Millennial pet owners have more health information at their fingertips in regard to their furry companions than their predecessors, said Dr. Ernie Ward, DVM, CVFT and founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). That makes them more in tune with their pet’s health and leads them to seek out specific products that can help their pets stay leaner and stronger.
While digital options have increased in recent years that can help discerning pet owners find treats with what Dr. Ward calls a “functional benefit,” he stressed that physical stores were extremely important to the modern pet parent.
“Grocery stores and supermarkets are a common purchasing point for pet owners,” said Ward, adding that “accessibility is the key.”
Ward said that unlike the generations before them, younger pet owners expect a more varied selection in grocery aisles as well as pet food offerings that specifically promote health and wellness.
“If you’re selecting products [for your shelves] you need to have a narrative that revolves around safety and quality assurance,” said Ward.
He said that terms such as “corn-free,” “gluten-free” and “organic,” resonate well with consumers, even if the products that they are emblazoned on are a bit over-hyped in regard to actual health benefits.
Ward also said that products that promote skin and coat maintenance as well as oral health were attention-grabbers for pet-owning clientele.
“We can argue about the merits of the science all we want,” said Ward while discussing the power of marketing and what draws the eye of millennial pet owners, “[but] these trends continue to evolve.”
Millennials have also championed treating their pets more similarly to human children than perhaps older shoppers did, celebrating special events such as birthdays or buying pets presents for the sake of spoiling them.
Ward says that similar practices extend to how pet owners address their animal’s diet. He said that he’s seen an uptick in humans asking how they can tailor their pet’s diet to mirror their own such as vegetarianism or paleo.
Ultimately, Ward’s observations suggest that a physical store that markets a variety of options, which stress a healthful lifestyle, will succeed in gaining the attention of the modern pet owner.