A Dog’s Life

Feb 11, 2005

By George Anderson

It’s not news that most Americans think of their family dog as part of, well, the family. What’s surprising to those who don’t own dogs themselves and downright upsetting to some in families who do is when the pooch in residence gets treated better than the humans.

Today, Fidos, from purebreds to the Heinz 57 variety, are getting the star treatment with everything from specially formulated foods and treats to luxury bedding, toys, clothing, etc.

According to a USA Today report, the pet industry has doubled in size over the past 10 years to the point where sales have reach $34 billion annually. The biggest area of growth has been in the hi-end of the market.

Bob Vetere, chief operating officer of the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, said a number of factors are driving the spoiling of America’s pets, including people marrying later and an increase in empty nesters. An uncertain economy has also played a role. “While the U.S. economy has suffered these last couple of years, the pet industry has not mirrored it,” he said. “As Americans have felt more insecure and less sure of the world around them, they’re turning to pets for solace.”

Moderator’s Comment: What does America’s love for its four-legged family members mean for retailers looking to grow their pet category business?

Working from a home office, we bring our Border Terrier to work every day, whether we want to or not. While reading the USA Today piece, we learned
that there is actually a “Bring Your Dog To Work Day.” The event was begun seven years ago by the Pet Sitters International organization. The first year 300 companies participated.
Last year, more than 10,000 businesses joined in.

George Anderson – Moderator

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