Monday, June 17, 2024

Reigning cats and dogs in a bounding market

By Cat Woods.

The pandemic era has brought major change for so many in terms of jobs, lifestyle and priorities, with challenges including confronting the loss of routines and connectivity to others. For many in Australia, though, it has presented the opportunity – thanks to working from home – to adopt or buy a pet.

According to PetRescue, Australians have been adopting thousands of dogs and cats every month throughout the pandemic, with demand outstripping supply (in NSW alone, inquiries about adoption have increased by more than 50 per cent over pre-Covid days).

The pet care market has responded accordingly, providing puppy care packs and targeting new owners with pet food, clothing, treats, grooming and bedding products. Now that lockdowns have lifted and many people are returning to workplaces, the pet care market is again adjusting to transformation.

Demand is increasing for pet distractions, such as training aids, toys and products that address the causes and behaviours associated with separation anxiety and loneliness.

The flipside to the surge in demand for dogs and cats during the height of the pandemic is that many new owners have found their finances and work commitments inappropriate to deal with the reality of veterinary and care costs, and new jobs or returns to work have proved too demanding to care for new pets.

According to the RSPCA, thousands of pets have been surrendered, primarily due to an inability to afford care.

The industry must pay attention to this. While maximising profit, catering to owners who treat their pets as an extension of their family, and anticipating owner needs and wants are elemental to business growth, the moral imperative is ensuring that basic care – food, grooming and medication provision – remains accessible and affordable.

Adequate competition in the market is important in providing consumers with ample options to meet their budget and product needs, while also ensuring motivation for pet care suppliers to innovate, establish their niche and respond to discerning consumer needs.

Animal Medicines Australia has reported that nearly 67 per cent of households in this country have a pet, and that pet numbers reached 33 million last year, outnumbering the human population.

Read more about the pet care market in the August issue of Retail World.

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