Our world is not in the middle of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as industry 4.0, said Ben Lee of Business.com, a digital media company. Industry 4.0 refers to a plethora of technology that continue to blur the lines between the physical and digital world. Technology has altered numerous industries including manufacturing and pets. The pet industry may be a low-tech sector but new companies are taking advantage of Industry 4.0 to innovate and establish the “pet tech industry.”
Technology and the Internet Is Taking the Pet World By Storm
Michelson Found Animals Foundation, a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to saving pets and enriching lives, surveyed 1,000 dog and cat owners and found that 47% of those who use health-related pet tech were interested in nutrition apps (47%), vet telemedicine (46%), and fitness trackers (31%) to maintain their pet’s health, reported PR Newswire, a press release distribution website.
53% were interested in getting a pet tracking device or a microchip, with 52% preferring the latter. Meanwhile, 40% were interested in pet monitoring cameras. Most American houses had been transformed into “smart homes,” with 61% of pet owners having at least one form of smart technology. Likewise, 56% of said they have special tech just for their pet. The most popular pet tech were health and nutrition apps (24%), pet monitoring cameras (22%), pet servicing apps (22%), and smart toys (20%).
57% of owners stated that technology gave them a greater sense of their pet’s wellbeing (41%) or security (39%). 79% of those who use pet tech utilize it for tracking or monitoring technology, including microchips (60%), cameras (22%), or tracking devices (20%). Voice assistants were also utilized for reminders (55%) like their pet’s medication schedule or to feed their pet (35%).
With diets, four in 10 pet owners with a food subscription service had signed up for a pet subscription service. Pet owners are leveraging the power of the internet and technology to make purchases. Zulily, an American e-commerce company in Seattle, Washington, found that 77% of millennial pet owners preferred purchasing certain items online rather than a brick and mortar retailer.
The most purchased items were toys (40%), accessories (32%), and pet food (31%). However, millennials preferred to purchase the following things in-person: treats (23%), bedding (24%), and clothing (24%). Nathan Richter, Senior Partner at Wakefield Research, said, “Younger shoppers are quite discerning when it comes to the products they consider good enough for their pets.” Regardless of the products they plan to buy, millennials’ preferences differ if they are shopping at large or small retailers and online or in-person, he added.
Pet Tech Companies Help Ease the Burden of Owners
David Sprinkle, research director of Packaged Facts, explained that most pet owners are currently using smart devices, which is not surprising as they tend to use technology to stay more connected with their pets all day, quoted Pamela B. Danziger of business news Forbes.
Sprinkle’s assertion proves that pet technology helps owners— who are away from home— to forge a stronger bond with their pets. For example, PetChatz manages to create a digital daycare for home-alone pets, enabling a two-way audio and visual connections to help pet owners monitor and engage with their fur babies when they are out of the house. Owners would also prefer to make pet care easier and more convenient. For example, SurePetcares created a micro-chip controlled pet door that opens when it reads your pet’s microchip or RFID tad, signaling a smartphone app when your pet leaves and enters the house. It also helps owners control when their pets can spend time outdoors.
Wearables are also a convenient way of monitoring your pet’s health, activity levels, and diet, said Davide Rossi, CEO of FitBark, cited Sarah DiGuilo of NBC News Mach, a scientific news website. He conjectured that the data will be able to help owners identify which behaviors are healthy and typical for pets of various ages and breeds in the future. According to Rossi, data could aid pet owners in making smarter decisions in caring for their pets.
There are also other startups that had successfully ventured into the world of pet technology such as BabelBark, which has developed a “fully four-sided digital platform” to offer detailed, data-driven solutions to pet care. The company was also known for its separate but integrated terminals for veterinarians, pet businesses, pet shelters, and owners. Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association, informed NBC Mach, said that type of big data could alter veterinarians’ existing knowledge about their clients’ pets, allowing them to help the owners better.
What Lies Ahead of Pet Tech?
However, wearables could lead to less physical interactions with pets, warned Dr. Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. For instance, Dr. Bekoff— who is also an author of several books about animal ethics— mentioned that dogs are social beings that need attachment and social interaction. While technology is beneficial to dogs (and other pets) and humans, it should not be a substitute to their animal’s life.
Although the physical socialization of pets is a valid concern, we can’t discredit the fact that smart pet products offer a glimpse into how digital technologies like the internet of things will take over our homes. If we have smart fridges, what more if we have dog bowls that connect to the internet? Nevertheless, we will see more companies leveraging Industry 4.0 to manufacture products for pet owners. We can expect more firms create innovative technologies to usher a new era of pet care.
Pet parents want the best for their pet, which is something that companies should take advantage of when marketing their products, to help them live longer, healthier lives. Sprinkles forecasted that technology will continue to rule over pet-product categories in the future. This will be health-focused durable pet products. In his opinion, these will remain as the “leading-edge of the humanization and premiumization market trends, which can be exploited in myriad product types, including pet wearables and ‘smart items’ such as litter boxes and beds.”
Pet tech companies need to address concerns related to data privacy and social interactions between pets and owners. Technology will continue to play a role in our lives, helping us accomplish tasks faster and more efficiently. Still, it does not mean that smart dog bowls or digital daycares will be substitute for our pet’s lives.