley, or in her garden flexing her green thumb.