From 2010 to 2014, the overall rate of pet ownership has held fairly steady, going from 53% of U.S. households to almost 54%. This equates to 61 million households in 2010 vs. 64 million in 2014, according to U.S. Pet Market Outlook, 2015-2016, a new report by market research publisher Packaged Facts.
The percentage of households that own dogs has held steady for the last four years, at about 38%. Since 2008, almost 6 million more dog-owning households have come into the market. Households with cats have basically stayed flat between 2008 and 2014. In 2014, about 25% of U.S. households had cats, or about 30 million households. Overall, more than half of U.S. households own either a dog or a cat. Among other animal types, reptiles have seen something of an increase in popularity from 2010 to 2014. In contrast, households with fish have declined.
The age bracket from 18-44 (Millennials and Gen Xers) represents a combined 27 million pet owners as of 2014, or almost 2 million more than the next major bracket (45-64, essentially Baby Boomers). Pet ownership has shown marked gains among Gen Y adults over the past few years, as ownership rate was just 50% as recently as 2010 but reached 59% in 2014 and was as high as 66% in 2012.
Despite the strong tendency toward pet ownership among 18-44 year olds, it’s Baby Boomers who are poised to be the pet industry’s most influential demographic group. Boomers have broken the historical pattern of slacking off in pet ownership as they age. Instead, they have superimposed their proclivities toward health/wellness and self-pampering onto their pets. In and of itself, this is very good news. But the news gets even better in that Boomers are rapidly aging into the senior bracket (the oldest Boomers turn 69 in 2015). If Boomers’ “rule-breaking” behavior with regard to pet ownership continues, the result will be robust pet market participation in the senior cohort, where pet ownership rates have historically been far below average. On the other hand, if Boomers retroactively revert to traditional patterns of reduced pet ownership among seniors, the market may find itself challenged indeed. Packaged Facts views this latter scenario as less likely, and instead expects the aging Boomer to help drive market growth for many years to come.