Kit Reaux, GoodFriend
In addition to networking and educational sessions, annual trade shows offer a glimpse into the future of their industries. Thousands of pet industry professionals from across the country gathered at SuperZoo and GroomExpo to stock up on products, catch a glimpse of the newest trends, network with industry peers, and experience the next generation of pet care. This year, GoodFriend, the newest digital platform that connects pet care pros with pet parents, exhibited at both SuperZoo and GroomExpo. These two major shows revealed the following trends which pet professionals can expect to see in 2023.
Pets are family
Pets are more a part of the family than ever before. At over 30%, millennials remain the largest segment of pet owners. With many millennials choosing to have children later in life or not at all, pet owners are putting more time and money into the care of their pets. This theme has and will continue to affect every aspect of the pet industry.
“Across all product categories, the humanization of today's pets was fully evident—from pet food flavors inspired by human cuisine to whimsical toys to various innovations meant to make pets' lives happier, healthier and longer,” explains Publishing Director and Editor and Chief of Pet Product News Jennifer Boncy. “People are going all out for their pets these days, and the growing number of products and services in the marketplace designed to promote the health and well-being of companion animals was abundantly obvious as I made my way around the show floor.”
High-end goes mainstream
Pet parents are requesting more for their four-legged family members and pet care providers and vendors are working to meet those needs. “The newer generation of pet parents are definitely more involved and educated in what products they want used for their pets and their expectations of grooming,” said Maddie Hicks, a groomer from San Juan Capistrano, California who attended SuperZoo for the first time. “Going to expos reignites the passion we have for our profession. It allows us to showcase our skills and talents. You learn so much from being surrounded by like minded people and from all the exhibitors.”
According to a recent report from NeilsonIQ, pet parents read labels closely and seek out products that match their pets’ specific dietary needs and their own values. Both on the show floor and in the market, increased interest in human-grade, organic, and limited ingredient dog foods and treats as well as eco-friendly and specialty grooming products has shown that what was once luxury is rapidly headed to the mainstream.
Groomer Maddie Hicks and Mimosa
Digital solutions for pet parents & pros
The growing digital expectations of Millennials and Gen Z coupled with ongoing staffing shortages have pet professionals looking to optimize and automate their processes wherever possible. While speaking to groomers and salon owners on the show floor, the GoodFriend team found that many providers wanted more functionality from their current management software such as the ability for pet parents to store pet information like vet records, book directly, receive automated appointment reminders, and pay online.
These services benefit both the pet parents and the provider. Paula Mosteller, founder of PetExec explains, “It’s good customer service to have somebody be able to [digitally] book an appointment at their convenience. It's also a drain on the business to have employees stuck answering phone calls and making appointments when that person could be much better utilized on other more important tasks like caring for the animals. You're taking that person's job and making it much harder than it needs to be.”
Similar to the increase of more direct to consumer retail options such as subscription boxes, the desire for more pet care services to be available from home has increased with the pandemic. In addition to fully-fitted grooming vehicles, products offering the ability to groom and train on the go were featured by a number of vendors at both SuperZoo and GroomExpo. These tools offer providers the flexibility to meet their customers at home and avoid the overhead costs of a brick and mortar location.
Mosteller explains, “There's going to be more and more people that are choosing to have pet services at home instead of these brick and mortar buildings. It's similar to what is happening with retail. I'm seeing mobile groomers, but much more because people are still working out of their homes. Mobile trainers, mobile groomers, and other mobile services are going to be a big trend moving forward.”
Looking to 2023
Following SuperZoo and GroomExpo, it's clear that providers across the pet industry are working to fulfill the needs of a new breed of pet parent. One who is willing to invest heavily in the health and wellbeing of their pet, prioritizes high-quality pet products and services as well as convenience.