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Pet Industry Grows Despite Economic Doubt
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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With all the doom and gloom taking over business headlines, with people worrying if retailers will hit their numbers for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, and most importantly, with the government facing the infamous "fiscal cliff," where can American consumers and business advocates look for comfort?

Apparently, their pets.

Yes, as we watch mayhem unfold among us humans, our consumption connection with our animal companions is stronger than ever. According to a research report done by Mintel, the pet industry in 2012 is worth about $49 billion, which is up 15% since 2007. Since 2004, the pet market has been steadily growing. Though growth slowed down during the height of the market crash, it was still one of the few industries seeing positive numbers. It makes sense. Zoom Room, a dog training center, quotes that there are 380 million pets here in the U.S., outnumbering the human population. With that fact, it is also no wonder that the pet industry has quietly become the seventh-largest retail industry in the U.S., beating toys, jewelry, and even candy.

Why all the growth?

We think it harkens back to a concept we recently wrote on. Pets in the U.S. are commonly looked at as part of the family. Many people have grown up with pets, having several throughout their lives. When things are tough, and when feelings are down, people are likely going to look to their pets for the unconditional love the animals are known for. In short, good "comfort marketing" activities may be a factor in the fast-paced growth of the pet industry. 

Yes, seven out of ten owners believe that their dog understands them better than other humans.

We peered through several research reports and could not find a number about the amount of advertising in the pet industry (most focused solely on consumer spending) but that is something we definitely want to know. If consumer spending amounts to nearly $50 billion, the advertising arm in it must be doing well. For example, Rachel Ray's Nutrish dog food campaign was highlighted recently due to her use of a food truck to get pet owners to try the brand's goods. We have mentioned other campaigns in the pet industry that use sounds only animals can hear to get their attention, therefore moving the potential human customer to consider the brand.

As fast as the pet industry seems to be growing, the ad folks there should be having a good time.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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