Animals play an important role in human lives. For years animals have accompanied people in different ways and animal welfare has increased enormously during recent years in many areas. The positive effect of human-pet interaction on health and behavior has been a scientific research topic for decades and is still not fully understood. During the pandemic social isolation, and following on from this, the mega trend “social-cocooning”, the importance of our relationship with pets became even more evident. In this article we introduce the new world of pet owners, take a look inside the pet industry and discover the impact on the cosmetic market.
The new pet owner – a modern consumer
Over the last few decades pets have moved from the backyard into the home and even into our eating, working and sleeping spaces. Dogs are, globally speaking, the most common type of pet.
Demographic change does not stop short of pet ownership, and a new generation of dog, cat, and other pet lovers is now shaping the pet industry worldwide: the millennials. Confident, curious, and drawn to the digital space, they face issues concerning their pets’ health, diet and grooming that differ from those which previous generations dealt with. This gives the impression that millennial pet owners truly want to be engaged and informed even more.
Nowadays, the new pet owners want their pets to have the same quality of life they enjoy themselves. According to Mintel, 22% of Chinese consumers aged 18-49 are concerned about the lack of pet-friendly services.1 New concepts of coffee stores and restaurants welcoming pets are emerging around the world, illustrating the new wave of humanization and appreciation for pets. Several of these provide a relaxing space for companionship while others have a more serious intention like adoption, offered by the Humane Society, a US-American animal welfare organization
The new modern working world creates a dog-friendly office which can improve employees’ satisfaction with their working conditions and their quality of life, thus potentially leading to increased work productivity. Some remote workers during the pandemic have had a furry friend join one of their video calls, and for others, working from home was one more reason to become a pet owner.
With the help of their human owners, pets have also completely taken over Instagram with their daily posts. Making their pet an Instagram star, reaching thousands or even millions of followers around the globe, can make the pet owner a star themselves – becoming a pet industry business influencer. And one of the four-legged friends have even made it into the “The Year in New Yorker Photography” with a story behind the picture.2top
The digitalization of pets – a digital tsunami
Is the future of pet owners and pets becoming even more digital?
Thinking about the beginning of pet digitalization, we might look back to the 90s. Tamagotchi, a type of artificial human companion was created to revolutionize the world. A digital pet created for conviviality or enjoyment without significant limitations on real life. Was this the beginning of a digitalized pet industry?
By delivering value through digital innovation, the convenience and well-being may be enhanced for pets and their owners. According to Mintel, 88% of US pet owners agree it is important to take preventative measures to protect a pet’s health.3 Nowadays, vets talk of a real digital tsunami coming to the pet owners. More comprehensive integrated pet health platforms are on the rise. The digital platform PetPro ConnectTM exemplifies this development, connecting pet owners not only to their veterinary clinic, but also to service providers such as groomers or kennels. A diverse range of the latest and most innovative DNA tests are able to determine the exact breed, the genetic age as well as the possible allergy potentials of the pet. Understanding a pet’s genes enables the owner to choose customized care based on their unique needs and personality.
It is not only healthcare and purchasing options for pets that are becoming more versatile and digital: an entire pet daily routine can be digitally created by the pet owner. Starting with an automatic feeder in the morning, followed by real-time tracking during the day with an optimized interactive playtime and falling into a thermoregulated bed for a healthy rest.top
Pets and the cosmetics industry
What does this all mean? The future of pet-human interaction is digital and integrated. But what role do pets play for the cosmetics industry? Looking behind the scenes of the cosmetic industry we need to admit the ambivalent relationship between science and the moral dilemma of animal testing methods for safety of cosmetic ingredients and products. Fortunately, a change in thinking has taken place and animal testing for cosmetics has been banned in the EU by the EU Commission since 2003.
There are different labels and regulations for recognizing human cosmetic products free of animal testing on the market. But there is also a movement concerning animal care product regulations. The newly introduced category for animal care products from the EU Commission (October 2021) will give pet owners the possibility to shop for goods for their companions with the same confidence that is already provided by the cosmetics industry, and will guarantee that these products are not tested on animals.
A current topic in the cosmetics industry is the skin microbiome. Several studies have been performed to describe the microbiota of various body regions in humans, including the skin. In veterinary medicine, fewer studies regarding the microbiota in animals have been performed. One study looked at how the microbiota in dogs change with atopic flares and treatments, and found that treatment results in normalization of the bacterial communities. Dogs with allergic skin disease, such as atopic dermatitis, are colonized by a different microbiota than healthy dogs. Other interesting studies also examine how the microbiota is exchanged between animals and their owners and whether it influences each other. However, this is a growing area of important research.4top
Pet Industry – the hidden champion?
Now let us talk business. The $100 billion pet industry is poised to nearly triple to $275 billion by 2030 thanks to a surge in new owners, favorable demographics and increased per-pet spending.5
The pet industry has traditionally consisted of a handful of product categories: food, toys, beds, leashes, hygiene and pet grooming. The pet food segment is one of the most significant and innovative parts of the pet industry. The niche section of the cosmetic industry is hygiene care and pet grooming products and is projected to grow. The trend towards natural cosmetics based on natural active ingredients for humans is increasingly being transferred to animal care too. Nowadays the classic dog salon is transformed into a well-being oasis with a holistic approach for pets and pet owners. “Pet parents” wish for care products which fit the individual needs of their domestic animal.
Shampoos are the most common pet care formulations, but other types of products like rinse-off and leave-in sprays or oils are becoming more popular. Brands are also marketing product lines for individual pet skin needs, e.g. for dry or sensitive skin. We also see more products dedicated to different types of fur as well as conditioners and supplements for smooth and shiny hair.
Moisturizing skin and fur is the main approach for pet grooming products. For most dogs and cats dry and itchy skin is often uncomfortable. Worse, repeated scratching can lead to chronic wounds and infections and we may not notice because of their fur coats. Vitamin F forte with natural essential free fatty acids protects dry, stressed and sensitive skin and acts as conditioner for animal fur.
What also plays an important role in pet care marketing are product benefits for the pet owner, usually addressing convenience, e.g. shampoos that help with fur shedding or decrease odor, but also products that promise to reduce allergens in pet skin. The market for pet grooming products is growing strongly and we are going to see even more product innovations and differentiations as well as marketing concepts beyond convenience claims. Pets have become precious companions and family members to many consumers and pet spending is proving increasingly resilient to changes in disposable income. The relationship between pet owners and a brand will extend far beyond the act of purchase. The future focus will be on: human-animal relations, animal health and welfare, luxury and sustainability for all business areas.
How does it fit with CLR? We take pet skincare as seriously as the pet owner’s skincare. And what would the CLR Bear mascot say? “It’s all about pets!”
(1) Mintel: “This week in Trends” (01/2022)
(2) The New Yorker: “The Year in New Yorker Photography” (12/2021)
(3) Mintel: “What’s trending in Pet Care” (07/2021)
(4) Bradley, Morris, Rankin, Cain, Misic, Houser, Mauldin, Grice: Longitudinal Evaluation of the Skin Microbiome and Association with Microenvironment and Treatment in Canine Atopic Dermatitis (02/2016)
(5) Morgan Stanley: “Welcome to the Petriarchy” (03/2021)