Engaging the Next  Generation of Pet Owners


Are you ready to market your services to a whole new generation of pet owners? Let’s hope so, because your ability to do so is sure to impact your grooming business—for better or worse.

In case you haven’t heard, the Millennials have officially arrived as a force in consumer spending. Now numbering 75.5 million strong and growing, this generation now comprises 32 percent of the adult population in the United States and wields spending power that is close to rivaling that of Baby Boomers. 

However, as any expert on consumer demographics will tell you, there are some distinct differences between Millennial pet owners and their predecessors. As a result, grooming businesses face a variety of opportunities and challenges in engaging this generation on the rise, many of which were illustrated to great effect in a presentation given by Nathan Richter, partner at Wakefield Research, a Washington, D.C.-based market research firm, at last month’s Pet Industry Leadership Conference

Let’s start with the good news. According to Richter, Millennial consumers are far more likely to view spending that older generations consider discretionary as being essential. For example, 86 percent of Millennial pet owners say that they would be highly likely to splurge on their pets. That means this group should be particularly receptive to some of the pampering-type services that can be found in today’s grooming salons—think blueberry facials and hydro-massage therapy. Similarly, given Millennials’ propensity to give their four-legged friends a little flair (73 percent buy clothes for their pets), they should also be a relatively easy group to upsell on creative extras such as hair coloring, bows and bandanas. 

But turning Millennial pet owners into loyal grooming clients isn’t just a matter of offering the right bells and whistles. This generation has some pretty clear demands for the types of products they will use on their pets. For example, 78 percent of Millennials say that it is essential that pet products be natural or organic, while 77 percent said that these products must be hypoallergenic. Groomers must be prepared to meet demands like these if they want to grow their customer base with this up-and-coming group of pet owners.

Millennials are also proving quite demanding in other ways, which brings us to the topic of this month’s cover story—customer service. According to Wakefield Research, 72 percent of this group indicates that they have stopped patronizing a business because they received poor service. What’s more, given the fact that Millennials are more than likely to broadcast their experiences on the internet through social media and websites like Yelp, their distaste for a particular business is almost certain to be shared with friends, family and the rest of the community of pet owners that makes up your customer base. 

While meeting the demands of your clients and providing great customer service has always been an important element of building a successful grooming business, clearly the stakes have been raised by this newest generation of pet owners. With this in mind, understanding and meeting the demands of Millennials as they grow into a powerful consumer segment will be vital to the health of your business for years to come.