Market Focus - Pet Owners: It's Raining Cat and Dog Lovers
Geoff Mott, president of PetGadgets.com, on the other hand, says 80 percent of the site’s buyers are women. “Our predominant readership is female,” agrees Lisa Evans, circulation director for Belvoir Media, which publishes Whole Dog Journal, Dog Watch and Cat Watch. “More women make purchasing decisions for the pets than men, and when we’ve done testing, women respond better to the lists.”
While people often joke about treating their pets as children, sales figures show this statement to be true. Ellen Blumenkrantz, an independent list broker who works with one of the largest pet mailers in the industry, says households without children—whether due to the adults being childless or to the children having moved away from home—tend to spend more on their pets than households where children are present.
Manufacturers that have traditionally served only humans have launched pet products lines. Paul Mitchell, for example, has a line of shampoos and conditioners for pets, while the upscale body product company Origins boasts a high-end silky coat dog shampoo. The online meat delivery company Omaha Steaks sells steak treats. Harley-Davidson sells collars, bowls, caps and faux leather dog jackets, all bearing the Harley-Davidson logo. “Babies have monitoring systems, and people are doing that with their furry friends,” says Mott, thanks to devices that let you monitor your pet remotely. “Eye drops, the snore stop, massage beds, stair assistance—there are tons of human products being adapted for pets,” he describes.
Such developments result from increased discretionary income along with changes in pet owner perception as to what’s appropriate for their animal companions. Dog owners used to leave their animals outside with no protection, for example, whereas today’s standards require a dog house—perhaps even one that’s insulated—and that’s hardly the limit to what’s possible as is demonstrated by the climate-controlled pet carriers coming onto the market. “Would you buy a home or car that doesn’t have heat?” asks Robert Inello, president and CEO of Komfort Pets.