I can think of no better way to start 2014 than with a look at 2014 pet industry trends. Multibrief's Pet Businesses Will Prosper: Industry trends for 2014 and beyond provides such an outlook.
According to the article, the pet industry is forecast to continue to grow driven in large part by the pet humanization trend. This is the growing trend of people treating their pets as family members and more like humans instead of animals.
Today there is a large demand in specialized diets for dogs, cats, birds and even reptiles, as well as specialized treats and supplements for a number of different household pets.
Demand has also increased for specialized pet services such as dog walking and training. Premium services such as pet therapy sessions, full-service boarding in doggy hotels and even pet-only airplane flights have been increasing in popularity as well.
The pet industry is mostly made of small businesses. According to a 2011 IBIS World report, there are about 45,000 pet stores in the U.S. and the vast majority employ less than 8 employees.
While the two large national chains - PetCo and PetSmart - account for a bit over half of all retail sales, smaller firms also earn about half of the industry's revenue.
Two strong demographic trends support the continued growth in pets being treated like humans: (1) baby boomers are turning to pets as family and friend substitutes as they age; and, (2) growing numbers of younger singles and childless couples are also turning to pets.
Because of these demographic forces, we expect the $60 billion U.S. pet industry to continue to outgrow the general economy over the next 5 years.
Regular readers will recognize Chico, my favorite humanized pet, in the picture. Chico and his parents visited us this holiday season.
Chico was allowed to sit at the table to help with puzzles, but I didn't let him sit there during meals. This, of course, hurt Chico's feelings. But I'm sure his therapist will help him through this trauma and the other slights he had to endure while at our house.