There’s little debate that the pet humanization trend and the rise of pet parenting have created new dynamics and growth opportunities in the U.S. pet industry. The devotion consumers feel toward their pets extends not just to the careful selection of foods and services, but also to the toys, beds, bowls, and other durable products they purchase. One of the hottest trends among these products is the incorporation of high-tech “smart” features and automation that creates a “connected” lifestyle between pet parents and their fur babies, according to market research firm Packaged Facts in the new report Durable Dog and Cat Petcare Products, 2nd Edition.
The demand for high-tech options has spurred innovations across the entire product spectrum and as a result smart products are appearing in every pet durables category.
“Americans love their pets. And they love their devices. Pet tech products satisfy both affections by creating a closer bond between pet and owner, and by using technology to make petcare easier,” says David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts. “Make no mistake, pet tech is big business, and products that can connect pet owners with their pets, whether via Bluetooth, over WiFi, or using a home network, are in high demand.”
Packaged Facts data show that tech-based “smart” durable petcare products accounted for 8% of the $5 billion durables market, with sales of $400 million for 2017. In the report, durable petcare products include toys; collars, leashes, and harnesses; beds; carriers, crates, and housing; bowls, feeders, and waterers; apparel and fashion accessories; and litter boxes and accessories.
“Smart” pet durable products part of larger retail trend
The trend toward connected products is part of the much larger trend in the consumer packaged goods market, with U.S. consumers using the Internet to connect themselves to brands, companies, and other consumers, not to mention marketers increasing their market penetration via e-commerce sites and social media. Using technology to connect is already part of the daily lives of most pet owners, so it is only natural that they would turn to technology to help them connect with their pets.
“Smart” pet products focus on convenience and wellness
Many technology-focused products work in tandem with smartphone or desktop apps that allow pet owners to interact with the products and their makers, and Packaged Facts expects such “smart products” to play a far greater and more multifaceted role in 2018 and beyond. A key benefit is convenience, with most smart products designed to make petcare easier. It’s a potent appeal.
In proprietary surveys of U.S. pet owners conducted by Packaged Facts, “product will save time/make my life easier” is a top purchase motivator for automated products, including litter boxes, feeders, waterers, toys, training devices, and pet doors. Already, products designed to perform a service are well-established segments of categories formerly limited to manual items, from self-cleaning litter boxes to automated feeders to collars with Bluetooth monitoring capabilities, and it’s expected that the category range will expand and the products to get smarter and smarter. Covering numerous bases is the new Wagz line of integrated smart pet solutions, all of which are controlled through a single smartphone app. At the heart of the Wagz system is a smart dog collar, which connects with a suite of products including a smart dog feeder, smart dog door, smart treat dispenser, and smart water dish.
Along with convenience, another important feature sought after in smart products, as with pet products in general, is enhanced pet health. Packaged Facts expects products that monitor a pet’s activities, vital signs, body functions, location, and so on to become a norm among engaged pet owners, enabling them to detect health problems—and spurring them to take action—earlier on. Such products will increasingly interface with petcare services, with product makers, marketers, and service providers working together (or merging) to create new paradigms of pet monitoring. In-home and on-pet and/or on-pet-owner devices will connect to e-commerce operations representing both products and services, providing health alerts and petcare recommendations, and allowing pet owners to interface directly with veterinarians and other petcare service providers. In the CTA report noted above, 46% of pet tech users reported using an app or software based platform that delivers pet health data directly to their vet.