Millennials, which have a projected income of $3.39 trillion this year, are the primary pet-owning demographic, with 35 percent of pets owned by this generation, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). As the primary pet-owning demographic in the U.S., millennials are crucial to the bottom line of pet specialty retailers nationwide.
A recent survey from e-commerce retailer zulily, uncovered how millennial pet owners shop for their pets, what they are purchasing and how their relationship with their pet is impacting every aspect of their life—including work, family and relationships.
Zulily’s The Millennialization of the Pet Industry – Retail’s Opportunity to Reach the Pet-Obsessed Report found that millennial pet owners would find it more stressful to be separated for a week from their pet (65 percent) than their cell phone. Employed millennial pet owners are so attached to their pets that 71 percent would take a pay cut if it meant they could bring their pet(s) to work every day. And, more than 1 in 5 (21 percent) would sacrifice a whopping 20 percent or more of their pay to make every day “bring your pet to work day.”
Millennials’ relationships with their pets is not the only way the demographic think differently about their pets.
While shopping for their pets, millennials are likely to add to cart something for themselves. Eighty-three percent of millennial pet owners have purchased dog- or cat-themed merchandise, according to the survey.
The most popular pet-themed products are calendars (43 percent), clothing, such as T-shirts or hoodies (42 percent), cups or travel mugs (37 percent), door signs or welcome mats (33 percent), and wall art such as paintings or posters (32 percent).
Older millennials (26-36) are more likely than younger millennials (18-25) to showcase their pet parent status (85 percent to 78 percent). When it comes to showing pet pride, men are more likely to buy merchandise, with 86 percent purchasing pet-related merchandise compared to 79 percent of women. Some millennials are taking it one step further and going beyond the T-shirts with cute sayings and are wearing their pets.
While millennials are more apt to purchase something for themselves while shopping for their pets, those surveyed by Wakefield Research for zulily did not feel like a trip to the pet store provides enough additional education. Nearly 2 in 3 (63 percent) millennial pet owners believe they know more about cats and/or dogs than pet store employees do.
Online retailers continue to find their niche in the pet products market, and 77 percent of millennial pet owners prefer to buy certain items online rather than a brick-and-mortar retailer and top purchases include toys (40 percent), accessories (32 percent) and pet food (31 percent).
When it comes to treats (23 percent), bedding (24 percent) and clothing (24 percent), millennials prefer to shop for these in-person. For millennial pet owners, there are some items they prefer to shop for in-person at smaller, locally-owned pet shops. Treats (59 percent) top the list, followed by toys (58 percent), pet food (55 percent), accessories (e.g., collars) (39 percent) and grooming items (e.g., brushes) (34 percent).
“Younger shoppers are quite discerning when it comes to the products they consider good enough for their pets,” said Nathan Richter, senior partner at Wakefield Research, which conducted the research for Zulily. “Whether it’s food or clothing and accessories, their preferences differ depending on whether they are shopping at large versus small retailers, or online versus in-person. This is not the generation that is looking for one-stop-shop convenience, so retailers need to be sure they have an optimal mix of high quality and specialty products.”