People love a dog in a sweater. A bow on the cat. A tiny hat for the gerbil. So, not surprisingly, Americans are expected to spend a lot on their pets in 2019, to the tune of $75 billion. More than two thirds of those billions will be spent on food and vet care, but that leaves a lot for sweaters and toys. The holidays in particular, are a popular time to spoil family pets, with nearly 80% of “pet parents” planning to buy for their animals this holiday season, according to a report by Rover.com. Lest anyone worry that pets are materialistic and don’t care about the true meaning of the holiday season, 71% of pet parents also plan to include their pets in holiday traditions — although these often require festive sweaters.
What Are Consumers Buying For Their Furry Friends?
Dog owners (87%) tend to be slightly more prone to making purchases for their pets than cat owners (72%), with the majority of money spent on toys and treats. 68% of pets will be lucky enough to receive more than one gift, and two thirds of pets will get Christmas stockings.
Where Are Pet Lovers Shopping?
Most shoppers, around 53%, plan to buy for their pets at brick-and-mortar stores, with dog owners slightly more likely to buy from local, mom-and-pop shops. 31% of pet parents plan to shop online.
As with many industries, subscription boxes have become very popular with niche audiences, and pet owners are no different. Since launching in 2011, BarkBox has seen a meteoric rise through a crowded field of pet specialty boxes. By 2017, the company had sold 50 million products. In addition to monthly subscription boxes of treats and toys, BarkBox created several digital initiatives, including BarkCam and BarkBuddy, and has over a million followers on Instagram. BarkBox regularly encourages followers to post pictures of their pets via hashtag campaigns, generating ongoing engagement. By tapping into the various ways pet owners like to buy for their pets and share their pets lives online, BarkBox has created brand loyalty — more than 95% of BarkBox customers have bought more than once. For the holidays, BarkBox will have holiday themed toys, of course.
Chewy is another digitally savvy pet supply company, offering everything for pets, including prescriptions typically only available through veterinarians. Like BarkBox, Chewy deploys reoccurring shipments, making buying pet supplies seamless and easy. A very charming commercial for good dogs everywhere kicked off Chewy’s holidays sales season in 2018.
How Can Marketers Reach Pet-Obsessed Consumers?
Animals make consumers feel good. Cat videos on YouTube have more than 25 billion views, and advertisements featuring animals are watched and shared by millions. When marketing to pet fans for the holidays, or at any time, tugging at their heartstrings, as Subaru has so effectively done in the past, and giving pet parents opportunities to include their pets in social campaigns, like BarkBox facilitates, can be the keys to recurring business and engagement.