There is little to no data in the public domain concerning the consumer habits of pet care professionals. However, it has often been noted that those who go into the pet care professions are most often pet-lovers themselves, and based on that, we have extracted the following useful data points.
GENERAL CONSUMER HABITS
- Those in the pet care industry (groomers, veterinarians, etc.) find it necessary to invest in high-quality supplies which serve a wide range of animals and breeds.
- Pet owners, and by extension, successful pet care professionals, are tech-savvy, with 41% of consumers using the internet to research products before they shop.
- In terms of health and wellness products, pet trends are closely following human ones, or even leading them. One of the first things pet owners — and, accordingly, pet care providers — look for is a label indicating that a product is "free from" a given substance (e.g., a GMO). This is particularly prevalent among Millennials (see below).
THE MILLENNIAL FACTOR
- In urban pet supply stores, Millennials account for 50% of sales. Nearly half of this generation adopting pets as their "starter children" or even "fur babies" and 86% will splurge on products for their pets over themselves. Consequently, Millennial preferences will make a huge impact on the consumer habits of pet care professionals, whether or not they share their views.
- Millennial pet owners are very "conscious about brand and ingredient integrity," as well as the social responsibility of the businesses they deal with.
- Likewise, Millennial pet owners are drawn to "brands with stories and purpose," and those who want their business will be conscious of this in sourcing their own supplies.
- Millennials also "gravitate to locally- and USA-made, boutique-feeling brands," according to one pet supply store. Again, wise pet care professionals will be, at the very least, conscious of this trend regardless of whether they share the sentiment.
Millennials are also focused on natural and/or organic products, which would affect the sourcing of their preferred pet care professionals:
- 81% consider "BPA-free" to be an "essential pet product quality."
- 78% consider natural/organic products to be essential.
- 77% consider hypoallergenic shampoos critical.
- 88% say the same about pet food.
Starting out, we were concerned with the breadth of suggested professions listed in the report criteria, as our instinct is that the consumer habits of a groomer might vary greatly from that of a zoologist. Therefore, we simply grouped all professions together under the general category of pet care professionals and sought pet industry publications which, by virtue of the types of articles they ran and specific advice they gave would give us insight into the consumer habits of the broad group. If a more targeted approach is needed, we can focus on one or more groups in future reports.
Our first thought was to find surveys of pet care personnel or business owners. However, we soon found that such surveys nearly always focused on their economic status and expectations, and none of the dozens scanned pertained to the project criteria. Consequently, we expanded our search to include more anecdotal articles written by industry insiders. Once again, we found little to no information on pet care industry sources like Pet Business Magazine, Pets+ Magazine, and Pet Product News. This remained the case even when we extended our search to include sources published outside of our nominal two-year window. The primary issue seems to be that the overwhelming majority of studies on consumer habits are either on pet owners themselves or involved B2B marketing to pet stores, which we understand to be outside of the report criteria.
Having found so little, we reconsidered our earlier assumption and conducted a quick series of research directed at finding any marketing insights regarding the individual professions listed as examples in the criteria. Apart from discovering a marketing firm that exclusively targets veterinarians (which did not provide any pertinent information in its public articles), this strategy also failed to yield useful results.
As a last ditch effort to bring useful data to the table, we operated under an assumption which is logical on the face of it, but which so far as we can tell has never been the subject of a study, namely, that those who work with pets generally do so out of a love for animals which is similar to that of pet owners. If this assumption is true, then we would expect to find similar consumer habits among both pet owners and pet care professionals, particularly since the latter so often recommend products to the former. Even where pet care professionals do not share their clients', they would feel compelled to purchase products acceptable to those clients to gain/retain their business.
We have made judgment calls about which data points are truly relevant; just for one example, pet owners may prefer brick-and-mortar stores when seeking supplies, but we do not see a clear logical line that suggests the professionals would have the same preference when seeking vendors.