"Premium" pet owners (PPOs)--defined as single-person households with incomes of $50,000 or more, double-income households with incomes of $75,000 or more, and three-or-more-person households with incomes of $100,000 or more--now account for 33% of all pet owners, or 17.4 million households, and they're spending up a storm, according to a new "Premium Pet Demographics and Product Purchasing Preferences" study from the Packaged Facts division of Marketresearch.com.
These "über" owners more than tripled their household pet expenditures between 1995 and 2005, from $5.2 billion to $18.6 billion.
Furthermore, as of '05, PPOs bought 43% of pet food (spending an average of $198 per household annually); 54% of vet services ($169 annually); 50% of supplies ($123 annually); and 62% of other pet services ($66 annually).
"Affluents" (household incomes of $150,000 or greater) are the largest cohort within the overall PPO universe--representing 4.8 million, or 28%, of these households. Other groups driving the phenomenon include specialty shoppers (who buy only through pet stores or the Internet), marrieds-with-children, empty nesters, DINKs and singles. Collectively, these six subgroups account for 81% of all PPO households.
Some other intriguing demographic tidbits:
Not surprisingly, PPOs and non-PPOs buy more or less the same staples, but PPOs tend to go for more upscale treats and spend a bit more on treats and health-related items:
Of course, the splurging on pooches and felines is no news to marketers chomping at the bit to provide PPOs with an ever-expanding array of offerings--particularly those that address owners' concern with providing a high-nutrition, taste-tempting diet.
Over half (52%) of last year's 132 pet food introductions were "upscale," according to Productscan Online data cited by PF. (Thirty percent of non-food introductions were also of the premium variety.)
Food brands touting nutritional/digestive benefits head the Top 10 lists of products more likely to be purchased by PPOs than non-PPOs for both dogs and cats (although the cats' list also includes a couple of premium litter brands), PF found.
The top-indexing dog products are Iams Eukanuba dry food (168); Nestle Purina Pro Plan dry food (150); Nutro dry food (147); Natural Balance dry food (144); Light/Weight Management dry food (143); Iams Eukanuba treats (143); Nestle Purina Chew-Eez treats (138); Del Monte Pup-Peroni treats (134); Nestle Purina Pro Plan canned food; and Iams dry food (128).
The top-indexing cat products are Mars Bonkers treats (200); Hill's Science Diet canned food (179); Light/Weight Management dry food (158); Hill's Science Diet dry food (154); Iams dry food (153); Nestle Purina Pro Plan dry food (130); Crystals cat litter (130); Mars Whiskas Homestyle Favorites (129); Iams Eukanuba dry food (125) and Clorox Fresh Step litter (123).
And the recent scandals surrounding contaminated ingredients from China in some brands notwithstanding, pets are benefiting from major brands' huge infusions of grant money to animal nutrition research programs at universities and veterinary hospitals, according to The New York Times Magazine.
Still, big-brand watchdogs take notice: "Non-industrialized," boutique upstart brands featuring natural and organic ingredients, like Righteous Dog Food, Hot Dog Charlie's Chili Meat Sauce, Spacey Tracy's Sweet Sunshine Pickles and Evanger's Premium Gold Dinners (certified kosher by the Chicago Rabbinical Council) are breeding like rabbits, the Times reports.