This is the 6th 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.
Technology has been transforming industries on a large scale like never before and the pet product industry is no exception. Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi-controlled, and even facial recognition technology are now incorporated in many pet tech devices. In 2019, sales of “smart” pet-tech products shot up by 11%, to almost half a billion U.S. dollars. According to Global Market Insights, the pet tech market size is predicted to reach $20 billion by 2025. In the era of Industry 4.0, with technology fueling new ways of manufacturing, innovative product design, digital marketing, and so forth, the adoption of pet tech is rapidly growing into a new norm.
In our previous study, Moms in Asia 2020, we explored “Fam-Tech” (Family Technology) adoption amongst Asian moms, finding that moms in Asia are using technology to make caring for their babies more convenient, comfortable, and efficient. In The Big Pet Survey 2020, we continue to learn about attitudes towards technology adoption amongst pet owners in the U.S. We will now zoom in on how “Pet-Tech” makes its way into more and more pet-owning families, changing the lives of our beloved four-legged friends.
The Usage Is Small, Yet The Potential Is Huge
Although the majority of pet owners are not currently using pet-tech products (such as interactive toys, self-cleaning litter robots, wellness-monitoring devices, etc.), roughly a third of them are thinking about buying in the future.
Owners who use pet-tech cite reasons for alleviating safety and wellbeing concerns while they are away from their pets. Younger pet owners within Generation Z (44%) and Millennial (33%) age groups, as seasoned tech-users, are more motivated to purchase pet-tech products compared to pet owners in older age groups.
Be Dazzled By Pet-Tech Products
Amongst current pet-tech product users, interactive toys (such as an automatic ball thrower, laser toys for cats, etc.) and location tracking devices (such as a location tracking collar, etc.) are the most popular. Smart feeding machines and automatic water fountains are also popular choices.
Undoubtedly, the pet-tech industry is infused with creativity and innovation. The list of the newest inventions in the pet-tech industry goes on, from self-cleaning cat litter boxes to automatic facial recognition feeders that prevent overfeeding, WiFi-controlled digital cameras, “smart pet doors” that permit only the proper pet resident, and many more. Although IoT and AI technology in pet care is fairly new, it has already become a strong driver of growth for the pet care industry.
Safety And Mental Health of Pets Are Equally Important
For professionals that work outside the home, leaving pets at home is a constant worry. When asked about the main reasons to use pet-tech products, the majority of respondents (40%) said that safety was their prime consideration. Thanks to pet-tech, humans can check on their beloved pets remotely and virtually be there for them. In addition to safety, pet owners also value using technology to better monitor their pets’ physical wellness and keep them entertained at home. More than half (56%) of dog owners and 34% of cat owners worry their pets feel lonely or bored by themselves at home.
Gen-Zers in particular utilizes smart toys more often to entertain their pets, compared to safety-driven pet owners across other generations. For example, using pet-tech, owners participate in interactive games such as “fetch”, entertaining their pets remotely, simply with a few swipes on their smartphone. As more pet owners are aware of the importance of their pets’ mental health, they’re willing to purchase tech-devices to keep their pets happy, especially during times of crisis, including COVID-19.
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The benefits of using pet-tech are quite clear: making sure our precious pets are healthy and happy while we are not able to company them around the clock. With pet-tech services, pet owners also have easy access to their pets’ health status and informative health tips from vets, amongst many other valuable benefits. Some tech companies that do not directly specialize in pet care look beyond their traditional offering to accommodate pet owners and pets’ needs. For example, the ride-share app Uber introduced an “Uber Pet” option for passengers with furry friends, aiming to provide an easy solution for pet owners to travel with their precious pets. In Japan, technology has even replaced real pets with robots for people who love pets but are not able to care for real animals in their household.
According to our study, affordability is a major barrier that keeps the majority of pet owners from using pet-tech, who deal with already-high expenses of pet ownership. Brands are working to introduce more affordable smart gadgets for pets in order to broaden the market share, in addition to developing and refining a rich variety of innovative pet-tech products.
Despite the fact that pet-tech is not yet a widely-adopted concept, awareness, and intent to purchase pet-tech products are growing rapidly. After all, caring for our lovely pets and improving their quality of life is what every pet owner wants. For marketers, understanding customer pain points around taking care of their pets provide a clear strategic direction. As an expert in declarative consumer research, we are excited to see how technology reshapes consumer behaviors and what it means for marketers in the pet industry.