Online Pet Marketing During and After the COVID-19 Crisis

Pet marketing in 2020: Consumer confidence may have waned, but pet owners still spend money on their dogs, cats, and other pets.

COVID-19 has generated plenty of concerns about health and finances all over the world. This global pandemic may have initially begun when the virus jumped from an animal to a human host. On the plus side, the CDC says that you probably don’t have to worry about pets getting sick or contributing to spreading the disease. Instead of making people leery of keeping pets, the crisis appears to have sparked interest in them.

In fact, pet ownership has even increased in the United States during these days of social isolation. Even better for pet product marketing, most sectors of the industry have proven remarkably resilient to past financial downturns. Still, pet industry trends and consumer behavior have changed abruptly during the current crisis. It’s important to understand what’s different about the COVID-19 outbreak than financial slumps of the past. That way, you can develop pet product marketing plans that will attract and retain today’s customers.

How has the coronavirus impacted pet marketing?

Even before coronavirus, marketers have touted pet product marketing as a typically recession-proof industry. That positive view of the overall pet business held true both during the Great Recession of the last decade and in the aftermath of 9/11 two decades ago.

Still, the current pandemic has generated both some new opportunities and new challenges for the pet business. For instance, previous economic downturns did not have associated stay-at-home orders and perhaps, did not occur quite this abruptly. While many retailers and marketers still have plenty of reasons to feel optimistic, others have struggled and may need to pivot their pet marketing plans rapidly in order to maintain and grow their business.

Local pet services face the most obstacles 

The virus has generated the most challenges for local pet services. In particular, locally owned businesses may struggle to survive. Travel restrictions and increased remote work have slashed the need for such services as pet boarding, daycare, and dog walkers. Restrictions on in-person contact have limited dog groomers, even if they’re considered essential businesses. People may delay some other discretionary services as they tighten their purse strings.

On the other hand, one sort of pet service has enjoyed an upswing. According to USA Today, pet shelters and adoption centers have not reported an increase in the number of pets dropped off because owners were either financially unable or too ill to take care of them. Actually, pet shelters have reported an increase in the number of people who have signed up to foster or adopt shelter pets.

Because of social distancing measures, people may have decided pets can help them cope with isolation. Others may simply have found more time to care for a furry friend. Also, many shelters and sponsoring agencies have made it possible to reduce or even eliminate adoption fees. Probably for multiple reasons, expect to see pet ownership increase and not decrease during the coronavirus outbreak.

Local retailers must take safety measures and find alternative business tactics

Most of the government stay-at-home orders consider pet stores an essential business. That means that they can stay open, even when non-essential businesses have had to close. At the same time, they’ve generally had to take more stringent safety measures to satisfy local regulations and of course, to keep their customers and employees safe. For instance, stores might limit foot traffic, have employees use PPE, and offer curbside service or new delivery options.

Keven Fink serves as the CEO of Worldwide, a pet products manufacturer. He said that many of his company’s local retailers should have prepared themselves better by leaning into online retailing a little more. He believes they should take advantage of their community presence by offering more online ordering with local pickup.

In this way, customers still won’t need to pay a shipping charge. Still, they can enjoy the convenience of contact-free payments, online ordering, and in many cases, same-day pickup. Traditionally, this model has served other types of retailers with physical stores very well. In addition to other marketing, physical stores could better position themselves by adding online pet supply marketing to their existing advertising.

How to benefit from the rise of online pet supply marketing 

Pet industry marketers will face challenges both during and shortly after the outbreak. Compared to an original project increase of five percent for 2020, the marketing research firm Packaged Facts predicts an overall 17 percent decline for the year. Most of that decline comes to a drop in such pet services as boarding, dog walking, and pet daycare services. Travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders mean that more people won’t need this kind of help. Packaged Facts also expects a somewhat more modest decline in other discretionary services and products but an increase in sales of such non-discretionary pet products as food and litter.

Along with obstacles, marketers can also find some growth opportunities. Online pet supply marketing already enjoyed steady growth before the outbreak. Mobile and online sales have been surging for all sorts of eCommerce. Pet product retailers and marketers should take this as good news because historically, online sales have tended to grow the overall market instead of cannibalizing other retail sales. Packaged Facts expects online sales to reach at least 24 percent of total industry sales in 2020 and grow to over 26 percent within five years.

Choosing an online platform

Larger retailers and distributors may already have their own eCommerce platform. Other pet product marketers may simply take advantage of the vast audience and developed infrastructure that Amazon already offers them. If a pet product supplier has a brick-and-mortar store, either option can offer a customer base that extends far beyond their local market.

Of course, many sellers have both a presence on Amazon and their own store. Managing both Amazon listings and a business website makes an marketing a bit more complex; however, it can also offer your business many advantages. For instance, you can run a newsletter from your site. You can also give customers a place to go to learn more about your company when they do their own research. At the same time, you can take advantage of Amazon’s vast customer base.

Tips to market Amazon pet products

Some benefits of pet product marketing on Amazon include:

  • A giant audience who spends billions of dollars each year on the site
  • The chance to provide excellent products and services and then earn repeat business without any other marketing
  • Tested backend support and infrastructure
  • Automatic referrals from Amazon’s recommendation algorithm
  • An implied level of trust from associating with Amazon

Even though Amazon has a lot of customers, pet sellers may also find plenty of competition in some niches. Dan Vas, a successful Amazon seller, says that he’s achieved success by differentiating his listings, even if they’re for the same products and brands other sellers promote. He shared such tactics as careful keyword research, high-quality images, and using page headings and text to let customers know how your product or business is unique and beneficial.

Amazon also allows sellers to set up autoship programs, which can automatically generate repeat sales. If you are promoting your Amazon listings, you might first run your visitors through your website in order to collect their email addresses. For instance, you might offer prospects a discount code in exchange for a subscription to your newsletter. Amazon has lots of restrictions on the way you can contact “their customers.” If you can collect email addresses earlier in the sales funnel, you won’t violate the rules.

Online pet business ideas

If you have a physical store or solely sell online, you can also differentiate yourself by your choice of pet supplies you focus upon selling. Sure, the demand for non-discretionary items has increased; however, those are the kinds of things that many viewers view as simple commodities. You may also find some opportunities with more discretionary pet supplies. For instance, you might decide that it’s a good time to consider advertising animal supplements and anti-anxiety pet products.

Advertising animal supplements

Animal supplements have also grown into a fairly large niche within the broader pet products category. For example, Beyond Animals markets natural supplements that may help with such issues as digestive health and improved immunity. Joshua Erret, the company’s chief revenue officer, says April sales doubled over March, and he expects this pet industry trend to continue.

Even though some large players dominate this market, a couple of factors may mean that smaller players still have room to grow. First, the population of pet owners keeps growing. Also, as people have become more interested in high-quality food and natural remedies for themselves, they’re also interested in providing these same alternatives for their pets.

Anti-anxiety pet products

No doubt, the coronavirus pandemic has generated its fair share of anxiety. Naturally, people feel uncertain about the future and are justifiably concerned about the disease. According to research from, people also have concerns they have transferred some of these feelings to their pets.

For instance, keywords for such items as calming dog and cat beds generate several thousand searches a month on Google. Likewise, they’re also trending on Amazon. Besides soothing beds, other examples of anti-anxiety products might include calming pet jackets and aromatherapy gels and sprays.

Back to the topic of pet furniture, all sorts of dog or cat beds have proven popular. In fact, there’s now a pretty viral, organic social media movement around the subject of people accidentally discovering their small pets like IKEA doll beds. However, IKEA has already published statements that their doll beds are not intended for pets. Sellers with similar designs of beds that were designed for pets should have an easy time piggybacking on some of that attention.

Pitch social consciousness

Even before the current outbreak, consumers had increasingly preferred brands they perceived as more socially conscious. According to McKinsey Research, post-pandemic customers put even more emphasis on spending money on businesses that they believe will care about them and their communities. Lots of companies may make some token efforts to present themselves as socially conscious. If your company’s products are centered around improving communities, you will have an edge.

For instance, the Philadelphia Inquirer highlighted the story of Piggyback Treats. One of the founders, Jennifer Kirby, said that their company works with farms and restaurants to collect food that would have otherwise been discarded. Some of their popular pet products include treats made from salmon skins or byproducts from making beer. They also make their pet food packaging out of sustainable materials.

According to Kirby, they had initially been devastated because they lost access to trade shows when the pandemic caused mass cancellations of in-person events. The company had already spent thousands of dollars to book booths and expected to recoup their money and make a profit through sales. On the positive side, online sales climbed steeply in March and April. Kirby said that their revenue would not make up for the amount they lost on trade shows, but it would be sufficient to sustain them until the crisis passes.

How the best pet websites have reacted to COVID-19

Your business should develop its own competitive advantages, so you don’t necessarily want to copy industry leaders. On the other hand, you should take the prudent step of studying their reactions to the coronavirus crisis to see if you can use some of their ideas to fit your own business model. Take a look at how some of the best pet websites have coped with the crisis in order to sustain and grow their business.


Barkbox offers a subscription program that delivers healthy pet treats and toys. This company joins the ranks of pet product marketing companies that have enjoyed increased revenue during the crisis. However, they also understand that many of their customers face financial uncertainty right now, so they’ve made a commitment to be very flexible with their subscription programs.


Chewy has the distinction of being one online pet product marketer to outsell Amazon. During the outbreak, they’ve mostly struggled with scaling to meet demand while protecting employee health. While they plan to hire up to 10,000 more employees, they’ve also improved sanitation, added health benefits, and changed some work policies and processes. Also, Chewy has partnered with with a donation of $3 million for rescues and shelters all over the country.

The Dodo

The Dodo doesn’t manufacture or market pet products. Instead, they produce entertaining content that centers around animals. In addition to the overall increase in pet ownership, The Dodo has enjoyed an increase in viewers during the current crisis. The company’s president, YuJung Kim, says that they’ve also seen traffic spikes during times of natural disasters and even election cycles. He believes his site’s content offers viewers a bit of hope and respite during stressful times.

In any case, a pet supply marketer might take a lesson from The Dodo’s popularity. Adding some content focused on pet owners to your online platform could be an effective way to grow your audience. Sponsoring sites and social media influencers with this kind of content can offer you a somewhat simpler route to get started. From the standpoint that this sort of content can help relax and entertain people during these uncertain times, your audience may view this effort as socially responsible as donations. Of course, you can use the content to promote your business and your favorite worthy causes.

Large pet food brands offering sustainable pet food packaging

Besides Piggyback Treats, a number of national and even international brands have explored using more sustainable pet food packaging. According to Pet Food Industry, almost 60 percent of customers report a more favorable view of businesses that avoid or reduce single-use plastics in their packages.

Some large brands that have either introduced or explored more sustainable packaging include Royal Canin, Wellness, and Purina. Some of these manufacturers have developed biodegradable packages, while others have encouraged recycling. You can use your support for sustainable products to help promote your own brand as socially conscious too.

Moving forward to enjoy the boom in online pet food industry marketing

Lots of your customers may have tightened their budgets right now. At the same time, today’s pet owners tend to regard their furry friends as part of the family. Thus, pet owners want a good value. At the same time, they won’t always skimp on quality, especially for essential pet items. In general, consumers also like to spend their money on brands that have the same ideals that they do. That means your own investment in being a good neighbor and a reliable source of quality products can provide you with great returns.

Most of all, you can enjoy an expanding market of new pet owners and more reasons to offer online shopping. Your attention to researching and marketing trending pet products can help you gain an edge against larger competitors. There’s not a one-size-fits all model for every sort of business; however, you can study your competitors to determine which of their successful tactics can also help your pet business thrive.

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Pet Product Marketing During the Coronavirus

Find out how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted pet product sales, and how your pet product marketing can take advantage of opportunities.

In the past, marketers thought of pet product marketing as reliably recession-resistant. According to Pet Food Industry, an industry journal, that proved true both after 911 and during the Great Recession of 2008. In contrast, industry forecasters do expect to see at least a temporary drop in some pet product sales during the coronavirus crisis.

Of course, pet owners still need to feed and care for Fluffy and Fido. Because of this, not all kinds of products will suffer, and the market should rebound by next year. In fact, some brands have continued to do quite well during the crisis. Take a minute to understand the state of the current market and how a pet product marketing agency or retailer can appeal to customers.

Challenges to pet product marketing during the coronavirus

These are some recent recent forecast for U.S. retail sales for pet product marketing and sales that Pet Food Industry published:

  • Post-pandemic forecasts assume a 17 percent drop in U.S. retail sales of pet products for 2020 to 2021. Before the pandemic, those same forecasts predicted a five percent increase.
  • If true, these declines will translate into about $18 billion less revenue in 2020 than in 2019.
  • The forecasts do predict that the market will begin to recover in 2021. This rebound underscores the strength of the market for pet food and other pet products in the United States.

Pet product marketing opportunities during the coronavirus crisis

While forecasters expect pet product marketing to struggle during the next year, some kinds of products may not suffer as much. For example:

  • Industry analysts believe non-medical pet services, vet services, and non-food pet supplies will have the largest drops.
  • On the other hand, these same forecasters expect non-discretionary product sales to maintain modest growth.

Non-discretionary products include such necessary items as pet food and cat litter. Even with these need-to-have items, expect to see consumers looking for value by turning more to sales and in some cases, store brands.

Pet ownership may actually increase during COVID-19

Packaged Facts provides industry research for several industries, including pet products. Their research director, David Sprinkle, believes that U.S. pet ownership might even increase during this crisis. He said that happened during the Great Recession of 2007 to 2008. It’s even more likely to happen now because pets can provide comfort and companionship during these times of social isolation measures. As more people have switched to remote work, they may also feel they have more time to care for a pet.

Surges expected for eCommerce pet product sales

Even before the current crisis, eCommerce sales of pet products had begun to grow at a steady pace. As with other packaged goods, the online part of the market has continued to climb during the outbreak. Consumers may feel reluctant to leave their homes to shop as much and might even have trouble finding their favorite brands reliably stocked in stores.

In addition, once pet owners find an eCommerce retailer who offers competitive prices, they often decide that ordering pet products online provides them with convenience and affordability. In any case, Packaged Facts expects the online share of the market to reach 24 percent in 2020 and over 26 percent by 2021.

Maintaining and growing sales during the coronavirus pandemic

A pet product agency can take some comfort in the potential growth in pet ownership and a strong demand for such essential pet supplies as food and cat litter. While other niches may slump somewhat, they won’t completely drop off and are expected to resume growing again by next year.

Based on these insights for the current state of the industry, businesses can take some steps to position their own pet business better. For instance, good tactics might include offering competitive prices for essential pet products to attract and keep customers. Those same customers are still likely to consider some discretionary pet purchases.

Maintaining or creating pet products brand loyalty

At least when it comes to pet food, most owners tend to remain pretty loyal to certain brands. If their pet appears to like a certain kind of food and that food keeps them healthy, their owners will generally keep buying it. As most pet owners know, switching brands can take a period of adjustment, so that’s something most people would rather avoid.

A survey from Civic Science found that even during the pandemic, just about three-quarters of pet owners had more concerns about pet food quality than price. As an interesting note to help develop buyer personas, women, people who cook a lot for themselves, and older people appear most concerned about quality. Dog owners seemed somewhat more concerned than cat owners.

People who value quality the most will tend to turn to online retailers; however, people who also value patronizing locally owned businesses also tend to care a lot about quality. This also suggests that locally owned business could have a good chance to grow their business with online ordering options.

To dig a little deeper, the survey also asked these pet owners some specific questions about their buying behavior:

  • Brand vs. price: Where 40 percent said brand mattered more than price, only 14 percent said price mattered more. To be fair, almost half of the survey respondents said that they considered price and brand just about equally important. Unsurprisingly, typical consumers would rather save money but not at the expense of quality.
  • Sources: About 55 percent of the respondents said they bought their pet food at the store. Of these, 43 percent shopped at either a grocery or discount store and 28 percent purchased from a local or chain pet store. Online sales from Amazon and other online retailers captured about 29 percent of sales.

In conclusion, pet owners do tend do demonstrate brand loyalty. On the other hand, most of these consumers would prefer to find a good deal that won’t make them sacrifice quality. Also, while the number of online shoppers keeps increasing, a majority of pet owners still tend to pick up pet products locally, very often when they’re doing their own shopping.

Consumer pet product shopping concerns

Also, the Civic Science survey asked if pet owners shopped online more now because of the pandemic. About 17 percent said that they did, but seven percent said they shopped online less. Over a third of pet owners replied that they had concerns about obtaining enough pet food during the crisis and almost two-thirds said they had stocked up with enough products to last for at least three weeks.

Some of the steadily increasing demand for essential pet products may come from people stocking up because they have concerns about finding their favorite brands on the shelves. Pet product marketing might do well to focus upon ensuring consumers that they will provide a steady, reliable supply of high-quality pet food to ensure and increase brand loyalty.

Online pet product marketing companies weathering the coronavirus well

Because of social distancing, online shopping for all kinds of products has enjoyed rapid growth during the pandemic. In order to improve pet product marketing for any particular retailer or brand, it helps to look at companies that have demonstrated the most growth. For example, Chewy has recently announced they would hire over 6,000 people to handle the surge in demand at fulfillment centers.

This online retailer has had to contend with higher costs both for labor and for putting additional safety measures in place to protect employee health. On the other hand, Chewy doesn’t operate retail stores at all, so they haven’t had to worry about any fallout from decreased foot traffic or even closed stores.

So, what gives Chewy a competitive advantage for pet product marketing over many other online retailers? Even just before the pandemic, Motley Fool called Chewy a “millionaire making” stock. Even though many marketers consider Amazon unbeatable for online sales, Chewy has managed to take the largest online retail in the world on. A lot of people might regret failing to take the Motley Fool’s advice to buy Chewy stock back in January, but there’s still time to learn from this example.

What is Chewy’s competitive advantage over other online retailers?

Chewy concentrated only upon pet product marketing and nothing else. Mostly, Chewy has managed to stay even with Amazon for prices, selection, reliability, and convenience. Both of these large retailers also have the resources to budget for competitive keywords and other marketing tactics.

Chewy beat Amazon by going the distance to provide exceptional customer service. Examples include hand-written welcome and sympathy cards and even sometimes, hand-drawn portrait photos. Typically, Chewy also employs pet owners who also own pets, so they’re very engaged with the market.

While Chewy has increased private-label product sales, they mostly sell other brands. They have worked on developing their private-label pet packaging design with lots of images of cute, happy pets and big lettering that explains the product’s benefits. You can actually find images of these packages shared quite a bit on Pinterest and other sites. Still, it will probably take some time to get many brand-loyal pet owners to switch, even if they can save money.

Mostly, the company accepts low margins or even losses upon first-time sales because they offer lots of coupons to encourage new customers. They work to profit by retaining customers with discounts for enrolling in the autoship program and by steadily increasing the types and brands of products they sell.

The company has found that repeat customers tend to buy more after having positive experiences with their first purchases. Obviously, Chewy also promotes the popular idea that pets are family members and certainly not just creatures. Their customers tend to identify with the brand because they believe the brand identifies with them.

The future of pet product marketing after coronavirus

Americans have proven famously loyal to their pets, even during economic downturns. Very often, pet owners will compromise on themselves before sacrificing their pet’s needs. Previous economic downturns have demonstrated this quite well. While many pet owners still shop locally, they’re increasingly turning to eCommerce pet stores for convenience, selection, and pricing. Smaller or newer online retailers may have to struggle to compete with giants like Amazon to get a share of new sales.

Providing great service and high-quality products at competitive prices can help. Pet product marketing can attract and retain new customers with price promotions, loyalty programs, and discounted autoshipping offers. By taking a page from Chewy, going the extra mile to prove that a company cares about pets and their pet parents can provide a competitive advantage that won’t necessarily require a huge investment.

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How to Create the Most Compelling Pet Product Videos

The pet industry has never been more competitive. Here’s what you need to know about making pet product videos that engage audiences.

It’s hard to understate the affection people have for their pets. According to the American Pet Products Association, the pet industry now averages more than $99 billion annually in sales, and is one of the fastest-growing retail segments. The rate of pet ownership (or “pet parentage”) in the US also continues to climb, as millennials and members of Gen Z adopt or buy pets with greater frequency than older generations.

Given these developments, it’s obvious that the pet industry is a massive and lucrative market. Yet it’s also extremely competitive. So how do pet product companies move to the front of the pack and establish a dominant competitive position? Clever use of video — and the help of a skilled third party video production company — can make all the difference.

The trick to shooting great pet videos

How important is video to a digital marketing strategy these days? Consider this: Mobile video consumption doubles every year, six in ten people prefer online videos to television and online videos will comprise 82% of all Internet traffic by 2022 — an increase of 1,500% since 2017. With numbers like these, you don’t have to be a marketing genius to understand how important video is, both now and in the future.

You can’t just slap together any video and watch the conversions roll in, however. The brands that get the most bang for their marketing budgets are those who create the kind of video content that aligns with viewer desires and preferences. Sometimes that can be done internally, but other times it may require help from an agency specializing in pet video marketing services.

With that in mind, let’s dive into some tips for making pet product videos that dazzle pet owners.

10 tips for better pet product videos

  1. When making a video, don’t forget to create an eye-catching thumbnail. Many readers will click away from an article if the first sentence doesn’t interest them. The thumbnail plays the same role here; if it doesn’t spark interest, the video may get ignored. The same principle applies to the first five seconds of your video, as many people simply lack the patience for a slow build.
  2. Many app users have their default setting for videos set to mute. Because of this, it’s essential to anticipate this by incorporating subtitles and visually engaging graphics.
  3. Tell a story, but take a fresh angle. Pet parents have in inexhaustible appetite for pet content, yet many of the topics have been well mined at this point. By approaching a familiar narrative at an off-kilter angle, you can spark greater interest.
  4. Make sure you create a steady, regular flow of video content. If you want to build an audience, you can’t publish pet videos in fits and starts. You need to be consistent in terms of your schedule.
  5. Tailor your videos to the channel or the platform. Instagram, for example, is extremely visual, so there’s less of a need to devote time to copy, and more of a need to consider visual elements. Snapchat, on the other hand, is a great place to release more irreverent or playful videos. On Twitter, it makes sense to integrate more videos into regular tweets. Tweets featuring video are 600% more likely to be re-tweeted than photo tweets.
  6. Create dedicated video playlists that group content together. This feature works best on Facebook and YouTube, and helps organize your content for easy accessibility.
  7. Tap into the enormous pool of pet bloggers and pet account operators. If you’ve spent any time on major social media platforms, you realize that pet content is everywhere. The pool of potential creators is limitless. By identifying some of the best amateur talent online, you can generate ideas and partner to create promotional content.
  8. Make a significant investment in TikTok promotion. This short-form video app continues to take over social media. One of its secret weapons? Funny pet videos. Ignore this platform at your own risk, because it has enormous cachet with younger pet parents and soon-to-be pet parents.
  9. Create videos that have an emotional appeal. This applies to almost every product category, but it is especially relevant for pet brands. Pet parents love their animals, while consumers merely like the products they own and (possibly) identify with the brand. Given this emotional investment, the right video can resonate deeply — this famous tear-jerking video is still a topic of cultural conversation 13 years after it was shot. 
  10. Finally, come up with a great idea and keep it short and simple. That’s a prescription for a video that strikes a chord and is widely shared.

Finding the right video marketing agency

If you need help with pet marketing services, we encourage you to contact Bigeye. Our team of skilled creatives have pet industry expertise and the technical skills to do what other video advertising companies can’t.

Reach out today and let us help put together your next great pet products campaign. 

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Don’t Ignore Influencer Marketing for Your Pet Products

Don’t knock influencer marketing when building your strategy for pet products. This type of marketing amplifies word-of-mouth marketing through social media.

Do you trust a random TV actor pitching a product?

What about a celebrity pitch person — someone you’re familiar with? Would you trust this person more?

How about a close personal friend whose opinions you respect? Does their product recommendation carry even greater weight?

In most cases, the answer to these questions are all in the affirmative. There is a definite spectrum in terms of whom we trust — that’s one reason why word-of-mouth marketing has historically been so effective. People trust friends, family members and people they respect more than faceless corporations.

Influencer content marketing offers many of the same benefits associated with word-of-mouth marketing, and amplifies those benefits by including the reach of social media. Let’s take a closer look at the current state of influencer marketing, how it can specifically be used to sell pet products more effectively, and the benefits of working with an influencer marketing agency.

Influencer marketing: a maturing market

The growth of influencer marketing has been nothing short of astonishing over the last few years. Just consider these statistics from Influencer Marketing Hub’s “The State of Influencer Marketing in 2020” report:

  • The industry is worth nearly $10 billion, growing from $1.6 billion in 2016.
  • Average earned media value per $1 spent has jumped to more than $5.
  • The number of micro-influencers used by large companies has tripled in three years.
  • 80% of respondents plan to have a dedicated influencer marketing budget in 2020.
  • 91% of respondents believe influencer marketing is an effective tactic for growing a customer base.

2020 Influencer Trends

As those statistics show, it’s on a rapid growth trajectory. Yet to get the most out of your influencer marketing campaigns, it’s essential to have your finger on the pulse of evolving trends. eMarketer’s recently published “2018 Influencer Marketing Report” cites the following trends for 2020:

  • 48% of businesses plan on using celebrity (or “macro”) influencers, while 45% will use micro influencers.
  • Instagram is the preferred platform for influencer marketing, with 100% of report respondents using it. 85% use Facebook, 67% reported using YouTube, Snapchat 44% and Twitter 33%.
  • TikTok, which is seeing some of the fastest growth among social platforms, is expected to be a major player in influencer campaigns in 2020.
  • Influencers will continue to cross-over from having niche social media followings to being full-fledged celebrities. While this will give the most prominent macro influencers more leverage with businesses seeking to work with them, it also greatly expands their potential orbit of influence.

How can this be applied to pet products?

The pet industry is a natural home for influencers. People are devoted to their animals and love to consume and share pet-related content over social media. It’s estimated that one-quarter of all social content is pet-related and that one-fifth of pet owners have created a social media account specifically for their animal. The #dogsofinstagram hashtag alone is closing in on 200 million posts. Social media influencer marketing agencies that are solely dedicated to working with famous animal accounts have sprung up in the last couple of years, attesting to the power of this phenomenon.

Companies seeking to sell pet products therefore have a powerful advantage relative to businesses in other industries: An army of potential influencers waiting to be leveraged. Pet bloggers and owners of pet social media accounts number in the millions, which means that the pool of available influencer talent is vast. Given that the ability to source influencers is perennially ranked as one of the most difficult challenges for firms engaged in influencer marketing, this is a considerable advantage.

There is an obvious parallel to be drawn here: Mommy bloggers. Brands, over the last ten years, profited enormously from their partnership with high-profile mommy bloggers, who were able to build vast and deeply engaged audiences across various social platforms and websites. Parent-focused social media marketing become a core strategy for countless brands, and helped generate billions in new revenue.

Pet industry brands have a similar opportunity to leverage pet bloggers in the same way, given their sizable numbers and considerable reach. Pairing this approach with some of the trends we’ve cited above is a winning strategy for 2020 (we especially encourage brands to focus on integrating TikTok into their influencer marketing strategy, as that platform is poised to become perhaps only second to Instagram in terms of cultural cachet and reach).

Finding the right influencer marketing agency

At Bigeye, we are experts at crafting compelling influencer marketing campaigns rooted in a deep understanding of the latest trends and technologies. If your pet product campaign needs a boost, we encourage you to reach out to us today — and learn what the right influencer marketing campaign can do for your brand.

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Not a Pet, But a Family Member: The Evolution of Pet Marketing

Pets have graduated to full-fledged family members. Here’s what brands need to know to ensure their pet product marketing is keeping pace.

Pets aren’t really pets anymore. Today, many people are more likely to regard themselves as “parents” rather than “owners” of their animals — and they want the very best for their children. Pet product marketing needs to reflect this cultural change — and brands that fail to adapt will soon fall out of favor with pet-crazed consumers.

Trending towards humanization

One stroll through a pet store or a dog park will tell you everything you need to know about how the treatment of pets in society has evolved. A generation or two ago, parents would often purchase or adopt a dog or a cat “for the children” and then provide the animal with the bare minimum level of care and attention.

Today’s pets are comparatively lavished with attention, and there are a few reasons for this shift. First, millennials have delayed marriage and child-rearing longer than any previous generation, largely due to economic uncertainty. Pets serve as “proxy children” or “starter children” for many people in this segment.

Second, the proliferation of social media has created a situation where everyone wants to document and share their lives – and pets play a major role in this. Open up Instagram, Facebook or any other social app, and you’ll be deluged with animal photos.

Pet ownership numbers have also sharply increased, rising from 56% to 68% over the last three decades. As you might expect, younger people are overrepresented in pet ownership, accounting for 62% of all pet owning households.

How the pet industry – and pet ownership – are evolving

Changing cultural dynamics around pet ownership are reflected in larger trends inside the pet industry. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the most important trends, and how pet product marketing is adapting.

  • Direct to consumer pet boxes 

 Brands have used the DTC subscription box model to great effect, as it allows consumers to feel like they are receiving a gift in the mail each month and doesn’t require driving to a brick and mortar shop. This model has been especially successful in the pet sector; brands such as Bark have experienced fast growth by shipping curated boxes of dog treats and toys direct to consumer doorsteps.

  • Elevated pet food 

The days of feeding pets undifferentiated food brands of questionable quality are over. Today, pet owners are buying pet food much in the same way they purchase human products — and pet food marketing should reflect this. Witness the recent craze over grain-free dog food, which mimics in some ways the “gluten-free” craze of the last few years.

  • TV for dogs 

Pet parents are understandably worried about leaving their animals alone for extended periods of time. Dog TV — a new network that creates dog-centric television programming – purports to solve this problem. When you depart for work in the morning, you can position your dog in front of the TV screen, where he can watch hours of programming calibrated to his interest and level of understanding.

  • Dating apps for dog lovers 

People have famously highlighted pet photos in their Tinder profiles for years, but Dig takes this to the next level. Dig is a dating app for dog lovers that helps set up canine-friendly dates. Unlike other dating apps, women outnumber men by a significant portion on Dig, which gives the app another interesting wrinkle.

Finding the right pet care marketing agency

Most pet product marketing agencies produce campaigns that are all bark with no bite. Bigeye is different – we’re a team of talented creatives, tech wizards and strategic thinkers, and we all have one thing in common: We love pets, and we’re great at producing high-level pet industry market research.

Come visit our website, and we’ll be sure to show you a few tricks to help you catalyze your next pet product marketing campaign.

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Bigeye’s 2019 US Pet Industry Study

A new, national study of pet owners from Bigeye signals shifts in preferences and behaviors that are poised to reshape the $75 billion pet industry.

In July and August 2019, Bigeye conducted a survey of 784 pet owners aged 25 to 55 across the United States.

The study quantifies how pets influence purchases, devices, and brand appeal. Bigeye aimed to provided a valuable, free resource for organizations that provide or develop pet products and services with findings that are especially relevant to marketing professionals.

Bigeye President Justin Ramb, Senior Strategist Dana Cassell, and VP of Insights Adrian Tennant presented a webinar highlighting key findings and actionable insights from the study. You can watch the webinar recording below; a transcript of the webinar is provided.

Full Study Download

Download the full study results here.


In Clear Focus: The 2019 US Pet Industry Study

In this first episode of In Clear Vision, Bigeye’s senior strategist Dana Cassell and VP of insights Adrian Tennant discuss findings from the 2019 US Pet Industry Study. Dana and Adrian break down emerging trends in pet parenting and the implications for pet product marketers as generational differences in device use impact engagement with advertisements.

Webinar Recording

Bigeye 2019 US Pet Industry Study Webinar

This is “Bigeye 2019 US Pet Industry Study Webinar” by Bigeye on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them.

Pet Transcript

Justin Ramb:        Hello everybody. This is Justin Ramb, president of Bigeye. I’d like to welcome you today to today’s webinar featuring highlights from the Bigeye 2019 US Pet Industry Study. We are excited to show you some great data this afternoon. And just so you know, there’s no need to take notes as a recording of this webinar will be available for on-demand access. We’ll send out a link to everyone who registered for today’s event within two to three business days. And we’d love to hear from you. We encourage participation and we’ll answer any questions you may have immediately following this presentation. Your lines are muted, so please feel free to send any questions or comments using the question box in the GoTo webinar panel or email us at Would love any feedback you have, comments, tips, insights that you have that you’d like to share, anything that you would like to give to the rest of the audience. So before we dive in, just a little bit of background about each of our presenters today. This is Justin Ramb, founder and president of Bigeye. We opened our doors in 2002 and are an audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service marketing and advertising agency. We are based in sunny Orlando, Florida, but we serve clients across the US and beyond. Insights and research have become central to every engagement the agency undertakes for its clients often during the discovery phase, as well as supporting creative development. Insights really is our heartbeat; it is in the DNA of our agency, understanding the audience and how they’re best going to consume your products or services. I am a pet parent, my wonderful King Charles cavalier, Rosie. And now I’ll turn it over to Dana.

Dana Cassell:       Hi, I’m Dana Cassell, senior strategist at Bigeye. I’ve been with the agency for about a decade, and in my role, I focus on consumer behavior, interpreting the results and findings from primary and secondary research. I’m also responsible for synthesizing data into insights that help our clients build strategically differentiated brands. I’m also a pet parent. We have Kona who is a black lab that turned one this week and an 11-year-old orange Tabby cat named Baxter.

Adrian Tennant:     Hello, I’m Adrian Tennant, VP of insights, at Bigeye. I’ve spent more than two decades working in advertising and marketing in digital planning and strategy roles, but today I lead Bigeye’s quantitative, qualitative, and neuromarketing studies to inform media planning and creative strategies. I too am a pet parent. I have two four-year-old Maine Coon cats, Polly and Mango, plus a 29-gallon aquarium with various fish, including tetras, cories, and a pleco named Bob. To those of you just joining us, welcome.

Justin Ramb:        So why this research study and why now? In 1988, 56% of US households had one or more pets. Thirty-one years later, the percentage stands at 67% – that’s an 11% increase, which means today 85 million households in the US have pets and this year $75 billion will be spent on pet-related products and services. Bigeye works with clients in the pet care space, so we are committed to tracking trends in this market to help our clients develop breakthrough marketing and communication strategies. We decided to undertake this primary research study and the results we’re sharing with you today. Over to Adrian.

Adrian Tennant:     The objective of Bigeye’s 2019 US Pet Industry Study is to yield insights into the buying habits and attitudes of owners of domestic pets. We collected the data for this primary research in July and August of this year from a sample of 784 adults aged 25 to 55 located across the United States. For reporting purposes, we’ve grouped respondents into the four geographic regions shown here: the South; the West; the Midwest; and the Northeast. Unless noted otherwise, the results we’re sharing with you today have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5% at the 95% confidence level. Dana, over to you.

Dana Cassell:       Thanks, Adrian. So let’s get started by taking a look at pet ownership, which animals are most popular, and how ownership may be influenced by the environment. Most owners of pets have dogs and or cats. 75% of respondents in our study owned dogs, and 46% owned cats. Ownership of other animals are more modest with fish at 10 percent, birds at 6%, and small mammals at 4%. Because most families that own fish have more than one fish in that home, fish outnumber other domestic pets: estimated at 139 million in the United States as of 2018. Sixty-six percent of respondents in our study own one pet, while 25% have two pets, and 9% have more than two. Single pet ownership is most prevalent among respondents living in apartments, townhouses, and condos. Multiple pets are more likely among cat, bird, and fish owners living in single-family homes. Ninety-five percent of owners consider pets a member of their family; 12% of owners consider their pets probably a member of the family, while 83% consider their pets definitely a member of the family. Responses were consistent on this question from owners across regions, within different household income bands, and all age ranges. This really is illuminating about how we view our pets and how humanization influences pet products, services, and brand premiumization. So when is the best time to introduce a pet into a family? In a separate study undertaken within the research platform Suzy, Bigeye asked 503 mothers across the US how old a child should be when a pet is introduced into the home. In open-ended responses, which you can see here, 42% indicated ages two through seven, and 27% said ages seven through 11 years old. Where do we find our pets? Thirty-nine percent of pets are purchased: 21% from a breeder, 13% from stores, and 5% online. Thirty-six percent of pets are adopted, typically from a shelter. For 14% of respondents, family and friends were a source, and 7% reported taking in a stray. We noted that adoption is far more likely with respondents in the West, in the suburbs, and in two-person households. Seventy percent of pets were acquired with some pre consideration: higher percentages of women, people earning between $35,000 and $50,000 annually, people living in rural areas, and those who got their pet from a friend or relative tended to be more spontaneous than other segments.

Adrian Tennant:     Thanks, Dana. Let’s turn now to what we’re buying for our pets and where from. Pet owners purchase a variety of items on a regular basis. Treats and toys top the list: 73% of pet owners report buying treats, while 62% purchase toys. Fifty-four percent of owners purchased specialty food and 41% buy store brands. Further down the list are medicine and pet sundries, such as grooming supplies, bedding, accessories, apparel and training aids, close out the list of pet owners’ regular purchases. Spend is comparable across most segments. Overall, 76% of owners spend less than $100 per month on pet items; for 45% of owners, this adds up to between $600 and $1,200 per year, but 19% spend double that rate – up to $2,400 annually. Omnichannel retailers’ in-store purchases for pet-related products still outpace online. Individually, Walmart tops the list: 66% shopped for pet products there in the past year. PetSmart at 62%, Petco at 56%, and at 44%, top the list of pet-specific retailers. Owners in the West were more likely than those in other regions to purchase in-store at Petco, and much more likely to purchase from Costco or Sam’s Club. Owners located in the Northeast were much more likely than others to purchase from drug stores such as CVS, Walgreens, and Duane Reade. In addition to products, pet owners purchase services. At 36%, veterinary care tops the categories of pet services. Grooming is second-most popular at 24%. Pet sitter/feeder combined with walkers is at 14%, level with the combined categories of boarding and daycare. Close to half of all pet owners – 45 percent – give their pet vitamins or supplements. Twenty-five percent have insurance for their pet – 40 percent of owners with insurance said that a vet recommendation most influenced their decision to purchase. Twenty-three percent participate in medicine, vitamin, or supplement subscriptions. It’s worth noting that 86% of owners spend under $1,000 per year on medical care for their pets. Just over one-third of owners – 34% – participate in one or more pet-related subscription services. Among those owners that subscribe, 63 percent do so for food, while just over half – 52% – subscribe for toys and accessories. Forty-eight percent subscribe for health products or supplements and 35% for pet treats. For these services, a particular demographic pattern plays out: owners aged 25-34, living in a townhome or a condo, and in an urban area are more likely to subscribe than other groups. These findings held true across all four regions of the US. So with Halloween just around the corner, more than one-third of all pet owners (36%) at least sometimes purchase costumes for their pets. The practice is most widespread among owners aged 25-34, of 2 or more pets, dog owners, those living in apartments, townhomes, and condos, in urban areas. Female and male owners are equally likely to purchase costumes. Back to you, Dana.

Dana Cassell:       Thanks, Adrian. Cannabidiol – or CBD – is derived from hemp or cannabis, but is non-psychoactive, making it accessible to almost anyone, including pets. CBD has gone mainstream in record time and is considered a treatment for everything from anxiety to arthritis pain. But how willing are pet parents to ditch chew toys in favor of CBD-infused treats? The Bigeye study finds that CBD is currently administered by 17% of pet owners; 42% don’t currently use CBD-infused products but would consider doing so for their pet in the future; about a quarter – 24% – are holdouts, and 17 percent are unsure. Pet owners currently using CBD products are much more likely than non-users to have health insurance for their pets: 56% of those currently using CBD have insurance, compared with 25% of all owners. Pet owners see many potential uses for CBD. The dominant CBD indication is as an anxiety and stress reducer: 43 percent of users are currently administering CBD for that purpose and 37% of owners open to its use would use it for that. Sixteen percent of owners – users and non-users – use or would consider CBD to treat nausea, 15% for seizures, 13% for cancer symptoms, and 9% to treat gastrointestinal issues. Non-users are more likely than current users to consider CBD for alleviating cancer symptoms and gastrointestinal issues by 4 to 7 percentage points, respectively. The full report, which will be sent to everyone who registered for today’s webinar, includes a lot more about owners’ attitudes towards the use of CBD for their pets. A fascinating consumer trend. Back to you, Adrian.

Adrian Tennant:     Thanks, Dana. So how do owners decide what to feed their pets, and what influences the trial of new products and services? When it comes to deciding what to feed their pets, 49 percent – almost half of all owners – said they look to recommendations from their veterinarian; 37 percent said advice from friends and family; one-third of respondents identified product reviews as strongly influencing their selection. When we asked what drives pet owners to try new products, 21% of owners selected coupon, sale, or discount. Coupons seem a bit anachronistic, but in the digital age they double as discount codes and consumers’ online research often includes checking for the availability of such codes. At 20% is the more attribute-based nutritional benefit. Next were reviews at 13% and friend recommendations at 12%. At 11%, samples work on the same premise as coupons. This chart shows the most influential factors in pet product decision factors, measured individually on a scale from zero to ten, to gauge their influence. The higher the average score, the greater the influence. In the upper-tier are direct health benefits offered as well as product quality in the form of longevity or durability. Value is a critical factor, meaning that the decision is about more than just price. And again, vet recommendations play an influential role Pet owners who subscribe learned about their subscription service through a variety of sources. One-third of subscribers learned about their service from a website, while 18% said an advertisement, and 14% said word of mouth. Which segues nicely with the final section of our study – back to you, Dana.

Dana Cassell:       Thanks, Adrian. As a marketing communications agency, we especially want to know pet owners interact with various ad formats and on what devices. Smartphones really are omnipresent: use of the device pervades every corner of our lives. For many, smartphones are the most available, convenient, and immediate point of access to information. So it is perhaps not surprising that in the Bigeye study, 38% of pet owners indicate the smartphone is their preferred device for engaging with advertisements. For 28% of pet owners, it’s the television, and for almost one-quarter, it’s a laptop or desktop computer. We do see some significant generational differences in device usage. The most notable variations are based on age: owners younger than 35 (47%) are most willing to engage with advertisements using their smartphones. Those 45 and older lean more toward TV (38%) than smartphones (26%). We also observe some variations based on the area. Although the smartphone dominates overall, pet owners in suburban areas were 12 percentage points (34%) less likely than owners in rural areas (46%) to engage with advertisements on their phones. TV is least likely to be engaged with by urban pet owners (23%) compared to those in suburban (31%) and rural areas (30%). Forty-one percent of pet owners selected TV commercials as their preferred format for advertisements. Combining Facebook (19%) and Instagram (11%) with influencers (4%), social media represents 34%. Video, the category considered emergent, hits 21% and consistency across different age groups confirms this trend. Pet owners aged 45-55 lean more toward TV ads while those younger than 35 favor social media and video-based ads. One thing is clear – video ads produced for display on smartphones are most likely to resonate with Millennial pet owners. We’ve not had time to cover everything in the report, but let’s take a minute to highlight some of the trendlines. Millennial pet owners are about half as likely to be married or living with a partner than previous generations and are also delaying parenthood. This generational difference has resulted in higher rates of pet ownership among this cohort and for some owners, pets have become a replacement for children. With a high percentage of younger pet owners living in apartments in urban and suburban areas, multi-family property developers should emphasize pet-friendly amenities and highlight nearby city parks or trails for dog walking in their marketing communications. Those aged 25-34 were most likely to state their pets had influenced where they live. Many pets are left alone for a large portion of the day and owner awareness of the stress this can cause is growing. In fact, for the owners in our study already using CBD products for their pets, as well as those that would be interested in doing so, the alleviation of anxiety is their primary reason for using CBD. While Gen X-ers and Millennials (Gen Y) are as likely as each other to access information via a smartphone the older generation is more likely to favor TV commercials to learn about pet products. But to reach younger owners, social media and online videos are key. Over to you, Adrian.

Adrian Tennant:     Thanks. In our study, 45% of owners reported spending between $600 and $1,200 annually on pet food, treats, medical care, and entertainment. And with almost 20% of owners spending up to $2,400 per year, it’s clear to see why the US market is worth $75 billion in 2019. We don’t want to jinx it, but the market looks pretty recession-proof based on these data points. With the increased humanization of pets comes the opportunity for direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands to provide pet-friendly versions of the products that their owners already use and enjoy themselves — everything from vitamins and nutritional supplements to Instagram-friendly costumes. Opportunities also exist for healthcare and medical device manufacturers, as activity trackers and wearables are becoming part of the day-to-day lives of a growing number of pets, making them as connected as their human owners. Smartphones support the monitoring of such devices within a tech ecosystem. Our study indicates pet owners are open to the convenience of subscription services, especially those in the 25-34 age group. Owners seek out pet food products that they perceive as having nutritional benefits — often at a price premium. Obesity is increasingly an issue for pets, and pet food formulations designed to maintain a healthy weight, as well as “all-natural” diets, hairball control, etc. reflect the breadth of consumer choice in the category. Now I’m going to hand back to you, Justin.

Justin Ramb:        Thanks, Adrian and Dana, we have just a few minutes left, so if you have any questions, please use the question box in the GoToWebinar on the side, or if you would like to email us at That would be great. We have received some questions during the webinar, so we’d like to take those right now. Beth asks, did you see any differences in the ways men and women respond to the survey? Dana, would you like to take this one?

Dana Cassell:       Sure. The short answer is that no we didn’t, we did not see a statistically significant difference in responses from men and women. While we did have a great cross-section in gender, but I want to tell you, I’m really interested in the overlap of our research in mom marketing and in pet industry marketing because we saw 95% of pet owners view their pets as a member of the family. So we are really interested in our findings about communicating with parents the way that they make purchasing decisions for their children and the parallels that might have in this industry.

Justin Ramb:        Great. Thanks, Dana. Our next question, Erik asks, could you expand on what differences you saw between generations and media channels? Adrian one for you to take.

Adrian Tennant:     Yes, thank you. So this is something we didn’t really highlight today, but generational preferences, definitely reflect differences in what drives owners to try new products. You know, the youngest cohort in our study, those between 25 and 34, surprisingly over-index for email. That was a surprise for us – as well as commercials. and social media. The next cohort, ages 35 to 44, over-index for recommendations from friends and family. That’s still the most influential group. While the oldest cohort in this study, those aged 45 to 55, significantly over-index for coupons or discounts and were the most likely to be interested in nutritional benefits.

Justin Ramb:        Great. Thank you. Adrian. Next question from Peter, is there a difference between the money amount spent on pets based on geography?

Dana Cassell:       Well, we did see that owners the South are the most generous pet owners and their average I think is about $200 a month, which you might remember is about double what the majority of the respondents in our study say. So yeah, in the South we saw a bit more generosity among owners toward their pets.

Justin Ramb:        Thanks, Dana. Ryan asks for pet owners with pet insurance, was there a variance by age of pet parents?

Adrian Tennant:     Yes, there was, and guess what everybody? It was the younger owners that were most likely to have pet insurance, which again surprised us. We thought it would be the older parents, but no. Those young ones really are most committed as pet parents in every respect. They were definitely the ones most likely to buy health insurance.

Justin Ramb:        Linda, thank you. Your question, your question is does your study address the frequency of purchases by category specifically related to the slide that included the pet products purchased frequently?

Adrian Tennant:     Yes, so I can take that one. So when we looked at the purchase of food, we did see some differences in frequency. Folks with large mammals – we’re thinking typically for this study that was horses – were the least likely to buy food on a regular basis, whereas the owners of reptiles and amphibians, were more likely to be purchasing food on a weekly basis. And we assumed that that was because that’s live food in many cases. For the vast majority of folks, it was definitely every few weeks to monthly. I hope that answers the question.

Justin Ramb:        Great. Let’s see here. Jason asked, “you reported pet insurance adoption at around 25%. That sounds very high. I’ve typically seen estimates for US pet health insurance penetration closer to 2%. What am I missing?”

Adrian Tennant:     I think that is a great question. We can only report how 784 respondents responded to the survey. I agree that seems like quite a big variance. Obviously, all of our folks were pet parents and I guess prepared to answer a survey about being pet parents and their purchase behaviors. I don’t know how to attribute that difference.

Justin Ramb:        Great. Any other questions? I will touch on this. Catherine, you asked, “will we be able to get a copy of the report after this webinar?” Absolutely. Right after this call, everybody that registered for the webinar will receive a link to download the report. It is a wonderful report – it unpacks a lot of what has been covered with a lot of insights from our team on what we discovered through the data. So, absolutely you’ll get a copy of that report. I really do hope everybody enjoyed the information we shared today. We are excited to release the report. This afternoon we’ll also be doing a podcast with the team to discuss the results in more detail. We will be sending out an email with a link to the podcast once that goes up. And if you have any questions that we didn’t get to or you think about after, or after you receive the report and would like some more information, please email us and we’ll make sure we address them in a podcast or follow up with you individually. We’ll also include details of the podcast and the webinar recording – all of that will be sent to you as well. So finally, on behalf of Dana, Adrian, and myself and the entire Bigeye team, we thank you for attending today’s webinar. Have a great afternoon.

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