A pandemic-driven acquisition spree raised ownership of pets other than dogsand cats to the highest level in a decade for three of the four main “otherpet” types, with pet birds being the exception. In the wake of COVID-19,according to a new Packaged Facts report on Fish, Small Mammal, Herptile,and Bird Products , 12.2% of all U.S. households own one (or more) type ofpet other than dogs and cats, up from 10.8% five years ago.

Now at $2.8 million, the retail market for fish, small mammal,reptile/amphibian, and bird products posted sales increases across categoriesin 2020, resulting in a 18.5% sales increase that exceeded even theunprecedented 15.8% growth experienced by the retail pet products sectoroverall.

Despite the economic set-backs and uncertainties since COVID-19, PackagedFacts survey results from June 2021 show that only 4% of other pet ownersdecreased their pet spending in the previous 12 months, while 33% increasedit. “Product premiumization plays a part in this spending increase,” accordingto report analyst Shannon Brown, “with these other pet owners following thepattern of dog and cat owners in seeking out costlier natural foods and moredesign- and eco-conscious non-food products such as bedding,habitats/enclosures, and toys.”

Why do millions of Americans opt for fish, small animals, reptiles, and birds?Nearly two-thirds of other pet owners (65%) enjoy keeping them because theyare fun to watch and observe, according to Packaged Facts survey data. Overhalf (52%) simply love this type of pet. Other common motivations includethese pet being fun to interact with, adding liveliness to the home, andproviding companionship.

These motivations provide clear context for the pandemic-driven other petacquisition boom. With the stay-at-home, school-from-home dynamics earlier inthe crisis and the ongoing waves of COVID-19 infection, home-centrichouseholds are relying on various types of pets—and often on multiple types ofpets, all as part of the family—for adult and child activities, comfort, andcompanionship. Even when pandemic restrictions ease and online classes becomeoptions, most households will continue to cherish these pets, such thatcontinued market growth is projected in the coming years.

Marketers in the other pets market would do well to position on both functionand “fun” while expanding their product ranges, according to Packaged Facts,and retailers should find success in products that allow people to interactwith various types of pets in safe, enjoyable ways while keeping all creaturesinvolved healthy and happy.

Previous PIJAC Canada changes Show Schedule

Next Is a COVID-19 Vaccine for Pets on Its Way?