The Covid-19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects. While reverberations in industries such as medicine and travel are expected, trends in pet care have also been affected by lockdowns, travel restrictions, and other current events. ShareThis data illustrates the drivers of major trends in the pet industry.
Pet Acquisition Is Slowing
Percent Share of Behavior by Month (%):
Early in the pandemic, online behavior around pet acquisition was at a high. Many individuals sought out a new animal to care for while they were staying home—many for the first time. Fostering activity peaked in March and April 2020, when the highest percentage of people were homebound due to lockdown restrictions. Pet adoption engagement was also high through the latter half of 2020, likely due to individuals working from home and having extra time to be with their new pets.
However, data now shows slowing engagement with pet adoption and shelters. Currently, online behavior surrounding pet adoption is averaging 31% lower month-over-month from the pandemic peak.
Reasons for this decrease may include current pet owners being focused on the pets they already have. The reopening of travel opportunities to pre-pandemic levels and more workers going back into physical workspaces rather than working remotely from home may also be affecting the rate of new pet adoptions.
Pet Owners Favor Dry and Organic Food Choices
Our data suggests pet owners are balancing healthy options for their pets with convenience. The majority of pet owners choose dry pet food over wet food, at a rate of 68% compared to 32%. Dry pet food tends to be less expensive and easier to store—both appealing factors in a time of rising costs and frequent supply chain issues and shortages.
Pet owners also show an interest in specialized foods. Pet food trends mirror human ones, with organic options commanding 36% of online pet food-related engagement, followed by 30% engagement with allergen-free options. Additionally, 25% of the pet food audience is engaging with raw food, trailed by 9% engaging with frozen and refrigerated options, consistent with our data that pet owners prefer dry foods over fresh.
Overall, the data seems to indicate that pet owners want the healthiest options, balanced with affordability and convenience.
Defining Traits of Pet Owners
Our data indicates that pet owners possess certain defining traits based on their online behavior.
- A pet owner audience is 9.17x more likely than the average online user to be interested in specialized diets like veganism and vegetarianism, indicating a health-conscious as well as animal-friendly perspective. This supports them seeking out organic and allergen-free diets for their pets as well.
- Pet owners also show higher interest in social concerns—they are 6.09x more likely than the average user to engage with topics surrounding public health, 2.51x more likely to be involved with organizations and clubs, and 2.22x more likely to engage with social issues like human rights.
- Pet owners also seem to be more interested in outdoor activities. Our data indicates that a pet owner audience is 3.26x more likely to show an interest in winter sports and 2.34x more likely to engage with hiking and camping topics.
These traits fit the profile of the ideal pet owner: a health-conscious person who cares about the health of their animal companion, who is compassionate and caring about social issues, and who enjoys the great outdoors and will give their pet the activity and exercise it needs.
While pet adoptions are no longer at the peak they reached during the early pandemic, our data shows that pet owners are deeply engaged with the health of their pets. They are finding ways to balance the desire for specialized pet foods that follow human food trends (organic, allergen-free) with the need to prioritize affordability by most often choosing dry pet food.
From data surrounding this online behavior, we can put together a profile of the average pet owner: they are health-conscious, socially engaged, and active.
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