A trip to a typical pet supply store like Petsmart or Petco can be overwhelming. Usually in a warehouse-style building, these stores stock a seemingly endless supply of products for dogs, cats, birds, and more. A simple trip to pick up some kibble can turn into multiple impulse buys ranging from squeaky toys and rawhide chews to instant ID tags and dog-sized sweaters.

But it doesn’t end there. Take a peek online at pet products and services and you can find services like doggie day care providers and mobile grooming units, as well as products like GPS tracking devices and gluten-free dog biscuits. You can even commission an oil painting of your treasured pooch.

Gone are the days when Fido slept in a doghouse (if he was lucky) and ate store-brand kibble. Now, 81% of dog owners consider their dogs to be members of the family, according to an article by Christine Birkner in the March 15, 2012 edition of Marketing News. This shift means a change in the amount of money people are willing to spend on their four-legged sons and daughters.

Birkner also says that 62% of American households own a pet, and 40% of households have two or more dogs. Spending on our pets has doubled in the last decade, reaching $50 billion in 2011. If you don’t have a pet, you may find this level of spending to be rather ridiculous. If you are a “pet parent”, as many like to be described, $50 billion may sound about right.

The fact that we are treating pets more like members of the family is reflected in our changing naming style for pets. We used to name our dogs Spot, Rover, and Patches. Now we give them human names like Max, Sadie, and Lucy. As people delay having children, pets help fill an emotional void.

This new emphasis on our emotional connection to our pets explains why many of us are willing to spend the extra bucks on preventative vet care, specialty shampoo, or pay for a microchip embedded under their favorite pet’s skin. There’s even a Martha Stewart line of pet products, complete with sweaters and grooming supplies.

The pet product and service industry is huge, growing, and here to stay.

John Bradley Jackson
Entrepreneur, Professor, Author
Deja New Marketing
© Copyright 2012

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