Americans are choosing dogs over babies—and that’s been good news for pet retailers banking on the ”humanization” of animals.
Petco, which filed to go public on Monday (Aug. 17), said the trend—in which owners view their pets as family and shell out for premium food, supplies, and services—has become particularly evident on social-media sites like Facebook and Instagram, where pet owners want to put forward their pups’ best looks.
“As pet parents increasingly use social media as a means to personify and share their pets with others, we believe pet-focused content in social media will continue to accelerate the humanization trend,” the company said.
The trend is especially pronounced in millennials, who are fueling the $74 billion pet industry and Petco’s $4 billion in sales. In 2014, 59% of millennials owned a pet, up from 50% just four years ago.
Now, Petco plans to further cater to pet parents that want their furry friends to look better in real life and on the web.
“Social media engagement enables us to effectively reach our customers, particularly millennial customers who on average significantly outpace baby boomers in omni-channel shopping habits and pet accessory ‘splurge’ tendencies.”
In addition to spending on things like pet food and medicines, Petco says one of the fastest-growing segments in pet specialty retail is in grooming and other services, which it expects to grow at a compounded annual rate of 6.2% over the next five years.
The company says it’s transformed on-site pet services offerings to “create the feel of an in-store theater,” and that grooming customers now visit its stores 50% more than its average store customer, with close to double the amount spent per year.
If pets really are an extension of ourselves, they also have to look good in selfies, right?