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Pet Industry Trends Report: Challenges and Growth Opportunities

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Pet owners place more value on their animal companions than ever before. A study from the Pew Research Center determined that 97 percent of pet owners consider their pets to be members of their family. About half say their pets are just as much a part of their family as a human member.

This deep affection bodes well for the pet industry. Pet owners are ready to do whatever it takes to keep their pets healthy and happy. Understanding how to cater to this audience will allow you to increase sales and revenue and position your pet retail business to take hold of market share.

This post explores relevant pet industry trends in the U.S. market, including challenges and growth opportunities. Read on to learn how to address challenges, approach them as opportunities, and solidify your place in this lucrative market.

An Overview of the Pet Industry

A recent report from Bloomberg Intelligence suggests that the pet industry is expected to grow from $320 billion today to nearly $500 billion by 2030. The growth is attributed to the rising global pet population and the increasing trend of treating pets as family members, leading to higher demand for premium pet food and services.

The analysis predicts that the United States will continue to be the largest market for pets, with sales reaching around $200 billion by the end of the next decade. This growth is fueled by an uptick in spending on pet healthcare, including veterinary services, diagnostics, and pharmaceuticals. As a result, pets are living longer, requiring more expensive care in their old age, and increasing the pet population in the United States.

Pet retailers find themselves at the shoreline of an ocean of possibility. The market is primed for growth. Anticipating challenges and adapting to meet customer demands is central to success in this space. 

Challenges Facing Retailers in the Pet Industry

Although the pet industry is gaining value at a remarkable rate, it’s not without growing pains. Many retailers in this space face daily hindrances to their success in the market. We examine the most common and impactful challenges below.

Increased Delivery Demands

Customer expectations for delivery have increased across virtually every retail market. Amazon’s two-day shipping (along with competitors like Walmart Plus) has set new standards for delivery times that retailers must maintain.

Retailers and sellers in this market must adapt to meet these new expectations. Specific delivery dates, accurate tracking, and –– most importantly –– fast delivery: retailers in the pet industry must keep up to compete.

Competition from Online Retailers

The digitization of the pet retail industry has made engaging shoppers simple. At the same time, the expansion of the digital shelf has made this space more competitive than ever. Retailers must take every opportunity to stand out and drive traffic to their product pages.

Optimizing content for engagement, traffic, and conversions empowers brands to draw in buyers ready to purchase. If retailers want to maintain a competitive advantage in the online and omnichannel space, they must understand that other sellers are vying for the same customers –– and sales.

Replenishment and Inventory Management

Proper inventory management lets retailers know what’s in stock and what needs replenishment, so customers can confidently click the purchase button.

In cases where inventory is not efficiently monitored and accounted for, the customer experience will suffer. Without real-time inventory management, retailers deal with excessive and insufficient ordering, causing inefficiencies in time, warehouse utilization, and financial resources.

Inaccurate Content

Content accuracy and consistency are essential to increase sales and revenue. Inaccuracies lead to customer dissatisfaction and returns, affecting your bottom line. When customers engage with inaccurate content, 87 percent blame the retailer, not the brand, and are unlikely to shop with that retailer in the future.

The onus is on the supplier to provide engaging, informative product content that drives conversions. No one knows a product’s features, benefits, and users better than the manufacturer. If great content doesn’t make it to the live product page, nine out of ten times, it falls on the supplier.

Pet Industry Perfect SKU Report Overview

In 2022, e-commerce pet sales accounted for 36 percent of total sales –– up 16 percent from 2017. This number is expected to grow to 45 percent of total pet product sales by 2026. In today’s noisy e-commerce space, online sellers must go above and beyond minimum content requirements to stand out.

If you want to succeed, the days of “meeting the minimum” are over. The most overlooked opportunity to drive e-commerce sales is likely the easiest: improving the product information on your digital shelf.

The product page provides opportunities to educate the shopper, build your brand, and motivate users to purchase confidently. What would higher conversions and fewer product returns mean to your business?

At Content Status, we firmly believe that the online product page is the epicenter of the shopping experience. When did you last buy something online that wasn’t from a product page? Who is providing a great product page content experience?

Content Status put that question to the test in our Pet Industry Perfect SKU® Report (2023), where we analyzed over 20,000 product pages and assigned a content health score on a scale from 0 (lowest) to 5 (highest). This report provides rankings of key pet industry retailers, categories, and their brands.

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Below are the key understandings for our grading methodology used in collecting this data:

  • Our teams used the same scoring methodology across all sites, ensuring consistency for the data collected.
  • The health score of the content was calculated using all the basic requirements that a supplier has control of, including the title, description, bullets, and images.
  • The scores did not include enhanced content, Video, PDFs, and 360 usages.

Key Insights and Stats

While this report covers many insights, content scoring is critical to any auditing strategy. Calculating the health score of marketing content and copy provides valuable insights into the marketing efforts of brands competing in this space.

Here are the key insights from this year:

  • Product titles averaged 73 characters, but the median length was only 64
  • Descriptions averaged 568 characters, but 14 percent had no description, resulting in a “Needs Improved” rating
  • Products averaged three bullets per listing, but 29 percent had no bullets, resulting in a “Needs Improved” rating
  • Product listings averaged only five images
  • Seventeen percent of listings utilized a video
  • Fourteen percent of listings embedded content below the fold
  • Only one percent of product pages included a PDF
  • One percent of PDPs displayed 360-degree imagery within the product gallery

Scores across all retailers – whether mass merchants, grocery, or specialty pet stores – were consistent. However, the different content elements allowed some retailers to stand out. Overall, brands are not taking full advantage of retailers’ content opportunities.

Our report further explored audit rankings by segments according to assigned health scores, which we break down here:

  • Retailers: The three mass merchants finished in the top four spots, which isn’t a surprise due to their content requirements. Pet specialty and grocery retailers were similar. 
  • Category: At a category level, all performed well below average, which means there are significant opportunities for brands to improve and stand out.
  • Brands: While 18 brands had an average score above 4.0, these were the top five that led the way:
    • BCOATH – 4.5
    • Balacoo – 4.4
    • Costway – 4.4
    • Mipcase – 4.4
    • Purina Pro Plan – 4.3

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Opportunities for Improvement

Product content is the root of retailers’ success or failure in the pet industry. Product pages increase traffic, educate and inform users, build confidence and trust, and ultimately drive shoppers to purchase.

Content is central to success in today’s retail space, regardless of your industry, audience, or product. With so much riding on your content, getting it right is crucial. Our report found two primary opportunities for improvement in pet retailers’ product content: image use and title analysis. We explore these below.

Optimizing Product Page Images

Product imagery communicates what copy cannot. Quality visuals remain critical to conversion. Retailers in this industry can capitalize on PDP images to enhance the shopping experience, set realistic customer expectations, and sell more products. Our report identified several ways to optimize product page images to increase sales:

Increase Image Count

In some categories, moving from one image to two can double conversions. Yet our research found that 35 percent of items tested only had a single image, and the average was just three images. Unfortunately, it’s common for retailers to neglect publishing images altogether due to the rush to get product pages live.  

Avoid Duplicates

Adding a second image can boost conversion from 30 to 50 percent, but not when the images are duplicates.

Highlight the Product in the Main Shot

For consumables, the main image should be the product shot. Shoppers want to know what they’re researching; show them in the principal image.

Include Video on Your PDPs

Video has always been an ideal medium for educating and motivating shoppers. For this report, we found videos on five sites: Amazon, Chewy, PetSmart, Target, and Walmart. It doesn’t mean they don’t allow video, but of the over 24,000 pages audited, we only found video on these sites.

Retailers leveraging video focused heavily on how-to videos and features/benefits versus high-level company branding.

Title Analysis: Length and Accuracy

Next to images, the product title has the most significant influence on your sales. Many brands don’t realize that the title is a principal driver of site traffic via on-site search results.

An optimized title consists of 50 to 80 total characters. This ensures it’s long enough for Google and other engines to crawl but short enough to maintain readability. The product title will incite shoppers to learn more or send them to competing retailers. Getting the title right is essential. But because the bar is low, sellers that address product content optimization –– especially in product titles –– will achieve a competitive advantage that positions them to win in this fast-growing market.

An SEO-optimized product title includes the following components:

  • The brand
  • Product type and defining qualities
  • Item name and model number
  • Pack count, quantity, color, size, etc., if applicable

Titles with more descriptive keywords increase organic ranking, driving more free traffic to your pages.

Enhance Product Pages to Stand Out and Sell More

Optimizing product page content will help you sell more. In an ever-expanding digital shelf overrun with competition, quality, consistent, compelling content is a must. Content Status provides the tools to ensure your content is built to perform.

Our auditing resources allow you to create accurate, consistent product content that meets consumer expectations. Content Status helps you

  • Drive Traffic to Exceptional Product Experiences: Maximize the time and money you invest in page traffic by providing the Perfect SKU® experience.
  • Ensure Brand Consistency Across Retailers: Ensure consistent brand experiences by providing all your retailers with the same accurate, brand-approved content.
  • Reduce Return Rates: Reduce unnecessary returns by showing accurate, error-free product content.
  • Monitor Competitor Content: You can only compete if you know how the competition is merchandising their products. We provide insights on your competitors that inform your content strategies.
  • Maximize Content Opportunities on Every Site: Retailers provide a new item spreadsheet, which provides maximums for each content attribute. We help you maximize your titles, descriptions, feature bullets, images, and spec allotment while using rich content elements.

Enhance the customer experience and boost conversions starting now with Content Status. Connect with our team to learn how our product content optimization and auditing tools can help you sell more today.

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