All Creatures Large and Small: A Boom in Market for “Other” Pets

Press Release
Aug 31, 2021

Rockville MD, August 31, 2021 – A pandemic-driven acquisition spree raised ownership of pets other than dogs and cats to the highest level in a decade for three of the four main “other pet” types, with pet birds being the exception.  In the wake of COVID-19, according to a new Packaged Facts report on Fish, Small Mammal, Herptile, and Bird Products, 12.2% of all U.S. households own one (or more) type of pet other than dogs and cats, up from 10.8% five years ago.

Now at $2.8 million, the retail market for fish, small mammal, reptile/amphibian, and bird products posted sales increases across categories in 2020, resulting in a 18.5% sales increase that exceeded even the unprecedented 15.8% growth experienced by the retail pet products sector overall.

Despite the economic set-backs and uncertainties since COVID-19, Packaged Facts survey results from June 2021 show that only 4% of other pet owners decreased their pet spending in the previous 12 months, while 33% increased it. “Product premiumization plays a part in this spending increase,” according to report analyst Shannon Brown, “with these other pet owners following the pattern of dog and cat owners in seeking out costlier natural foods and more design- and eco-conscious non-food products such as bedding, habitats/enclosures, and toys.”

Why do millions of Americans opt for fish, small animals, reptiles, and birds? Nearly two-thirds of other pet owners (65%) enjoy keeping them because they are fun to watch and observe, according to Packaged Facts survey data.  Over half (52%) simply love this type of pet. Other common motivations include these pet being fun to interact with, adding liveliness to the home, and providing companionship.

These motivations provide clear context for the pandemic-driven other pet acquisition boom. With the stay-at-home, school-from-home dynamics earlier in the crisis and the ongoing waves of COVID-19 infection, home-centric households are relying on various types of pets—and often on multiple types of pets, all as part of the family—for adult and child activities, comfort, and companionship. Even when pandemic restrictions ease and online classes become options, most households will continue to cherish these pets, such that continued market growth is projected in the coming years.

Marketers in the other pets market would do well to position on both function and “fun” while expanding their product ranges, according to Packaged Facts, and retailers should find success in products that allow people to interact with various types of pets in safe, enjoyable ways while keeping all creatures involved healthy and happy.

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