THERE is a lot more to the pet industry than dogs and cats. While research into the human/animal bond tends to focus on the special relationship between people and dogs that has evolved over thousands of years, today's pet owners do not limit their connection with animals to dogs or cats.
A wide range of other animals have found their way into the households and affections of pet lovers.
According to "Pet Population & Pet Owner Trends in the U.S.," a new report from market research firm Packaged Facts, American pet owners live in the company of 116 million fish, birds, small animals and reptiles. Fish tanks can be found in 7.2 million households and bird cages in 4.6 million households. Reptiles are pets in 1.8 million households. Rabbits live with 2.5 million adults.
These pet owners represent big business for the pet industry. They groom and board their birds, buy toys for their iguanas, purchase medications for their turtles, take their gerbils to the veterinarian, light and decorate their fish tanks and, of course, buy food for these pets.
The spending power of owners of pets other than cats and dogs has a significant impact on the bottom line of marketers and retailers of pet products and services, the announcement said.
After a noticeable recessionary slump, ownership of fish, birds and small animals is on the rebound, according to David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts. Marketers can take advantage of an improving market by leveraging the connection consumers have with their pets.
A recurring theme of the report is the critical role parents and children play in this segment of the pet market.
Compared to pet owners who have cats and dogs exclusively, owners of fish, reptiles and small animals are much more likely to have children under the age of 18 in their households (57% versus 34%). Nearly 90% of households with hamsters have children, and 87% of these have children under the age of 12. Around 60% of households with fish, rabbits and reptiles have children under the age of 18.
Thus, children and their parents are at the heart of the market for fish, reptiles and small animals and represent a key factor in the post-recession recovery and long-term growth prospects of the pet industry.
Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com, publishes market intelligence on a wide range of consumer market topics, including consumer demographics and shopper insights, consumer financial products and services, consumer goods and retailing, consumer packaged goods (including foods and beverages, health and beauty care and household products) and pet products and services.