This is the 1st insights digest from Segmanta’s brand new study, The Big Pet Survey 2020. We surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. pet owners (from July to August 2020) to understand consumer behaviors surrounding their pets, their lifestyle as pet owners, pet-tech usage, social media consumption, and their opinions, emotions, and sentiments as pet owners.


68% of households in the U.S. own pets, according to research by The American Pet Product Association. On average, each pet owner household spends around $300 per year on pet food and treats. The pet food and snacks industry has become the leading center-of-store category in the U.S. food and beverage market, winning more than $30 billion in sales annually. The US pet food market is estimated to reach $13.3 billion by 2023, with an annual growth rate of 5%. As an expert on declarative consumer insights, Segmanta conducted a deep-dive study into the fast-growing U.S. pet care industry from the perspective of its consumers. 

We begin with the most basic commodity: pet food. In this article, we take a closer look at the daily meals and rewarding snacks of our beloved dogs and cats that take care of our four-legged friends and improve their quality of life. 

Here are some key pet food insights from our survey results.


Dry Food? Wet Food?

76% of dog owners and 70% of cat owners mainly feed their pets dry food. Around 8% of respondents mainly provide their dogs with wet (canned) food while far more cat owners choose wet food, at 22%. 

Some experts believe that dry food has several benefits for both the dog and the owner, such as maintaining healthy dental hygiene, easy clean-up, and affordability. Dry kibbles for cats, on the other hand, have been proven to be less beneficial, usually containing more carbohydrates than canned cat food. Wet, canned food provides better hydration, higher protein content, and improves cats’ urinary health, according to veterinary research. Many pet food specialists recommend weighing the advantages and disadvantages of both dry and wet pet food to make the best choice for providing balanced nutrition.


Treats & Chews

Nothing gets our pets more excited than hearing the sound of a bag of treats being opened. These mouth-watering snacks help reward good behaviors, supplement nutrition, and enhance the bond between humans and their pets. The most popular (51%) treats for dogs are “cookies, biscuits & snacks”, while for cats, “dry soft treats” were the most beloved (58%) snacks.

Homemade treats – a spoonful of peanut butter or a chunk of canned tuna – would always satisfy our doggies and kitties’ craving, as easy alternatives for packaged pet treats. As for pet food ingredients, people who follow a carnivore diet prefer to feed their dogs beef, while all other dog owners prefer chicken in pet food ingredients. 


Healthy/Organic Pet Food?

43% of dog or cat owners respondents claim they buy or prepare healthy or organic food for their pets. Examining the breakdown in age groups among “natural” pet food consumers,  we discovered that Gen Z pet owners (18-25-year-olds) are most likely to feed their dogs and cats healthy or organic food, compared to other age groups. 

Shown in the survey results, the respondents who have diet preferences are 31% more likely to have their pets mirror their human diets. Nowadays, pet food promotions that use buzzwords such as “organic” or “natural”, certainly attract health-oriented pet owners (who read the pet food labels carefully) to choose these brands. To enhance pet food quality, manufacturers spent a considerable amount of effort to develop healthy, nutritious food for pets since healthy ingredients induce stronger buying intent of health-conscious pet owners, according to research done by BENEO. In addition to upgrading the nutritional content of pet food with nourishing supplements such as fish oil, vitamins, and minerals, many brands also avoid the use of antibiotics, toxic chemicals, and unnatural hormones.


Human Diet preferences vs. Pet Diets

Using our advanced segmentation functionalities, we measured the correlation between the diet preferences of pet owners versus the diet they choose for their pets. We found that pet owners who have indicated any diet preference (such as carnivore, omnivore, pescatarian, gluten-free, etc.) are 71% more likely to feed their pets a diet that aligns with their eating lifestyle. 


Ingredients Matter

In our survey, the majority of dog owners prefer to feed their dog poultry-based meals or snacks (64%), followed by beef (54%). Additionally, 33% of dog owners also prefer to feed vegetables to their pets to balance nutrition. Separately, cat owners favor poultry (67%) or fish (63%)-based cat food. 

Although the majority (76% of the dog owners, 70% of the cat owners) of the surveyed pet owners still prefer packaged, dry pet food, more have turned to home-cooked natural pet meals. By doing so, pet owners have more control of food content, nutrition, and can minimize processed ingredients.


Pet Food Today

As the pet food industry booms in the U.S. and globally, many manufacturers seek innovation in both the scientific and creative components of pet food that echo pet owners’ choices for their precious pets. Recent innovations include freeze-dried pet food and treats, plant-based protein meals, and more.

According to our survey, 76% of the pet owners view their dogs and cats as family members or even as their “children”. Pet food, the most basic contributor to pet health, is a way for pet owners to address their love and concerns towards their beloved pets, which many view as their family.

In an upcoming article, we will share additional in-depth discoveries around purchasing habits, buying frequency, spending breakdown, and more insights on pet owners in the U.S. generated from our Big Pet 2020 Survey