Gone are the days when pet owners considered a doghouse, collar, and kibble the only necessary purchases for their four-legged friends. Now, all kinds of pet parents—cat, bird, rodent, reptile, and exotic animal owners in addition to dog owners—are willing to splurge to ensure their companion has the best. In fact, a recent report from the American Pet Products Association found that American pet owners spent $53 million on their animals in 2012.
As a result of pet owners’ spending habits, there’s never been a better time to break into the world of online pet supply retail. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind about pet owners as buyers.
Pet owners tend to be loyal to a brand of pet food. Pet owners often have strong feelings about what they feed their pets, with some people sticking to one brand they’ve had good results with and others making their own pet food at home. It’s not necessarily impossible to make money by selling your own homemade pet food online, but you’ll likely facing challenges wooing pet owners away from their current brand.
Pet owners want information. According to pet blogger Yvonne DiVita, today’s pet owner is passionate about online content and information. They want to read about everything from designing a doggie obstacle course to keeping their cat from scratching the furniture before they make any purchasing decisions, so consider creating a blog to complement the pet products you’re selling. Include links to your online store in your blog, so readers can easily purchase the products you write about.
Pet owners enjoy activities they can do with their animals. Pet ownership has become a lifestyle, and many pet owners are buying equipment that allows them to enjoy specific activities with their pets. For example, canine life jackets allow dogs to come kayaking, and outdoor habitats allow parakeets to spend time outside while their owners garden. Think about activities owners may enjoy doing with their pets, and look for a market with room for growth.
Pet owners consider their pets to be family members. Nine out of ten pet owners consider pets a part of their family, and as a result, some owners do everything from buying holiday gifts for their animals to commissioning pet portraits. When choosing what pet supplies to sell, think about ways in which owners may want to “treat” their pets—and themselves.
By understanding the modern pet owner, you can better market your products to them. If your product is for a specific type of animal, immerse yourself in the subculture related to caring for that pet. The more you understand, the more effective your marketing can be.