Trend Alert: Pets
Creating a trend alert about pets is a bit akin to saying "hey, this Internet thingie is really catching on" but the stats surprised even me. Fido's popularity is NOT a passing fad.
Quick, some stats from the 2009/2010 National Pet Owners Survey:
● 62% of U.S. households own a pet (71.4 millions homes)
● 56% of U.S. households owned pets in 1988
● Cats are most popular (93.6 million)
● Dogs a close second (77.5 million)
● $45.4 billion a year is spent on pet ownership
Pet owners are showing a willingness to pay extra for top-notch items like dog shampoo from Paul Mitchell, gourmet steak treats from Omaha Steaks, and spiked collars and T-shirts from Harley Davidson. Perhaps the best evidence of this growing trend of pet indulgence is the new ad campaign from Alpo, with the tagline Real Dogs Eat Meat™. A tough looking dog with closed eyes appears next to the headline: "Dogs in strollers? Designer dog foods? Wake me when it's over." I'm curious to see if this campaign is a bellwether of an impending shift away from pampered pets. The book One Nation Under Dog theorizes the opposite, explaining how consumerism is only one aspect at work here, but a major shift in modern society explains our burgeoning pet devotion.
Now on to the really important question I ask in the face of any trend: how does it impact the mom market? A pet in the home is one more responsibility that falls on the shoulders of already time-pressed moms. Any product or service that makes pet ownership easier is mom's best friend. Here are a few for whom I predict success:
The Super Collar: the first-ever collar with a built-in retractable leash. Brilliant invention for quickly getting dogs "on leash" when at the park or beach, plus easy one-hand release is great for moms with her hands full and seniors with arthritis.
DogFriendly.com: one site that will tell you everywhere Fido is welcome: from hotels to campgrounds, parks to beaches.
POPBANDS: Super reflective arm and leg bands, collars and leashes for 360-degree visibility in low-light conditions, making night-time dog walking safe for pet and owner.
Dogster and Catster: Why should social networking bragging be limited to the kids? Birds of a feather flock together here to post blogs and photos, plus for vet advice, breed information, and even pet adoption resources.
PetPhone and ipet Alert: two iPhone apps every pet owner should have. One tracks vet visits, medications, and weight to keep Fido healthy. The other activates an electronic neighborhood watch the minute your pet goes missing. It's like an APB for cats and dogs.
Those are my picks. What are yours?