Americans adore their pets. Millennials, owning 55% of all pets, especially consider themselves more than just pet owners. They’re pet parents,lovingly referring to Spot as their precious child and demanding nothing short of perfection in their pet store experience.
So when 68% of American households own a pet, it’s no wonder that the pet industry is booming, raking in nearly $120 Billion in 2020 and showing jumps year after year. And it’s been driven by more than just pet food. Toys, accessories, leashes, even pet outfits are huge sellers for pet parents – especially millennials.
There’s clearly huge potential for business in this sector. The question is, how can pet stores best capture these opportunities in-store?
Provide pet owners with convenience and direction
For some, a pet is more lasting and important than a job, an apartment and even (at times!) a significant other.”Pet parents demand the very best for their loved ones. They’re ready and willing to spend, and spend big.” username=”barditotomedia”]
But such a booming industry creates a crowded field. With a cavalcade of brands, the challenge can be boiled down to category education and helping consumers differentiate. These parents want to be informed and empowered to dote on their “child” as best they can.
They’re as conscientious about their pet’s wellness as they are about their own wellbeing. They want the healthiest foods– real proteins, grain-free, non-GMO – the safest toys, and the finest products. You can help your shopper make the right decision for their pet with informative cards that compare key benefits and ingredients.
Beyond just creating puppy or kitten “starter kit” sections where you group together everything that first parents need, go the extra mile to provide signage with housebreaking tips, seasonal tick medicine reminders, or even advice on puppy-proofing your home.
On the other end, create sections that cater to the unique needs of older pets, carefully explaining the product choices and how best to care for your senior with in-depth signage. Because as much as they love the cute accessories, what millennials really want is to do best by their pet, whether a baby chinchilla or an aging pooch.
Give people – and their pets – an experience
Having a pet is inherently social. You talk about your kitten’s habits and show videos of their silly tricks daily. You walk your dog and inevitably run into other families walking theirs. You go to the dog park and socialize with other dog owners. With something that’s so easily shared person to person, how is it that somehow 85% of millennials look to buy pet products online?
Rather than treating pet supplies as commodities that can be purchased with the click of a button, pet stores need to boost their experiential offerings and make in-store visits more of a shared experience – something that pet owners would miss online. Some pet stores have caught on, offering nightly play, care and training events.
These events provide more than just socialization for pets – which is really important to a pet’s overall health – they’re social events for owners (also known as shoppers, customers, etc.!). Date nights with your significant other plus pet, Saturday activities with the kids, or an ice cream social for two (you and your puppy) – the possibilities are quite extraordinary.
The events bring people in-store, driven to participate in the experience that they miss out on online, and open to buying for their precious pet.
Tap into deep-rooted emotions
Animals: they’re part of your life. For many, especially millennials without children, they can be their whole life. There’s an innate emotional tie, not only to their beloved pet, but to the entire animal kingdom.
Think about the world of animal videos online. A shelter cat that finally got adopted. A disabled puppy that overcame obstacles. The soldier returning home and being ecstatically greeted by his dog. An unlikely duo of a chick and a rabbit cuddling. These videos tug at heartstrings and are insanely popular. In fact, The Dodo, a page dedicated to heartwarming animal videos, is one of the most-viewed pages on Facebook.
For such a popular, feelings-driven sector, pet stores are surprisingly unemotional, and, way too often, uneventful. There’s huge opportunity to tap into the emotional aspect of shopping for pets, especially through key signage and displays. Consider showing some of these videos in your store – or use images and messaging that evoke an emotional response. Whatever you do, reach the consumer through their heart and their loyalty, and purchases will follow.