There’s no denying that the pandemic has brought not just human but pet health and wellness into greater focus. Pet owners are increasingly focused on the health and well-being of their pets. Packaged Facts’ February 2023 Survey of Pet Owners underscores this awareness: approximately two-thirds of dog and cat owners agreed that they look for products to improve their pet’s health and wellness.
Opportunity 1 – Affordability
Often left behind by product trends, however, are lower-income households, who are most sharply feeling the brunt of rising prices but remain an essential market cohort, without which the overall pet industry cannot achieve its full potential. In Packaged Facts’ February 2023 Survey of Pet Owners, 25% of dog owners and 24% of cat owners indicate that the high cost of pet medications is a significant challenge to pet ownership. An even larger 43% share agree that many pet medications are too expensive.
A renewed focus on quality but affordable pet care products—including pet medications—could ease the burdens of pet ownership on lower-income households and make them a key contributor to overall market growth. Generating a larger supply of generic pet medications would do much to help jump-start this trend, and more cost-conscious products across the board will enable more lower-income households to afford pets and take optimal care of them.
Opportunity 2 – Senior Pets
Animal wellness products targeting older pets, such as joint health supplements and brain health pet foods, have surged over the past decade for a reason. With pets living longer due to advances in veterinary care and pet owner interest in pet wellness and nutrition at an all-time high, growing numbers of aging dogs and cats need immune response, heart, and cognitive support products, in addition to anti-inflammatory and pain management assistance.
In addition, older pets tend to be heavier than their younger counterparts, and with pet obesity comes other health problems, including diabetes, cardiac problems, and joint pain. The population of senior and overweight pets in the U.S. is a serious concern and growing focus for the pet products market. MRI-Simmons data indicate that the percentage of pet parents with senior pets (age 7 years or older) rose from 42% in 2012 to 52% in 2022 among dog owners, and from 48% to 52% among cat owners.
Moreover, Packaged Facts February 2023 survey data show that 19% of dog owners and 14% of cat owners have pets with aging-related special needs. By focusing research and development on senior-oriented medications, marketers can target this growing population and address many of the health issues with which older pets and their caregivers struggle.
Opportunity 3 – Bolstering the Veterinary Sector
Because approximately 70% of pet medication sales depend on a prescription from a veterinarian, pet medication sales are inextricably linked to veterinary care. A decline in veterinary visits therefore has a negative impact on the pet medications market, reducing the number of products prescribed and curtailing vets’ ability to remind pet owners about the importance of the medications their pets should be taking.
According to MRI-Simmons national survey data, veterinary visits fell from 84% of dog or cat owners in Fall 2021 survey to 71% in the Winter 2022/2023. The veterinary sector is struggling to keep its services more broadly affordable, but record inflation makes that task very challenging. According to estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinary services cost 8.8% more in 2022 than in 2021, compared with inflation of 4.2% in 2021 and an average of 3.5% between 2015 and 2020.
Encouraging veterinary usage among pet owners, especially among the younger generations, and doing everything possible to make these essential services more affordable, would go a long way towards boosting pet medication sales.
For more information, please see the newly released report Pet Medications in the US, 8th Edition by Packaged Facts, a premier source of information on the pet market.
About the blogger: David Lummis is a long-time Senior Analyst and Consultant focusing on the US pet market for Packaged Facts.