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Millennials Own the Most Pets and Other Interesting Things We Learned at the Pet Industry's Largest Trade Show


This time last week, I was making my way through 343,700 square feet of exhibit space at Global Pet Expo. This large trade show for people in the pet business is held annually at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. I was among more than 6,700 people in attendance.

Since the show is not open to the public, most people who attend are buyers for pet businesses. I went to Global Pet Expo wearing two hats. I am the buyer for and owner of Pawsome Doggie, a store that sells cake pans shaped like dog breeds. I'm also a pet content writer for Parade, right here, so I was there looking for cool new products I could highlight.

In the next few days, I will be sharing with you those cool new products that I'm confident pet lovers are going to love learning about. Because there was so much good information, I'm going to break out my coverage over four posts. Today's post focuses on the latest stats about U.S. pet ownership plus a recap of Global Pet Expo 2019. The remaining three posts will focus on products for dogs, cats and other animals that Americans keep as pets.

While at Global Pet Expo, I was also one of the first media outlets to hear about the newest survey results from pet owners. This information is from the APPA (American Pet Products Association, the organization that runs Global Pet Expo) 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey.

The survey looks at popular data on the average number of pets owners per household, pet combinations owned, the frequency of vet visits, pet travel and the average amount spent on common pet care categories. For the 2019-2020 survey, the APPA jumped into some new territory, asking pet owners about some of these trends in pet products:

  • Pet food and treats made from human-grade and non-GMO ingredients
  • Ethically sourced pet care products
  • Calming products used for dogs and cats
  • Pets in the classroom
  • Backyard chicken ownerships
  • Online purchasing habits, including subscription-based purchases
(scroll to keep reading)

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One of the big reveals of the survey is just who is owning pets. While 67 percent of all U.S. households have a pet—adding up to a combined 84.9 million homes—millennials continue to represent the largest segment of pet owners. However, Gen Z (the generation coming directly after millennials) is starting to make their mark in this pet-ownership demographic.

Eighty percent of the combined demographic of millennials and Gen Z report owning a dog. Fewer than 50 percent of them own a cat. This demographic isn't shy about spending money on their pets either.

"Millennials continue to be the largest pet-owning demographic," says Bob Vetere, president and CEO of APPA. "We know this generation is willing to pay more for quality products and services to improve the health and well-being of their pets. Today more than ever, pet owners view their pets as irreplaceable members of their families and lives, and it's thanks to this that we continue to see such incredible growth within the pet care community."

As far as what pet owners are spending their money on, buying pet food is tops. It is up 4.3 percent from last year and surpassed $30 billion. Next is veterinary care, which is up 6.1 percent and comes in at more than $18 billion. Then there is spending on supplies and OTC medications, up six percent and topping out over $16 billion.

Tucked within this third category is spending on pet meds and supplements, which pet owners are using to "ensure longer, healthier lives for pets," says Vetere. This popularity of supplements was obvious as I walked the nearly half-mile long show floor.

Of the more than 1,100 exhibitors spread throughout the show, nearly every row had at least one company promoting CBD (cannabidiol), a cannabis extract, or hemp product for pets. Some buyers I met at Global Pet Expo were joking that it should have been renamed Global Pot Expo, due to the prevalence of these products.

In my next post, I'll include my roundup of cool dog products. Stay tuned.

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