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AUDIT: PET RETAIL, FROM NOSES TO TAILS

AUDIT : Here's a look into the Pet industry and some of the top opportunities we see as pet ownership continued to expand and 'humanize'.

Future of Retailing in the Pet Industry

Bonnie’s puppy, Miso, first visit to the Petgamart!

While regional and global economies are moving into recovery mode, the pet industry continues to experience tremendous growth and potential further consolidation. 

Searching for some treats?  We always are at SPARK!  We believe that by recognising and responding to social trends and developments in consumer behavior brands can stay current, top of mind, and maximize the customer’s ‘willingness to pay and play’.

Here is a look into the Pet industry and some of the top opportunities we see that could be better addressed.

Background: 

Asia’s pet industry has seen substantial growth of over 14.3% annually from 2016 to 2021.  Singapore’s pet dog and cat figures have grown nearly 19% in the past five years reaching 196,600 in 2019.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, this article in Straits Times highlighted that having a pet provides companionship and can make the owners’ life more fulfilling, which is even more so when adopting an animal in need.

The pet care industry is booming as people around the world — especially millennials — are blurring the line between human child and animal. “Pet parenting” is reshaping the landscape for the pet consumer packaged goods, retail and service industries.  In a recent study, 34% of owners say their pet influenced where they choose to live and 95% of owners consider pets a part of their family.

Who are the players?

In the Asian region, traditional brick-and-mortar establishments such as Pet Lover’s Centre have successfully expanded to dominate the market as exclusive providers of high-quality food and service offerings, such as grooming or daycare.  Meanwhile, digital native pet brands such as Perromart and Polypet are steadily gaining more market share.  The rest of the market is still fragmented to smaller Mom & Pop stores offering personalises local store experiences.

Meanwhile international markets have seen great consolidation into mega brands offering one stop shops for all manner or pets – as successful online portals and big box physical retail formats, of which some flagship locations are now integrating many different pet services such that only about one-third of the space may be used for selling inventory

4 Insights and Opportunities in the Pet Industry

1. Increasing Separation Anxiety 

Some pets, particularly dogs, are known to suffer terrible separation anxiety when their owners are out, but now we’re starting to see pet owners (as shown in recent studies) suffering more anxiety than their pets.  Post-pandemic, when our work and play lives start to move back to normal, how will attached pet-parents manage not being with their fur kids 24-7? 

Opportunity : We see opportunities in creating more pet-friendly spaces. Co-working spaces or pet friendly offices that allow owners to continue to spend time with their pets and help to socialise and ice break with others in these shared spaces.  Pet friendly hotels, cafe’s, bars and restaurants could all make the most of this opportunity in future. 

Pet cafes and social spaces – TFB The Fantastic Beasts | A small zoo on the fifth floor of the prosperous coastal city of Shenzhen
Pets in the office – Pawrents, you don’t have to feel guilty about leaving your pup at home alone all day anymore.

2. Lifestyle Projection

Consumer’s own desires for healthy foods and a healthy lifestyles are projected as needs & wants for their pets.  So as we see the growth in human trends in health and wellness including nutrition, food ingredients, and exercise we see the same in certain pet categories.  In short, what pet owners want for themselves, they want for their pets.

These are consumers that are interested in going BPA-free on toys, spending a more for natural and organic foods, or seeking out hypoallergenic cleaning products. The paradigm shift of ‘pet-parenting’ has set off changes in how consumers shop, forcing retailers and manufacturers alike to reinvent themselves.

 

Human-grade bone broth for pets
Petco is taking experiential retail with the opening of its first-ever pet food kitchen.
Opportunity: There is a real opportunity to further mirror human trends into a vast range of goods and services – from pet insurance, dog beer to cat counselling, pet weddings and “social pet-working” it seems anything goes but the trick will be to find what is sustainable and what is just novelty.
3. The Third Pet Place
The pet health and wellness market has been the second biggest segment under the industry umbrella, followed closely after the pet-food & treats market.  At SPARK, we have seen a very recent rise in services such as hydrotherapy, acupuncture, pet DNA testing, and allergy centres all the way to special ranges of pet paw-care products.  These are just some examples that align with the ego trend of pet-humanization.

Opportunity : We see missed opportunities in providing specialist Centers for pets that focus on particular problems such as aging & death, allergy issues (case study on Balu), weight loss & mobility. 

This working hospital, therapy, and recovery center serves traumatized animals and helps them heal through its surgery rooms, an x-ray room, a hydrotherapy treadmill, grooming rooms, relief rooms, isolation rooms, and a substantial food-prep area.
Vodka the labrador, during a hydrotherapy session!

Along with old age, end of life is an inevitable experience all pet owners will face.  With pets seen akin to family members, there is an opportunity to better service the bereaved or those caring for very sick close to death pets.

Sanctuary Pet Cremation, located at Neo Tiew Lane, Singapore

4. Big Box

In the Southeast Asia region, chain store pet retailers are not common as yet with a large proportion of stores being independently owned neighbourhood stores.  We still see a big opportunity fo the one stop destination for pets – for fur, fin and feathers? We see big box retailer for other industries thriving in Asia, ie for sports we have DECATHLON, for home finishes we have IKEA.  These store formats are well established and proven successful other markets so why not in Southeast Asia where pet ownership is just as strong.
Petbarn sells one of the biggest ranges of pet food in Australia.
Conceptual programs such as check-up area, bath area, spa area, grooming area, dry area, and massage area for the pets
Opportunity: What are the possible experiences we can combine it with if we do have a PET BIG BOX and who is best positioned to establish a local presence.  These could be major destinations for pet owners not just for purchasing products and services but as social and pet breed communities meeting places.  They could incorporate pet friendly F&B, Swimming, Boarding, Agility courses and health and wellness centres.   At SPARK, we believe that integrating user experience with pet-bond activities will create spaces that ‘pet people’ will return to again and again.
In LA, Blue Collar Working Dog: A Combined Retail Space and Agility Course
Nova Pets | a communal place where pet and people can mingle with different experiential zones

What’s next?

Being clear about what the brand stands for, paying attention to how your customer interacts with space, and keeping up to date with emerging technologies helps us create spaces that customers return to again and again. 

SPARK are Retail Design and Customer Experience specialists, we look to the future to help businesses re-imagine their retail experiences and ensure they remain relevant to the consumer, building brand value and maximising the potential of retail spaces.

Featuring our furry friends of SPARK, Miso (Pomsky) puppy power and aging and recently departed Vodka (Labrador)!

 

Contact us for a confidential discussion  or view some of our other projects online


SPARK is a Singapore based retail design specialist, delivering unique and effective retail design solutions for its clients across the Asia Pacific Region.