It sure is a great time to be a pet! You’d agree with me in saying so especially nowadays when many households around the world have pet companions, from dogs, cats, birds, fish, small mammals (e.g. rabbits, guinea pigs), to even reptiles. In Australia alone pet ownership is considered to be at the highest rate in the world, with over 29 million pets in about 63% of the households in the country. This shouldn’t come as surprise so many people seek the comfort of animal friends knowing the many benefits pets provide us with that do our health and well-being so much good.
In addition, pet keeping, or rather the pet industry is also known to be of significant help for the economy, having in mind owners spend about $12.2 billion per year in Australia on various types of pet supply, equipment and services. We owe this to the baby boomers and millennials who keep setting the trends as of late, as the most numerous owners in the nation. It’s needless to point out this growing demand for changes has led to the development of the business sphere, with many individuals trying their luck in the various branches of the industry. Some of the most notable changes have been in the realm of pet foods and treats now that more owners want better nutrition than the traditional options, followed by the variety of toys for exercise and entertainment made of sustainable materials, hotels, grooming, transport and funeral services.
The Pet Industry in the Past
Humans and animals have had their connection for centuries, ever since men started domesticating dogs for help and protection around the home and Egyptians turned cats from pets into Gods. In other words, this love we now share for our pets isn’t something that’s only true for us today. In fact, many famous figures in history have been known for the love of their pets.
And yet even so, it wasn’t until the second half of the 19th century that the first pet shops started to appear, mainly focused on birds. As advertising and manufacturing progressed, so did the range of pet products and people’s interest in pet ownership. Animals weren’t only considered as necessities for labour anymore, they were sought after for their companionship. So from being mainly present in the rural areas, pet keeping was moving into the urban areas after this. The dog tax in England in 1796 is a nice proof – it appeared at a time when they estimated there to be about two million dogs on the territory of Great Britain.
Such changes brought to a shift of the interest in shopping – owners were now buying out of emotional reasons too as they wanted to better care for their pets. Not surprisingly, this was also the period when people invested more money and effort into developing versatile designs of pet furniture, gifts and toys, as the most profitable bits of pet supply that they still are today. After WWII, due to the advancements in technology, the decades of the 50s and 60s were marked by a boom in the production of improved toys and equipment, using materials like rubber, which resulted in the rise of pet shops. Of course, food wasn’t far behind either given that the first dog biscuits were made in 1860 by electrician James Spratt. They were much different than the dog food we know of nowadays that’s mainly focused on being nutritive.
The Pet Industry in the Future
As a pet-loving society, we’ve come to see a great deal of pet humanisation lately which has impacted the industry in ways unseen before. Now that our animal friends are considered to be our family members (children if you will), we want the best of the best for them. This is why the quality of supplies is constantly improving with the help of innovation.
Also, besides the changing family structures, we’ve been seeing the rise of certain trends that aim to ameliorate the quality of life for our furry friends – from day care, online vet services and pet networking (e.g. accounts on Instagram and Tinder, to pet weddings and counselling. Having in mind technology is the driving force behind this success, there’s been an increase in the e-commerce, knowing how convenient it is for us as owners. We have all the pieces of equipment and accessories at the click of a button, regardless whether shopping for furniture, hygiene, grooming, entertainment or nutrition.
The increased interest in sustainability and organic products has had its impact too which can be seen in the better choice of ingredients for the foods (e.g. more organic products emerge), toys and clothing. Hence it’s safe to say it’s all been the benefit of our pets, the economy and our animal/human interactions so far. As pet humanisation continues, so will its positive impact on the industry!