An alert reader sent me to the article Market Trends Show the Power of Pet Humanization. It's from the research folks at Packaged Facts. They do studies on consumer markets, including pet spending.
They recently released their 2013 - 2014 U.S. Pet Market Outlook. According to the report, the U.S. pet market will reach $62 billion in 2013, up 4.7% over 2012. Dogs garner the most spending, with about 2/3rds of all pet spending going to the dogs.
Medical and food spending are the biggest segments. But other pet products and services - which includes grooming, boarding, training, and pet sitting/walking services, etc. - is a large segment and growing faster than the overall market. It's forecast to be up 6% over 2012.
90% of the spending in the non-food/non medical segment is dog related.
Given how pets - and dogs in particular - are increasingly treated as humans, it's no surprise that the quantified self movement has moved to dogs.
For those not familiar with the quantified self trend, it's the use of tools and gadgets to self-track and analyze data on your health and life. A good example is Nike Fuel, a wristband device that tracks your movement and estimates calories burned.
Whistle is an example of a quantified dog product. It provides pretty much the same functionality Nike Fuel, except it's for your dog. It's the on-collar device the dog in the picture below is wearing.
Whistle tracks a dog's activity and health, relaying data to owners via a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection. The dog owner can use this data to collect and analyze their dog's daily activities, set exercise goals and track this data over time.
I admit I've been known from time to time to make fun of people who treat their pet as humans.
But pet humanization is an important and powerful cultural trend. Not only are aging baby boomers increasingly turning to their pets for companionship, but declines in birth rates and family formation is leading more people of all ages to use pets as family substitutes.
There's little doubt the pet humanization trend will continue to gain strength and pet spending will grow at a faster pace than the overall economy.
***Update*** - An alert reader pointed me to a recent Popular Mechanics article on the quantified dog.