Peer into the abode of today’s modern millennial couple, and there’s something striking: the baby bassinet is missing and in its place is a perfectly plush dog bed.
Millennials, as the largest consumer group, are the ultimate game-changers for pet food companies and product retailers.
Millennial family portraits: Pet parents and the pooch
The modern millennial family is being formed with pets instead of, or well before, the much later addition of children. As such, for pet companies and retailers, the ubiquitous “millennial mom” being chased by most major mainstream brands today is instead the powerful pet parent.
These pet parents are more than willing to reach deep into their bank accounts for their beloved beasts. But they also possess similar characteristics to the traditional millennial mom: a demand for convenience, transparency and sustainability in the products they purchase.
New to the pet-purchasing scene: Socially conscious spenders
Now that millennials have reached the point in their lives to be engaged consumers with expendable incomes, big brands’ boardrooms are paying heed to the group’s demands and desires. While there is much negative stereotyping about the generation, millennials have matured into a group of socially aware consumers. With this comes a demand that the brands that they purchase are transparent about every aspect of their business, from the types and sources of their ingredients to the manufacturing processes and even sustainability initiatives in place at the corporate level.
Small brands are in the spotlight
The distrust that millennials have for large corporations has led to an embracing of smaller brands with a real message that feels personal to them. This is particularly evident in regard to ingredient sourcing and sustainability initiatives. Small brands have made a name for themselves by displaying their quality ingredients with transparency. Similarly, brands that tout the sustainability of their foods’ ingredients receive high marks from this generation.
In the past, many of these smaller brands were ignored by the big players in the industry, but now those brands are prime targets for acquisition. Recognizing what these small players are doing right but realizing the inherent challenge for a large firm to morph into this new image is the precise reason behind these purchases.
But a strong story with healthy, wholesome ingredients is not enough for millennials. Convenience is critical.
Special delivery for Fido
The online market for pet products has exploded recently. PetSmart purchased chewy.com in the largest e-commerce acquisition to date in order to rev up its lagging presence in the online space. Amazon Prime has set the expectation, and now today’s busy consumer can’t understand not having the option of fast, free delivery to their door. Brands without a value proposition for online convenience will be left behind.
Four-legged social media stars
Finally, companies must learn to embrace the new normal of pets as children. Social media is where we see the strongest evidence of the role that pets play in people’s lives. Pets themselves are commanding their own online “pack” of followers on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. The Huffington Post even published an article in March 2017 listing the best dogs to follow on Instagram. Obviously, the dogs are not posting, but their “parents” are, and these adorable pets and their antics are winning quick acclaim with generations that have grown up with cruising cat videos on YouTube.
Just as grain-free sparked a revolution in the pet food industry, now millennials are fanning the flames of a new normal.