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Opportunities in small-animal product sales

Retailers shouldn’t forget about customers who own fish, birds, small animals and reptiles

Pet owners are a diverse group. While dogs and cats get most of the attention, retailers with pet aisles shouldn’t forget about fish, birds, small animals and reptiles. This group is small but passionate about their pets.

But what small pets this group prefers differs across the country.

According to a recent report on small-pet products from Packaged Facts, in the Pacific region, there’s a story strong preference for fish, reptiles and birds as pets. In the Central region, rabbits and hamsters are popular, while in the Southern regions residents are much more likely to have birds as household pets.

“These regional differences are important for both retailers and marketers of pet products for properly understanding the potential market for a given set of products in a geographic area,” according to the report.

Overall, the fish, bird, small animal and reptile market is a modest one, with sales of products for these pets reaching $2.3 billion in 2017, but there are opportunities for retailers to appeal to families with young children and Millennials.

“Millennials may be the largest generation segment of pet owners in general, but they also account for more than half of reptile, small animal and saltwater fish owners,” Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association, said in a statement releasing the group’s National Pet Owners Survey last year.

And the report from Packaged Facts found that “the single biggest factor dictating whether a household keeps fish or not is the presence of children.”

For retailers, there’s an opportunity to market products for small animals to families and young children, according to the report. Retailers in urban areas where apartment living is common have an increased opportunity.

“For many parents, particularly those with many children or who are living in smaller spaces, a small mammal is the perfect pet for their children, and children are the key factor in the equation in terms of which households have small mammals as pets,” according to the report.

“The implication here is that parents do not tend to buy small animals as pets until their children are old enough to help care for the animal as well, an important attribute for retailers to note when families come into the store.”

Contact Gloria Dawson at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @gloriadawson

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