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Generational Shifts and Behavioral Patterns Among The US Pet Owners

Digital Marketing
June 8, 2023
20 min

How do you know who is most likely to buy this or that pet care product or service from you? It is, therefore, vital to dive deep into psychographics of pet owners.

Exploring who makes most of your demand side will help you optimize budgets while selling through multiple marketing channels. 

Who Is Your Target Pet Care Customer   

According to the APPA Generational Report (2022), Millennials and Gen Zs will shape pet ownership trends across pet owner populations over the coming decade.

Shifts in US Pet Ownership Demographics
Shifts in US Pet Ownership Demographics (Common Thread Collective, 2023)

The psychology of marketing is mainly about shifting mindsets and spending trends among generations. There is much more on today’s pet care agenda than merely asking how many people own a pet! Pet owner consumer behavior is a serious factor that requires in-depth analysis to build up your ideal customer portrait.

Generational shifts determine behavioral patterns among pet owners and present crucial changes on the demand side. More to that, there are distinctions in the ways different generations of pet owners care about their pets.

Based on demographic research data, we have outlined Millennials as a prevailing population of pet care consumers in the United States. This demographic population makes the most of the pet industry revenue. We, therefore, recommend targeting Millennial pet owners as your core audience across multiple marketing channels.    

US Share of pet Owners
Common Thread Collective, 2023

Millennial Profile

  • An estimated 57 m. pet owners aged 18-42 make up the majority of the US pet market consumers
  • Millennials are exceptionally friendly pet owners.
  • Millennials are most concerned about the health of their pets and much depend on professional vet advice.
  • Millennials are making most online purchases, and still are avid clients of in-store pet retailers.
  • Millennial pet owners hold educational degrees, work, earn money, and manage their households. 
  • Millennials constitute 35% of the US workforce, and the number will grow owing to immigration.
  • Millennials with a household income over $75,000 are ready to spend up to $1500 on pet care needs annually.
  • Millennials make more than half of their purchases online.
  • 30% of Millennials prefer ‘buy now, pay later’ services

While pet owners statistics indicate that Millennials are shaping current trends, Gen Zs are following suit and will turn into major pet care trendsetters in the foreseeable future. As you can see, there is much more to the US pet ownership market than formal stats and numbers.

Psychographic Profile of Millennial Pet Owners 

The cohort of Millennials aged 26-35 presents young professionals who spend a fair share of their disposable income on pet care products and services. Digging deeper into the psychographics of these pet owners is of vital importance to boost your marketing effort.

While waiting for their own children, they treat pets as proper substitutes. In the most dedicated way, Millennials treat pets as their ‘meaningful companions’ while devotion is deep set in their hearts.

The most recent research by Newsweek indicates that young adults refuse to become parents due to the high cost of living. Not sure of whether to start their own families, they get attached to pets instead. In particular, GenZs and Millennials claimed that they would have children if their financial condition was better. 

US pet ownership statistics indicate that 91% of Millennials regard parenting a pet as an essential part of their daily routines. They care about pets the same way they (would) care about their children.

Unsurprisingly, Millennials are the major representatives of ‘pet parenting’ that has made a booming trend across the United States over the last decade. 

Millennials Are Acknowledged Pet Parents in the United States
Millennials Are Acknowledged Pet Parents in the United States

A sense of companionship here is interwoven with cost-effectiveness, while living with a pet is far less expensive than having one’s own family, let alone children. 

Ever-growing shifts on the Millennial demand side have led to evening pet needs with the needs of their owners. This means that anything from pet-conscious products to high-end offers is your strategic assortment extension to make more sales. This is also an answer to the vital question high on digital marketing agenda of how to advertise to Millenial pet owners.

After all, the impulses and sentiments shared by Millennials most benefit their “pet children” as the major beneficiaries of high-end products. 

Reaching Millennials is foremost about quality. By treating their pets as children, Millennials are ready to spend on high-end products and services.

US Pet Products by Sales
US Pet Product Categories by Sales (Common Thread Collective, 2023)

An annual income of a Millennial household makes up about $85,000. A daily budget of a Millennial customer reaches 210 USD. There is no other generation that spends more in the United States. Their major daily expenditure item is housing, which totals an estimated 35 USD. 

Over 80% of Millennials say they would rather spend on experiences than physical kinds of stuff. In both bricks-and-clicks modes, they take pet care shopping as an entertaining experience rather than a necessity. 

With enormous spending power and extra money on pet care, Millennials feature unprecedented pet care dynamics. They compare their devotion to pets as if they were their children. The overwhelming majority would buy their pet a luxury rather than for themselves. 

By viewing pets as family members, Millennials are preparing to start their own families. With an overall tendency for later marriages, Millennials are not bound by family expenses and are more likely to purchase impulsively. By pampering themselves with abundant pieces of stuff, they are excessively pampering their furry friends.

The supplementary trend that impacts the rise in pet ownership among Millennials is booming urbanization that has led to mass re-settlements into smaller-sized flats and apartments. Therein, they pursue close-knit relationships in tiny living spaces. Over time, unconventional lifestyles led by younger cohorts of Millenials have shifted the demand for pet food and pet care services.

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Getting in Touch with Millennials

As the pet care business owner, you will best resonate with the immediate interests and needs of Millennial pet owners through face-to-face encounters and social media interactions. 

Millennials are willing to share their pet care experiences
Millennials Readily Share Their Pet Care Experiences

Always on the go and connected, Millennials are willing to share their pet care experiences with other pet owners and engage with pet care brands. 

What connections are trending among Millenials:

  • Communicating with pet care professionals 
  • Sharing pet photos on social  media platforms
  • Sharing pet care experiences with other owners
  • Managing individual social accounts under a pet’s name 
  • Engaging with pet-related content

Millennials happily join social online ‘petworks’ like Yummypets to create pet profiles, get in touch with other pet owners, and benefit from a vast array of shared data like professional advice and important local connections with other pet owners and infrastructural facilities like medical care and insurance services. 

Another strategic area to consider is personalized content, you should push consistently to recognize the efforts by Millennial pet owners to their fur friends. Be sure to emphasize their pet’s qualities. 

While authenticity and engagement are vital to Millennials, this audience best resonates with social media networking. According to Forbes, 65% of Millennials engage with pet care brands that are active across social media platforms. They also entrust their purchasing choices to influencers across the blogosphere.

With that, Millennials are far more likely to browse through social media platforms and personal blogs rather than visit corporate sites which they associate with direct sales.

Mobile and on the go, Millennials are loyal to instantly available marketing channels able to meet their immediate needs here and now. In particular, they cherish mobile apps for comfort and instant solutions 24/7.

Major Takeaway: If you are to launch your branded pet care blog, be sure to come up with personal pet care stories, friendly tips, and professional pet care advice. Just like in ‘bricks’ retail mode, Millennials expect emotional touch through friendly chats and all-time online support from you. 

Unlike traditional marketing approaches, ‘millennial-focused marketing’ in pet care assumes in-person communication. Millennials want you to hear them and resonate with their pet care suggestions. More to that, they want to receive actual data and updates from you to feel part of the pet care agenda and what’s trending. 

While engaging Millenials, make sure to suggest how to improve their pet care routines. Tell them that their pet care experiences are unique and how they can help other pet owners. 

Through active messaging with Millennials across your marketing channels, you’ll gradually inspire them to take action. 

Loyalty is another crucial factor underway. While seeking out “the sell,” Millennials primarily expect add-ons from you: bonuses, seasonal discounts, occasional pet presents, and other kinds of pet stuff you may offer.

A strategic focus on content creation will save you from reducing your online brand presence to direct sales of pet care stuff. 

Making connections with your potential customers is about responding to the major wants and needs they share. With that, let them take their best-fit decisions themselves!

Major Takeaway: Do not sell or advertise to Millenials directly. They cherish deeper engagement on your end. 

Human Touch 

An essential constituent of emotional intelligence (EI), empathy is your strategic ace in the hole. Bet on emotional connectedness with Millennial consumers to drive both rational and spontaneous sales. 

By fairly playing with emotions, be sure to generate value beyond pure sales. While retailing, make your shop assistants and online consultants know how to communicate essential needs shared by Millennial pet owners. Sales are often about getting a human touch through a warming face-to-face chat than selling an actual product. 

While cross-selling and upselling methods entail convincing consumers to buy more from you, simply asking Millennial pet shoppers about their pets will work wonders. 

Major Takeaway: Unlike most GenZs or Baby Boomers, Millennials are far more likely to buy from you beyond their initial intent. As a pet shop owner, rely on human touch to suggest more items to your consumers. While Millennials are open to purchasing more of the same item or paying for more expensive options, reap the fruit from cross-selling and upselling approaches. 

Pet Owner Consumer Behavior

Over the last decade, pet humanization has contributed to the quality of pet care. Customization of individual pet care services is now far beyond treating pets with best-fit shampoos or designer hairdos. 

Pet parents present the major category of pet owners keen on developing mutually loving relationships with their pets. More and more Millennial pet owners are pleasing their furry friends with presents and accessories or throwing birthday parties for their pets. Even more, the overwhelming majority of Millennials in the United States are dining with their pets.

Pet Ownership Trends

Pet Care Sentiments Shared by Millenials
Pet Care Sentiments Shared by Millenials (YPULSE, 2020)

Pet parenting is about pursuing close emotional bonds between owners and pets. Beyond the pet’s satisfaction, the booming trend is in an owner’s enjoyment of their pet experiences. Part of positive psychology, the achievement of mutual joy explains why Millennials are striving for top expertise in pet care products and services. 

Furthermore, Millennials take pet parenting as a self-care experience. Many pet care brands played on this sentiment during the pandemic when Millennials lacked moments of joy.

Today, pet pampering is hyping among the Millennials. The shared experience is virtually what makes pet owners happy. In the Covid-19 aftermath, they are ready to spend more on pet care products and services for the joy of spending more time with their furry companions. 

In response, the market outlined the top spending categories among the Millennials.

Google Trends Pet Products

Most Popular Pet Care Purchases by Millennials
Most Popular Pet Care Purchases by Millennials (YPULSE, 2020)

Beyond their focus on quality pet care products and services, Millennials tend to voice their concerns over pet health. Following the pandemic period, almost half of pet owners in the United States have paid closer attention to the health and wellness of their pets.

Among major concerns reported by the new generation of pet parents (Gen Zs and Millennials) are: 

  • Sensitive digestion
  • Obesity 
  • Aging needs
  • Anxiety issues
  • Stress
  • Food allergies 
Major Takeaway: Millennials readily spend beyond regular pet care items. Among your sales priorities, bet on pet toys, special food treats, and grooming items as essential add-ons to your regular assortment. 

Pet Spending Trends

By adorning their furry friends as family members, Millennials care about their pets more than ever. This largest living generation in the United States topped pet adoption rates during COVID-19.

While Millennials prefer quality over price, as a pet care business, you’ll open a world of opportunity in diversifying your offer with: 

  • Natural products 
  • Organic products
  • Hypoallergenic products
  • Grain-free products
  • BPA-free products 
  • Freeze-dried foods
  • Raw foods

The same is true about the most popular services in the pet care niche:

  • Vet visits 
  • Kennel boarding
  • Daycare
  • Pet sitting 
  • Pet walking

Millennials are major consumers of pet grooming services. Beyond overcaring about pet health, Millennials are prone to purchase luxurious items, pet toys, hypoallergenic cleaning products, and natural and organic foods. Millennials are also hyper-sensitive to the individual needs of their pets. 

Major Takeaway: Your primary task here is to share a genuine concern about a pet's well-being with an owner. Essentially, human touch is what Millennial consumers value most.  

Pet Care Companionships


Immediate companionship intensified during the quarantine period of social distancing when people and animals were bound to spend more time at home together. 

By treating pets as their children, Millennials prioritize quality care for their pets. Even though considered a budget-minded generation, Millennials prefer the highest quality pet food and would rather buy something for their pet once they have a chance. Regular purchases of presents are also trending among Millennials.

Americans spent about 1.7 b. on pet gifts on this year’s Valentine's Day alone. 

Major Takeaway: Besides regular sales, inspire spontaneous buying decisions by making emotional bonds with Millennials. Build your upselling tactics on emotional sentiments that induce Millennials to buy presents for their pets.    

Unlike Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who prefer products that make pet ownership easier for seniors, Millennials and Gen Zs are seeking pet care products and services online. While Gen Zs rely on YouTube as a major source of pet care information, Millennials use Facebook.

Overall, Millennials prefer: 

  • Ethically sourced
  • Eco-friendly
  • BPA-free
  • Branded
  • US-made pet products.

Projected Growth in the US Pet Market Demand
Projected Growth in the US Pet Market Demand (Common Thread Collective, 2023)

Along with Gen Zs (a growing generation of pet parents), Millennials are consistently upping their pet care e-spending on pet food, treats, and subscription-based offers. 

  • More than 80% of Millennials are likely to buy a new product at first glance. This fact alone indicates an overwhelming tendency toward spontaneous and impulsive spending. 
  • 70% occasionally regret what they have bought. 
  • Still, 90% are exploring the items online before buying. 
  • A staggering majority of 96% of Millennial shoppers claim that they are satisfied with the things they buy. 

Purchasing behaviors of Millennials are most influenced by word-of-mouth. They rely on online customer reviews, follow online ads, and appreciate influencer and celebrity endorsements. Millennials are also avid Instagram followers. This is why online content and blogging make a huge impact on individual buying decisions. 

An overwhelming majority of younger Millennials prefer to shop online rather than in-store. E-shopping provides them with the convenience of product and price comparisons, which explains why 80% of Millennials never buy anything without reviewing it first. And even when an item is in-store, more than half of Millennials will still look for the details online. 

While some 30% of Millennials claim that they plan their budget ahead, the majority tend to overspend. Given the purchasing potential of Millennials and part of hedonic consumerism, they are afraid of missing out on something, especially when the item is new or trending.

So, you can also earn here by cross-selling to Millennial pet owners  

Millennial Pet Owners Are Shopping Online

eCommerce stats indicate that Millennials make up above 30% of the digital shopping population across the United States. 

Our expert says: Most importantly, e-shopping culture is innate to Millennials while they have grown up in a digital reality. As the largest pet-owning population, this demographic group is tech-savvy and brand-choosy. Millennials pursue bargains and prefer online shopping for convenience, immediate solutions, and gratification. Anna Sytnyk, Case Study Expert at Promodo.

Even though pet care products are not among the top e-shopping preferences shared by Millennials, this population features the highest purchasing power of an estimated $2.5-3.1 trillion. 

Major online spending trends on fashion items and beauty products prove that Millennials are most concerned about personal care. This resonates with the booming trend for pet parenting which shows that Millennials are willing to care about their pets to the same extent they care about themselves. 

Your Best Pet Care Marketing Solution Is One Click Away
Reach Millennial Pet Parents With Promodo Experts!

Written by
Taras Bereza

Content Marketing Manager at Promodo

Taras has 16 years of hands-on copywriting experience overseas with 3000+ unique copies.

Accredited with Certificate of Proficiency in English (C2 level) by Cambridge University. Studied at Writing Launch Academy (United States) and owns an Academic Writing Certificate from Oregon University. Author of 12 dictionaries with Apriori Publishers.

Written by
Hanna Sytnyk

Marketing Specialist at Promodo

I have been working in marketing since 2012 with an emphasis on market research and analytics. I am experienced in the following niches: food wholesale, insurance, real estate, and software distribution. I have been responsible for Promodo's cases since 2021. Doing marketing research, I focus on causes and effects, as well as measurable results.

June 8, 2023
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