1) What are consumers' top priorities for pet wellbeing? 

Scott Steinford, CEO, Trust Transparency Consulting: “Consumers desire more years of healthy living for pets and humans. In both sectors, supplements are an integral tool for healthier living. Unfortunately, the marketing to longevity and vitality is undefined and subjective. Current and future consumers of supplements will seek more substantiation and clarity around the claims presented.” 

Michelle Lancaster, Chief Operating Officer, Pet Nutraceuticals: “Sadly, roughly 60% of dogs in the U.S. were classified as overweight or obese, according to a study conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention in 2020. Consumers desire products that can support their pet’s daily health and improve areas such as an imperfect diet or weight. More broadly, consumers look to improve their pet’s gut, oral, skin, and joint health, as well as soothe uneasiness and better manage blood glucose levels.” 

Matthew Terrill, CEO/Founder, ChefPaw/Innovet Pet Products: “Recently at ChefPaw, we've observed a significant shift in consumer priorities, with a predominant focus on pet nutrition and diet. More than ever, pet owners are keen on providing diets that are not only nutritious but also specifically tailored to meet the unique needs of their pets. Parallel to this trend, our experience at Innovet Pet Products reinforces that pet owners place immense importance on their pets' overall health, often considering it their top priority. This encompasses a broad spectrum of health aspects, including joint health, hygiene, skin and coat maintenance, and dental care. To maintain these areas, pet owners frequently turn to supplements and adhere to regular at-home hygiene practices, such as ear cleaning, dental care, and regular baths. Additionally, we've noticed a growing preference among pet owners for all-natural products, reflecting a deeper awareness and concern for the quality and source of pet care items.” 

Julianne Gardner, Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Stratum Nutrition: “Pet owners face several responsibilities and concerns, encompassing both physical and mental well-being. Health worries include preventing illnesses, providing proper nutrition, and addressing mental health issues like anxiety, depression and boredom. Financial considerations, including vet bills and ongoing expenses, require careful planning and budgeting. Behavioral challenges like destructive chewing and excessive barking can test owners, emphasizing the importance of training. Finding trustworthy pet care during absences is crucial, whether through a pet sitter or kennel. As pets age, end-of-life care decisions become inevitable, adding an emotional dimension to the journey of loving a pet. These consumers' concerns can mount up similarly to parents’ concerns when raising a child. Statistics have shown that Millennials are more likely to be solely pet owners than parents, so these parental-like concerns have become a lot more common, though pets have been seen as family members for people in all age groups, with or without kids, for many, many years.” 

2) What are the latest trends and innovations? 

GettyImages-992637094.jpgGardner: “The pet care industry has seen a significant increase in pet ownership since the beginning of the pandemic with more people working from home, and a deeper understanding of animal needs. There’s been a shift from traditional approaches to a future steeped in science, technology, and personalized solutions with customization, convenience, and innovation being the guiding principles. 

“Personalized nutrition is a forefront trend, leveraging pet genomics to create tailored food plans. Mental wellness is gaining prominence, with products like calming aids, interactive toys, and aromatherapy diffusers catering to pets' emotional needs. Wearable technology, including smart collars, tracks pets' activity, sleep, and heart rate, providing valuable health insights. Televet services are enabling remote consultations, revolutionizing access to veterinary care. AI-powered smart home devices recognize and respond to pets' behavior, ensuring their well-being in real-time. Sustainability has become a growing concern, with eco-friendly packaging, recycled toys, and plant-based pet food options gaining popularity.” 

Steinford: “COVID-19 greatly accelerated the ‘humanization’ of pets by their owners. Pets are now more likely to be regarded as family members to be loved instead of possessions. As customers look for longevity and vitality products, science and substantiation will become 

increasingly important. Additionally, as the number of pet products grow, differentiation will become more complex, allowing the demand for proof of product and promise to become more of a requirement by the customer.” 

Lancaster: “Pet owners are emotionally drawn to providing the same level of care for their pets as themselves, or even better. As such, the number of pet supplements on the market has been steadily increasing, especially all-natural products. As the choices become more confusing, we see consumers looking for products that are simple to use and have powerful pet health benefits, not just for digestive health but for overall pet well-being. The more savvy consumers will expect products and ingredients with clinically proven benefits. In addition, more people are reading the nutrition labels and want their pet products to be made without fillers, synthetics, corn and wheat, or artificial additives. One innovation in this area is the newly launched Corecare Daily Canine soft chew by PetNutra. These chewable daily supplements offer pet owners a product with clinically studied ingredients, including the citrus bioflavonoid blend, NU BIOFLAVONOIDS, which has been shown to positively affect the microbiome, boost GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1), support a healthy insulin response and blood sugar levels, and promote antioxidant activity. The chews also include S. boulardii, Yucca, quillaia saponins, and functional yeast to support overall pet health.” 

Terrill: “Two of the most notable trends in this area are homemade dog food and the use of CBD/hemp products for pets. Cooking at home for dogs has become a significant trend among pet owners who are deeply concerned about their pet's nutrition. This practice allows owners to have full control over their pet's diet. By preparing meals themselves, owners can ensure that their pets are getting fresh, wholesome ingredients without the additives and preservatives often found in commercial pet foods. This approach also allows for the diet to be tailored to the specific needs of the pet, whether it's addressing allergies, weight management, or specific health conditions. Moreover, homemade diets can be augmented with additional supplements to boost nutritional value and cater to any specific health requirements of the pet. 

“Over the past few years, CBD and hemp products have made a significant impact in the pet care industry. These products are being used for a variety of health-related reasons including stress relief, pain management, and as anti-inflammatory agents. The benefits of CBD for pets are backed by a growing body of research, which is continually discovering new ways these products can be used to improve pet health and wellbeing. Pet owners are increasingly turning to CBD and hemp products as a natural alternative to traditional medications, especially for pets with chronic conditions or those experiencing anxiety and stress.” 

3) What challenges are impacting this space? 

Steinford: “Education is among the primary catalysts for customer retention. Technology tools are increasingly providing better and faster access to data detailing the benefits and substantiation of products. To date, apps and well-informed web content offer an opportunity to educate your staff and the customer. True market leaders are replacing current tech with AI and blockchain solutions for a Web3 tomorrow. Ask your brands for tools to help sell products through scalable technology.” 

Gardner: “The pet care industry faces challenges such as global disruptions, changing consumer demands, and competition. Supply chain issues, resulting in shortages and price increases, urge retailers to diversify suppliers, implement smart inventory management, and keep customers informed. Evolving consumer demands include a desire for personalized nutrition, sustainable toys, and telehealth consultations. Retailers can meet these demands by offering breed-specific items, eco-friendly options, and convenient online services. In a competitive landscape dominated by online giants, retailers can stand out through strong branding, data-driven strategies, and strategic partnerships. Discerning pet parents can play a role by supporting local businesses, researching products, and choosing brands that align with their values, fostering unique experiences for both them and their pets. 

Terrill: "My advice to retailers and brands: 

Focus on Transparency and Education: Retailers and brands should prioritize transparency in their product sourcing and ingredient lists. Educating consumers about the benefits and limitations of products can help build trust and loyalty. 

Offer a Range of Options: Providing a range of products at different price points can help cater to a wider audience. It’s important to offer quality options that are accessible to pet owners with varying budgets. 

Prioritize Quality and Affordability: We founded Innovet in 2005 and since then our main goal has been to provide innovative solutions to an array of health issues that pet owners run into at an affordable price. We believe that it’s crucial to balance product quality with affordability.” 


4) What do you see on the horizon for this market? 

Steinford: The pet nutrition market will continue to evolve like the human nutrition market. Not long ago, pet marketing came down to Bacon, Bacon, Bacon and Meow, Meow, Meow. Today's consumer often looks for quality over price, therapeutic dosages of quality ingredients, and science to support the label claims. Recognizing the importance of education for your staff and the customer is essential."

Lancaster: “The growth of the pet supplements market has held steady and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.9% from 2022 to 2030, making this a $3.2 billion market. We anticipate that people will continue to spend a premium on products that can support a healthier lifestyle for their pets. This includes whole foods with minimal ingredients, supplements, and fortified treats. We also expect consumers to ask more about traceability and sustainability initiatives for finished products.” 

Terrill: "The future of the pet sector appears to be extremely promising, largely due to its consistent growth and resilience. Given the deep-rooted affection and care that humans have for their pets, this market is expected to continue thriving, especially in certain segments.

    • Continued Growth of the Pet Industry: The pet industry is anticipated to expand at an accelerated pace in the coming years. This growth is driven by the enduring bond between humans and their pets, with pet owners increasingly focusing on ensuring their pets' health and happiness.
    • Rise of Fresh and Natural Pet Food: There's a clear trend toward fresh pet food and all-natural product categories. This shift aligns with the growing consumer concerns and priorities about pet nutrition and overall health. More pet owners are seeking out foods that are not only nutritious but also free from artificial additives and preservatives.
    • Homemade Pet Food Trend: The trend of preparing homemade pet food is expected to gain more traction. This approach allows pet owners to tailor their pet's diet to specific needs and preferences, offering a level of customization and control that commercial foods might not provide.
    • Popularity of All-Natural Products and Supplements: With an increasing emphasis on natural and holistic care, products such as supplements that are derived from natural sources are set to become more popular. This trend is fueled by a growing awareness of the health benefits of natural ingredients and a preference for sustainable, eco-friendly products.
    • Influence of Younger Generations: Younger generations, who are just as passionate about their pets as previous generations, are likely to continue driving these trends. Their values, which often include a focus on sustainability, health, and ethical consumption, will shape the future of pet care products and services."

Gardner:  "Biotics for pet health are still an up and coming trend for pet health that can encompass more categories than just gut wellbeing. The biotics category itself can vary widely, depending on if the biotic used is a prebiotic, a probiotic, or a postbiotic. Prebiotics and postbiotics are much easier to formulate with because they are not limited to manufacturing processes that can keep live organisms like probiotics viable. There was a pandemic pet boom, and now pet parents are figuring out solutions to the longer lasting mental health issues that have developed, such as separation anxiety and socialization anxiety. So, mental health and mood will continue to trend for the pet market. As said above, there are more and more people living solely with pets, and this means there is a higher budget and more intention on keeping pets spry and living their best lives longer. Healthy aging ingredients for joint health will be key to invest in to keep pets mobile, and thus healthy and happy, longer." WF