After consumer electronics, pet care is the fastest-growing category in retail, expanding about 6% a year. Americans now spend $41 billion a year on their pets--more than the gross domestic
product of all but 64 countries in the world, and double the amount shelled out decade ago. What's more, spending is expected to hit $52 billion in the next two years.
The American Pet
Products Manufacturers Assn. reports that 42% of dogs now sleep in the same bed as their owners. Their menu reflects every fad in human food--from locally sourced organic meat and vegan snacks to
gourmet meals bolstered by, say, glucosamine for stiff joints. Half of all dog owners say they consider their pet's comfort when buying a car; almost one-third buy birthday gifts.
Companies from Procter & Gamble and Nestlé to fashion brands, including Polo Ralph Lauren, and thousands of small entrepreneurs are sniffing around for new opportunities in the pet sector. Del Monte has refocused staples to look more like human snacks, like Snausages breakfast treats shaped like bacon and eggs. Even Meow Mix now comes in plastic cups rather than cans.