The pets as kids revolution

There are more pet parents than ever before! But what is a pet parent? Who are they? What is important to them and how can the pet industry meet their needs?

What is a pet parent?

To illustrate what a pet parent is, it might be interesting to first have a look at what a pet owner is. Pet owners own a pet, they love their pet, but at the end of the day, it is just a pet. 

This as opposed to pet parents. Across the globe, pet ownership is being redefined, as pets are increasingly becoming part of the family and are included in all aspects of day-to-day life. 

A pet parent is a pet owner who sees their pet as an actual person, as a real child. They care like a loving Mom or Dad and give their fur baby the very best. Consumers who are identified as pet parents are likely to spend more, because a pet being part of the family calls for high quality pet care. 

Who are these pet parents?

Pet parents were born between 1980 and 2000 and grew up during the digital revolution. Most of them belong to the generation called millennials. A few facts:

  • 25% of the world population are millennials
  • millennials are now the largest segment of pet owners (APPA)
  • 44% of millennials see their pets as starter children (Gale).

This all means that a ‘pets as kids revolution’ is going on. Why do millennials prefer pets to children? The main reason: pets are less expensive and do not impose as much on their freedom as children.

What is important?

Since pet parents regard their pets as children, they want what is best for them. For example: healthy and delicious food, fresh, organic, natural supplements, limited-ingredient diets, premium and culinary experiences. 

They are willing to spend more in order to meet their pets’ needs. This means quality wins over price. But what is also important to them is sustainability. They want information on the product’s background: What kind of ingredients or materials are used? Where does it come from? Where was the product made and by whom?

What is modern pet ownership?

Besides caring like a loving Mom or Dad, pet parents want to spend much time with their pets. Bonding is super important, and they involve their pets as much as possible in their daily lives. They work part time or partly from home. According to Mintel’s global trends, 45% of American pet owners are bringing their pets to work or would like to do so. 

When the pets are home alone, pet parents can watch and interact with them via a camera, like the Furbo camera, or use services such as dog walkers and pet sitters. In their free time they go to the forest, park, beach, a bar or a restaurant to socialise or have a good time with friends, who are often pet parents too. Sports or yoga? They try to do it together with their pet. 

What are trends among these parents?

Many humanisation trends are seen in accessories. Haute Diggity Dog is a good example. The company designed dog toys like the Chewy Vuitton bone, Starbarks coffee cup and the Kennel One vodka. P.L.A.Y. designed a whole American classic range of snacks dog toys. 

Cool cats have Meowijuana! An organic catnip that is stuffed in joints. These are the things that pet parents like. Besides looking super cute and fun, these products are Instagrammable, which is really important to pet parents, because their fur babies have to keep their social media account up to date. 

There is even an app specially made for pets where they can interact with other pets. It is called Petzbe and is really clear about one thing: no humans allowed.

How can the industry supply pet parents and their pets?

Millennials are the digital generation, so most pet parents shop online. Today Instagram shopping is very popular: buying by clicking on the product tag in the picture. Instagram is all about eye candy and therefore a good medium to promote and sell products. 

Be sure to understand the pet parent’s mind: ‘If my pet is happy, I am happy’. See them as real parents and their pets as real children. And last but not least: connect with them through social media.


Desirée van der Hoeven

Communication & Event Manager
How millennials and pets in cities change the pet industry landscape. Alternative protein development.