Identifying the Next Generation of Pet Owners

The research shows that Hispanic Millennials are probably pet marketers' next best bet.


Pet marketers are on the trail of something important. They need to track down their next generation of dominant customers. Baby Boomers, who account for a meaningful share of sales, are aging—and so are their pets. The pet industry is worried that when Boomers’ dogs and cats pass away, they will not be replaced and sales will suffer.

Millennials—born 1977–1994—are that next generation of doting pet owners. Hispanic Millennials, in particular, are a promising target for the pet industry, according to GfK MRI’s Spring 2014 Survey of the American Consumer. Overall, Millennials comprise 35 percent of the current U.S. adult population, and Hispanics account for 20 percent of that generation. About half of all Hispanic Millennials already own a dog or cat, and one in five plan to get a furry friend in the next 12 months. They are desirable customers because they believe that pets deserve to be pampered. And pet retailers will like them because they also like to shop at specialty stores.

While the Millennial generation may be slow to start their own traditional families—many delay marriage—they do not seem hesitant to take on four-legged dependents. For example, unmarried Hispanic Millennials are more likely than the average adult to say they intend to get a dog or cat.

Within the target of Hispanic Millennials is a unique breed of pet owner with a distinct approach to shopping and supporting brands: Hispanic Millennial Pet Pamperers. Two-thirds of Hispanic Millennial pet owners agree with GfK MRI’s general attitudes statement, “Pets deserve to be pampered,” which qualifies them as Hispanic Millennial Pet Pamperers.

GfK MRI data point to three key areas of opportunity for pet marketers to attract, engage and win over this cohort. GfK MRI’s research shows that Hispanic Millennial Pet Pamperers are more likely than the average pet owner to:

• Be highly social shoppers.

• Buy products based on celebrity endorsements.

• Like shopping at specialty stores.

• Enjoy wandering stores to find new, interesting products.

• Make purchases on impulse.

So how do pet stores and brands incorporate these findings in marketing programs?  Here are a few suggestions:

1. Implement social engagement strategies that connect Hispanic Millennial Pet Pamperers and brands—in person and online. They are more likely than average pet owners to engage with brands through social-networking sites, share opinions about products and services online, offer advice to people they know and seek advice for their own purchases.

In dealing with Millennials, it is essential to assign resources to continually monitor and promptly respond to online conversations occurring around pet brands. Negative discussions can spread fast, causing a brand serious damage.

Use social media to showcase Hispanic Millennial Pet Pamperers and brands relating to one another. Social media videos may be especially effective. This group is more likely than average pet owners to watch videos through social networking sites. Consider holding viewer-submitted video contests that feature your brand, and invite site visitors to vote for their favorites.

2. Invest in celebrity spokespeople—and their pets. Hispanic Millennial Pet Pamperers are 57 percent more likely than typical pet owners to say that celebrity endorsements influence them to buy products. They identify with celebrities, and endorsements help to affirm that they are making the best purchasing decisions for their pets.

3. Appeal to the Hispanic Millennial Pet Pamperers’ shopping wanderlust. Host events that bring them to the store, showcase new products and allow pet owners to experience those products. Members of this group are prime targets for specialty store promotions and special events that build on the enjoyment they get perusing aisles in search of new, interesting products. Give them opportunities to sample new items and buy on the fly. For example, marketers might consider hosting treasure hunts that lead to displays and samples of new products.

4. Actively promote social responsibility initiatives.
Hispanic Millennial Pet Pamperers look for brands that support social causes. Consider offering opportunities for customers to join those efforts through in-store and online matching donations and special events.

Successful companies are always looking for new ways to grow. In the pet industry, Hispanic Millennials are poised to fuel success and growth. Companies that invest in understanding what drives this target to support one brand over another—and apply those insights to marketing programs—are sure to get lots of tails wagging. a

Maria Lange is GfK’s Senior Product Manager of Retail and Technology and writes the Savvy Retailer column in Pet Business magazine. She can be reached at

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