|As millennials choose to have pets rather than babies, Silicon Valley is pouncing on the chance to innovate tech products related to animals, a segment that has seen an explosion of growth in recent years / Photo by: Alena Ozerova via 123RF|
According to Forbes, an American business magazine published bi-weekly that features original articles on finance, industry, investing, marketing topics, technology, communications, science, politics, and law, millennials are the reason for a lot of tech product innovations today. And as millennials choose to have pets rather than babies, Silicon Valley is pouncing on the chance to innovate tech products related to animals, a segment that has seen an explosion of growth in recent years. Information000 from Edge by Ascential, a company that delivers some of the industry's most accurate and actionable sales-driving data, insights, and advisory solutions for global brands and retailers looking to win in today's e-commerce-driven world, shows that sales in the pet industry reached almost $225 billion in 2018 in North America alone, and is expected to rise to $281 billion by 2023.
Pet Industry by the Numbers
According to statistics gathered by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) from various market research sources and are not included in the organization’s biennial National Pet Owners Survey, pet industry expenditures are estimated to reach $75.38 billion in the US consisting of $31.68 billion in food, $16.44 billion in pet supplies and medicine, $18.98 billion in veterinary care, $1.97 billion in live animal purchases, and $6.31 billion in other services. This amount is attributed to 85 million households that own a pet, an increase from 56% to 68% in the past 30 years. There are more millennials who own pets than their elder counterparts, with 32% of pets owned tagged to baby boomers and 62% to younger individuals. Other growing categories in the industry include online private brands that remove the need for middlemen or even groceries to distribute their products, end-of-life services in the form of cemeteries and cremation, and even pet entertainment.
While pet technology available in the industry is still relatively limited and small, smart pet products posted sales of $565 million in 2018, and it is still rapidly growing. It has already increased by 11% since 2017. At its current growth rate, the smart pet market should reach $1 billion by 2023, with the category to benefit pet food and vet services. Petco, a brand of various pet products, is opening kitchens in stores where people can buy food prepared for pets. Walmart, the giant retail corporation, is adding veterinary clinics to 100 of its existing stores. Many more companies are following suit, even on untouched digital space.
Millennials are now the largest consumer group in the world, and they’re willing to spend more on their pets that they regard as members of the family and from whom they take solace amidst the stress and pressure common in today’s world. As people who grew up online and with the internet, it makes sense that millennials would prefer digital solutions especially when it comes to caring for their pets, as mentioned in a Forbes article titled “As Millennials Choose Pets Over Babies, Pet Tech is Silicon Valley’s Unlikely Industry” by Ben Lee.
Pet startups, according to Lee, have received more than $500 million in investments for the previous year, and this contributed to the integration of technology into pet care products in innovative ways, taking familiar solutions and applying them to the pet space.
For instance, “Uber for dog walkers” has received more than $360 million in funding. The service uses a similar app and tech interface. Obe, a digital pet wellness company, received $1.3 million in seed funding to develop a smart food bowl that uses a built-in scale to prevent overfeeding. This uses an Internet of Things (IoT) technology system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals, or people that are provided unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data without human interaction. Another invention that seeks to develop the bond between pets with their owners who are away from home is the PetChatz, a two-way audio and visual connection to allow pet parents to monitor and interact with their animals even from afar. Similar to a digital daycare, this allows pets to be left at home alone and serves as a solution for separation anxiety for both humans and animals. A study conducted by Zulilu, an American e-commerce company headquartered in Seattle, Washington that sells clothing, footwear, toys, and home products, found that 84% of millennial parents frequently worry about their pets when they are away from home.
Numerous pet tech have also been developed as entertainment for pets, with the CleverPet Hub that comes with a touchpad with lights to make noise and feed the pets once the puzzle is solved. Pebby Smart Ball is a connected device that allows a smartphone to control a ball. This even has a built-in camera, remote interaction, and auto features to program extended play. Pets even have their own FitBit called a “FitBark” that monitors and records activity levels, steps taken, and sleep periods.
From connecting parents and pets from a distance to digital pet care and health with assistance from technology, we’re seeing a lot of growth and innovation in pet care technology that is expected to continue even as millennials grow older.
|Millennials are now the largest consumer group in the world, and they’re willing to spend more on their pets that they regard as members of the family and from whom they take solace amidst the stress and pressure common in today’s world / Photo by: Anna Yakimova via 123RF|