Owners of pets other than dogs and cats, such as fish, small mammals, reptiles/amphibians, and birds, have historically been treated as second-class citizens by the pet market due to their lower numbers and lower sales, compared to dogs and cats. That changed with a population boom experienced in this market during the pandemic, and now these “other pets” have grabbed the attention of pet owners, marketers, and retailers alike. Packaged Facts’ new Fish, Small Mammal, Herptile, and Bird Products in the US, 4th edition, tracks trends and opportunities in this market.
Opportunity 1: Affordability of Small Pets
There’s no arguing that pet ownership can be expensive. One of the attractions of pets such as fish, small mammals, herptiles, and birds is that they can be significantly less costly to maintain compared to dogs and cats. In Packaged Facts February 2023 survey, 31% of other pet owners agreed that the current economic environment had negatively impacted their ability to buy non-essentials. The economic strain pet owners are under shows just why ownership of these other pets is appealing: a little over half (51%) of other pet owners agreed that the cost for setting up habitats and tanks for their pets other than dogs and cats was reasonable, while only 22% disagreed, an indication that marketers of other pet products should focus on how affordable these smaller pets can be.
Opportunity 2: Fun
One of the main reasons people get pets other than dogs and cats is for the enjoyment of watching and interacting with them. Packaged Facts survey results from February 2023 show that half of owners of other pets (50%) enjoy keeping these pets because they are fun to watch and observe, with 35% simply loving the type of pet. Other popular reasons include the pet being fun to interact with and for mental health/stress reduction. These motivators illustrate how much enjoyment other pet owners get from their scaly, furry, and feathered friends and provide context for their willingness to continue to spend on these pets.
Opportunity 3: “Pets as Family”
In the dog and cat market, the “pets as family” attitude is firmly established, with pets forming a core part of the household in the minds of most dog and cat owners. In the other pet market, this sentiment is also gaining traction. Packaged Facts survey results show that among owners of pets other than dogs and cats, 69% agree that these pets are part of the family, with 39% strongly agreeing. Although this represents a significant share of other-pet-owning households, compared to dog owners (97% agreement, 82% strongly agreeing) and cat owners (95% agreement, 79% strongly agreeing), there is clearly room for marketers and retailers to appeal to other pet owners by reminding them of how big a role these small companions play in their daily life. Other pet owners may not be able to give their goldfish a hug, but they can definitely see how their own lives are improved by having these pets as part of their households.
For more information, please see the newly published report Fish, Small Mammal, Herptile, and Bird Products in the US, 4th Edition.