6 Things to Know About Pet Ownership in the Pandemic

There has always been a soft spot in Americans’ hearts for their pets, but that bond has only grown stronger in the past year. Confined to their homes more often than ever due to the pandemic, Americans are spending more time with their animals — and adopting new ones altogether.

For the pet products industry, the news is welcome. The question that remains, though, is how consumer behavior around the industry is changing. Below, we dive into six things you need to know about the changing pet landscape.


Americans are spending more time with their pets than ever


  1. According to the American Pet Products Association’s COVID-19 Pulse Study, more than 11 million U.S. households have gotten a new pet during the pandemic. In terms of demographics, it’s interesting to note that Gen Zs (18%) and Millennials (15%) were much more likely to get a new pet due to COVID-19 compared to Gen Xs (10%) and Baby Boomers (2%). Learn more about Millennials and their pet ownership in this infographic!


  1. The reason that people are getting new pets is rather intuitive. Seventy-three percent of respondents said that spending more time with their pets during the pandemic is helping to mitigate their stress. Over three in five also say that they’re feeling more bonded with their pet due to all the time spent together while social distancing. With humans needing time outdoors just like their furry friends, two in five are exercising more with their pets, too.


  1. The number of those getting new pets has increased steadily throughout the year, and this has led to growth across all pet categories. Pet supplies, in particular, have outpaced the growth of pet food and pet treatments. Why? Just as humans have invested in personal health and beauty habits during the pandemic, at-home pet grooming sales have surged by 27.4%. This includes items such as brushes, combs, shampoo, conditioner, and other beauty supplies.


  1. According to Nielsen, private label brands tend to lead the way in this segment — earning as much as 75% market share in some subcategories of pet grooming. However, we have seen human personal care brands such as Burt’s Bees, Hempz, and Waterpik enter the space and experience growth due to existing trust and name recognition. Even Dremel, the tool manufacturer, has created a pet nail grooming kit to help pet parents with the oft-tall task.


  1. In terms of pet food, 68% of respondents say they do not plan to make changes to their pet’s diet regardless of the economy or personal finances. An additional 55% say they consider themselves very brand loyal when shopping for pet food. However, the financial circumstances of the pandemic are certainly a consideration; twenty-three percent of consumers are worried about the expense of having a pet during the pandemic and 17% said they plan to switch to a different brand of pet food to save money.


  1. The pandemic has accelerated the shift towards e-commerce across many categories, and it’s no different for the pet industry. According to Nielsen, e-commerce accounted for 53% of pet grooming purchases from March to September — an 11-point increase compared to before the pandemic. What other categories are pet parents turning to e-commerce for aside from grooming supplies? When asked where they most recently purchased pet goods, 17% said they got pet vitamins or supplies online. Toys (16%), food (13%), treats (13%), and litter/bedding (13%) followed.


With the development and distribution of vaccines signaling a coming end to the pandemic, the pet adoption boom may slow. However, even as we head towards a new normalcy, pet parents will still be catering to their furry friends. If your brand is looking to create connections with pet owners in the coming year, contact us today to learn how our suite of brand experience solutions can help.




Sources: “COVID-19 Pulse Study: Pet Ownership During the Pandemic.” American Pet Products Association (2020), “Shoppers’ Reprioritized Sense of Self Care Leads to a Rise in DIY Pet Grooming.” Nielsen Insights (2020).

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