Pet adoptions from shelters increased 12% in 2020, compared to the previous year, according to PetPoint. When Americans realized they weren’t heading back into the office after a couple weeks of quarantine, they turned to four-legged friends for companionship and comfort.
Needless to say, more pets means a need for more pet food, more treats, more toys, more accessories, more litter, and more medicine. From April 2020 through the end of the year, sales of pet products at the grocery store increased steadily every month. And the seasonal high experienced by the category in December 2020 was 10% higher than it was in 2019.
Now, as of June 2021, sales of these categories remain elevated 10% year-over-year compared to the already elevated 2020 levels. In fact, sales of dog and cat food show an increase that is directly in line with the increase in pet adoptions. (We’re glad to see people are still caring for all those pets they adopted.)
A standout category, sales of pet medicine is up 27% year-over-year and 41% higher than 2019 levels. While grooming salons and veterinary clinics have largely returned to business as usual, Americans are still choosing to treat minor ailments at home more frequently than they did prior to the pandemic.
As fall approaches and many Americans return to work in the office and spend less time at home (75% will be working outside of the home office by this September), how will the way they take care of their pets change? Will pets spend more time out of the house (at doggy daycare or a pet sitter), having their needs met in a group setting rather than at home? Will pet owners feel guilty for leaving their faithful friends more often, and buy more toys and treats?
The pet industry—and CPG industry as a whole—is poised for more changes over the coming months. For brands in the pet category, it will be important to continue to advertise to the new buyers they’ve gained over the last year to remind them what they love about the products they’ve been using. There also may be the opportunity to increase or change advertising in response to greater indulgence or more bulk buying, but only time (and the data) will tell.
For ideas on how to reach pet owners, check out this case study: