This is the 3rd 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.


Pet owners come in all ages and types. No matter how young or old we are, the benefits and joy of having a pet are tremendous: unconditional love, emotional support, warm companionship, genuine friendship, and so much more. At various points in life, pet ownership can be viewed and experienced differently. In our study, we explore how age contributes to decision-making and how it shapes consumer habits when it comes to caring for pets. 

According to the American Pet Products Association, 67% of U.S. households (approximately 85 million families) have pets. Our survey includes pet owners ages 18 to 65 years old, encompassing Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z, who demonstrate distinguishing preferences of pet care, attitudes towards pet-tech, and habits of pet-related social media usage. Here are some prominent behaviors that we discovered across multi-generational pet owners. 


Pets Play Significant Roles In Our Lives

Pet owners view their relationship with their pets differently according to their age group. For younger generations, many people choose to have dogs and cats to learn to be responsible and to prepare for having a family. We observed from the survey results that Gen Z and Millennial pet owners are more likely to see their pups and kitties as “their children” compared to other generations. 56% of the Baby Boomer pet owners consider their pets as “their beloved family members”. Undoubtedly, having pets in our lives brings tremendous advantages and fun. Amongst all surveyed generations, “reducing stress, loneliness, and anxiety” was the biggest mutually recognized benefit. Gen Z pet owners believe having pets strengthens their mental health by making them feel safer and lets them gain a greater sense of responsibility. The Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer pet owners claimed they enjoy getting more exercise and improving their health with pets by their side. More importantly, seniors need companionship especially for those living alone or in times of crisis such as COVID-19.


Millennials Are Willing To Spare No Cost For Their Dogs

When asked what ingredients they like to feed their dogs, the majority of respondents chose commonly used protein sources such as poultry, beef, and pork. Noticeably, Millennial pet owners are more likely to prefer more expensive ingredients such as fish (34%) and lamb (34%) to feed their dogs. Around 44% of Millennials purchase or make healthy/organic food for their dogs, and 33% do so for their cats. Millennial pet owners, especially those at a higher than average income level, prove to be a profitable market to the pet product industry, as they prefer high-quality pet food and healthy options for their dogs and cats. 


The Challenges Of Having Pets Are Exaggerated

Dogs and cats are indeed adorable, but nonetheless they need their humans’ help to stay healthy and clean. For this reason, we asked pet owners about their biggest challenges in pet care, both physically and financially. Interestingly, most respondents don’t feel overwhelmed when it comes to cleaning up after their pet, medical care, noise, home damage, nor the amount of daily effort required to care for their pets.

Financially all the surveyed generations agreed that vet care for pets is the most significant expense as a pet owner, except Generation Z, who claimed that pet food is what they spend the most on. As for pets’ safety and wellness, Gen Z-ers’ pets are the most likely (67%) to have an ID name tag/collar, while 61% of the Millennial pet owners said their pets have microchips. Roughly one-tenth (11%) of Gen Z-ers and Millennials purchase insurance for their dogs or cats. 


Pet-Tech Stirs More Hype Amongst Younger Generations

When it comes to techy pet products, 58% of the respondents who were over 55 years old were against using these gadgets, while 44% of Gen Z and 33% of Millennial pet owners consider purchasing pet-tech products. Gen Z pet owners are the most likely to use pet-tech gadgets for entertaining their pets or keeping their wellness in check.


Social Media: Funny & Adorable Pets For All

Can’t help but stop scrolling when cute animal images or videos pop up on your social media feeds? You are not alone. Unsurprisingly, the surveyed individuals appreciate content such as “Hilarious” and “Cuteness overload” styles of content on social media. Noticeably, Gen Z pet owners are more likely to be active followers of the categories that are more story-focused, such as “Charity/pet adoption” and “Inspiring animal rescue stories”. Gen X and Baby Boomers mainly consume pet content through Facebook (70+%), while Gen Z and Millennials are also keen on using Instagram and YouTube.

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Pet owners rely on their pets to bring love, laughter, and comfort as they accompany us through all life stages. We see society embracing the positive emotional roles that pets play in our lives as more schools provide mental health support animals, pets are being permitted in some offices, companion/service animals are introduced in senior care homes and facilities, to name a few. Even though people might see animals playing various roles in their lives, the affection towards our precious, furry friends is universally powerful. 

As financial situations, lifestyles, and needs vary amongst generations, it is critical to understand how pet care differentiates across ages as well.

Leveraging powerful declarative consumer research and insights has become an essential marketing input. Knowing where pet owners’ focuses are, what pet-related content and channels they follow, and what type of relationships they have with their pets will largely enhance the effectiveness of brands’ marketing efforts.