1 in 3 U.S. Pet Owners Millennials: What it Means for the Pet Food Market

1 in 3 U.S. Pet Owners Millennials: What it Means for the Pet Food Market

Check out Packaged Facts' newest pet food report, Pet Food in the U.S., 13th Edition

In the U.S. pet market, consumers view pets as family. Pet marketers know that Millennial consumers - aged between 18 and 34 - not only have pets of their own, but are also ready to coddle them using the most sustainable (and sometimes economic) ways possible. The organic pet food industry generates billions of dollars each year, driven by younger current and prospective pet owners.  Trends in pet food are increasingly bending to a millennial cohort that wields significant buying power, an impact Packaged Facts explores in our report, Millennials as Pet Market Consumers.

The Organic Pet Food Industry

The trend toward natural, organic pet products is nothing new in the U.S. pet market, especially as product lines both big and small respond to organic pet industry trends. Traditionally baby boomers have dominated the pet market consumer landscape and set trends in pet food. Pet owners aged 40 to 54 spend the most on pet products, but since they spend less after reaching the age of 60, and because more and more baby boomers have reached or are closing in on their 60th birthday,  millennial spending on pets is bound to set trends in the pet food industry. 

More millennial pet owners brought up in an increasingly health-conscious U.S. - and fewer baby boomers - predicates an upward trajectory for the trend toward organic pet food. Packaged Facts’ National Online Consumer Survey data identify 1 in 3 of U.S. pet owners as millennials, responsible for 43% of pet owner growth between 2007 and 2015. As millennials get older and their budgets increase, natural pet food market growth will become increasingly apparent. 

Millennials as Pet Market Consumers

Packaged Facts' report, Millennials as Pet Market Consumers, covers trends in pet food, particularly millennials' impact on the pet products market and their inclination toward natural, organic pet food products. The report's most telling results include:

  • More than half (55%) of millennial pet owners are willing to try holistic and natural-branded nutritional pet supplements before resorting to conventional pet medication, as opposed to only 30% of owners 35 and over. When the only option left is to buy conventional pet medication however, more than half (52%) of millennials buy meds oppose to only 28% of any other demographic.
  • Nearly three-quarters (69%) of millennial pet owners are more likely to consider foods whose recipes use naturally-made ingredients over “normal,” mass-produced foods, versus fewer than half (44%) of owners over 35.
  • Three-quarters (75%) of millennial dog owners agree that fear of pet food contamination or product safety is a key consideration in the foods they buy, compared to only 66% of their older counterparts. Almost two-thirds (64%) of millennial cat owners compared to just 49% of other owners are likely to feel the same way. Today, pet food companies are increasingly vigilant in their internal protocols for indentifying safety issues, and it’s not uncommon for companies to recall as much as a week’s worth of product when just one line of product is found to be contaminated. One pet company, Evanger's Dog and Cat Food, did just this in February 2017 after a potential contaminant was found in one of its products. The food was linked to illness in five dogs that ate it (and one of the dogs died).
  • Millennials are on the lookout for products whose labeling is transparent and green, and are most likely to use pet foods with formulations geared toward enhancing the health of their pets, including pet foods characterized as organic, holistic, non-GMO, and grain-free.

Millennials & Organic Pet Food 

The pet food market’s consumer landscape is changing, with the organic pet food industry trending toward younger, informed consumers. Packaged Facts’ blog post For pet marketers, the natural and organic segment is competitive catnip noted the growing importance natural and organic ingredients have in pet foods. Transparency in pet products’ content and sourcing is even more significant if pet marketers want to attract the millennial pet owner. One logical (and profitable) response is producing and promoting organic pet food products whose green contents are clearly labeled. If pet markets can reassure millennial owners their pets will be happy, healthy family members, the pet food industry will have a long-lived future of its own.

For U.S. pet market sales projections and the most crucial trends in pet food, visit Packaged Facts' report, U.S. Pet Market Outlook, 2017-2018, which examines the most important developments shaping pet market size and the organic pet industry's overall growth. 

Discover more about the growing U.S. pet products & services industry in Packaged Facts' pet market research reports. You can also find more information regarding the natural pet food industry through our pet food market reports.

-- Noah Miller