Pet Population and Ownership Trends in the U.S.: Dogs, Cats, and Other Pets, 2nd Edition

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Published May 19, 2017 | 174 Pages | Pub ID: LA5866893
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Pet Population and Ownership Trends in the U.S.: Dogs, Cats, and Other Pets, 2nd Edition

The idea of pet ownership remains firmly imbedded in the American psyche. No matter where American pet owners live and whatever their age or ethnicity, they stand united in believing that their pets make a positive contribution to their lives. For example, more than 90% of dog owners across a wide range of demographic segments agree that their dog has a positive impact on their mental or physical health. The profound connection between pet owners and their pets leads three in four pet dog or cat owners to admit that they enjoy buying pet products that pamper their pets.

Yet, besides shedding light on the common ground inhabited by pet owners, this new Packaged Facts report uncovers stark differences among pet owners that can pose significant challenges for retailers and marketers. The way pet owners view their pets and the criteria they use when deciding which pet products to buy are closely tied to whether they live in urban areas, suburban or outer suburban locales, or rural parts of the country.

For example, compared to rural pet owners, the report finds that urban pet owners are much more likely to agree that they have pets with special nutrition needs or to be concerned about their pets having food allergies or intolerances. Urban pet owners also are much more likely than their rural counterparts to agree that natural/organic brand pet products are often better than standard national brand products or to concur with the statement that fear of pet food contamination/product safety is a key consideration in the dog foods they buy.

The report also identifies a number of demographic trends that likely will hearten marketers and retailers in the pet industry. For one thing, Millennials clearly have bought into the idea of pet ownership. Those in the 18- to 34-year-old age group already have the highest likelihood of owning a pet, while 43% of those in this key demographic cohort who do not have a pet now say they want one in the future.

Aging Boomers offer another, perhaps unexpected, bright spot for the American pet industry. A decade ago, just 34% of adults in the 70-and-over age group owned pets. In 2015 and 2016, when the leading edge of the Boomer generation began to turn 70, this percentage jumped to around 40%. If this incipient trend continues, the overall rate of pet ownership likely will increase in coming years.

Furthermore, pet ownership has become a marker of acculturation within the rapidly expanding Latino population. As second- and third-generation Hispanics continue to make up an ever growing share of the Hispanic population in the United States, the number of Hispanic pet owners likely will continue to grow exponentially.

Scope and Methodology

This report analyzes trends in the size and characteristics of the pet population and estimates the size of the population of dogs and cats. It includes an analysis of trends in pet ownership and a demographic profile of the population of pet owners as well as highlights of the consumer behavior and attitudes of pet owners.

Consumer data in this report come from two primary sources. The first source consists of Packaged Facts National Pet Owner Surveys conducted in February, April and July 2016 and February 2017. These surveys reflect a panel of 2,000 U.S. adults (age 18+) that is balanced to the national population on the primary demographic measures of gender, age bracket, race/ethnicity, geographic region, marital status, presence or absence of children in the household and household income.

Another source of consumer data in this report is the Simmons National Consumer Study (NCS) for Summer 2016, which was fielded between October 2015 and November 2016. For trend analysis the report uses as a baseline the Fall 2006 Simmons NCS. On an ongoing basis, Simmons conducts booklet-based surveys of a large and random sample of consumers (approximately 25,000 for each 12-month survey compilation) who in aggregate represent a statistically accurate cross-section of the U.S. population.

The report is organized in terms of the categorization of pet population data collected by Simmons NCS. In addition to capturing information on the ownership of dogs and cats, Simmons NCS asks respondents to identify the number of pets they own in the following categories: fish, birds, reptiles, rabbits, hamsters and “other” pets. Small animals such as gerbils, ferrets and guinea pigs likely account for the preponderance of pets included in the “other” Simmons NCS category, although “other” pets could also include animals as diverse as horses and poultry.

The report also includes data from the 2017-2018 American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owners Survey, which was fielded in 2016. The report also cites data from a September 2016 survey conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Cohen Research Group.

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