TM0803_Market Focus, Pet Owners
By Alicia Orr Suman
Ask a dog lover to name his family members and he'll likely include Fido along with his wife and kids. "That's the nature of the pet owner," says Geoff Walker, CEO of PetFoodDirect.com, an Internet seller of pet food and other pet products.
Particularly when it comes to dogs and cats, pets are seen as part of the family, and as such, people want the best for their pets—from toys and treats to food and healthcare.
Last year, the Pet Food Institute reported there were more than 75 million pet cats and 60 million pet dogs in the United States, and that more than 50 percent of American households own at least one pet dog or cat.
Dog and Cat Lovers
With such a large universe, it's hard to generalize pet owners. For example, ages can range considerably. Almost anyone can have a dog or cat: families with kids, dual-income couples, young singles and elderly people.
In addition, socio-economic class has nothing to do with people's affinity for pets. The median household income for pet owners stands at about $31,000, according to Kevin Filippelli, senior account manager at Focus USA, list and data specialists. So it doesn't matter whether you work for minimum wage or are a high-powered executive, you're just as likely to come home and play with your dog.
If you look at pet owners who buy direct, you'll find more of what Geoff Walker calls, "petaholics." He explains that these pet owners are more likely to spend money on premium food, buy a luxury pet bed from a catalog or search the Internet for a pet pharmacy.
Petaholics also buy gifts for their furry and feathered friends: The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association cites luxury, natural and hygiene products as the top three among its top ten trends in pet gifts.