Understanding Connections Between Millennials & Pets

FLM Harvest

I’m not sure about your workplace, but we spend hours in the meeting rooms and halls of FLM Harvest talking about millennials. And for good reason. This generation represents a veritable gold mine for marketers smart enough to know how to connect.

You’ve probably heard the data points concerning sheer size and spending power:

  • Millennials are the largest demographic generation at an estimated 82 million people, according to BridgeWorks. Boomers are No. 2 at about 80 million, traditionalists i.e., those born before 1946, are No. 3 at 75 million, and Gen Xers finish in a fairly distant fourth place at 60 million.
  • Millennials possess an estimated $1.3 trillion in buying power, according to Boston Consulting Group.

These statistics illustrate that millennials are a group well worth understanding. So why is it then that so much of what we think about millennials is wrong? For example:

  • We think millennials only buy online, but 50 percent of millennials prefer to shop at brick-and-mortar stores, according to SmarterHQ.
  • We think millennials aren’t brand loyal, when in fact they are the mostbrand-loyal generation of all, per research from Elite Daily.
  • We are certain millennials are aloof, but 75 percent would share personal information in exchange for a personalized experience, according to CrowdTwist.

When it comes to millennials and their pets, the story is just as interesting. First off, millennials truly lovetheir pets. About 35 percent of this group owns a pet, making millennials the largest pet-owning generation out there. Beyond the sheer numbers, the way millennials think about their pets is compelling. 82 percent adopt pets to prepare for eventual children and thus think of and treat their pets as “starter kids” per statistics from the American Pet Products Association. This group will only continue to grow in influence with 2.6 million more millennials slated to adopt pets by 2020, according to MarketResearch.com.

And boy oh boy, are millennials treating those starter kids well! Study after study shows millennials are willing to lavish their pets with only the best in terms of bling, clothes, food and treats. In fact, millennials say they are more likely to purchase luxury bedding or gourmet treats for their furry friends than for themselves, according to the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.

The pet market has been growing steadily for years and is considered by many to be recession proof. However, one of the conundrums in the veterinary community is that, while overall spending on pets is on the rise among all generations, that representative increase hasn’t necessarily been evident in pet owner visits to veterinarians. In other words, we’ll buy Sophie that Martha Stewart faux mink collar, but may skip the visit for the Bordetella shot that’s due.

Here, once again, is where millennials surprise. New research out this year from Packaged Facts shows millennials are more likely than their older counterparts to seek out the advice of a veterinarian and are three times as likely to seek a DVM’s opinion for a selection of pet food than dog owners 55 to 74.

So, the group who is obsessed with Insta and Snapchat and seemingly has a mobile device fused to their hands is more likely than any other to seek out a DVM in a personal interaction in an old-fashioned, brick-and-mortar clinic. Who knew? Clearly, the millennials know.

I have a dime-store theory about why this statistic bears out. We know from research that millennials value authenticity along with different experiences, and a visit to a clinic and interaction with a DVM and staff provide both in spades.

Whatever the driver, this trend is an extremely positive one for the DVM community, whose influence has been eroded by years of 1-800-PET MEDS orders and “Dr. Google”counsel. Who knew we could count on millennials to save the day?



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