You may be surprised to learn that the market for pet products represented $72.56 billion in 2018, in the U.S. alone. When the final numbers come out for 2019, it is expected to be even higher. Though growth is forecasted to continue, when considering the question, how big is the market for pet products—the answer may be complicated by this marketplace’s uncertainty due to rapid fluctuations among consumers. For industry players, keeping a close eye on trends is crucial, and teaming with a market research company may hold the key to making the right decisions.

Here is a glimpse into what the future market may hold for pet products in the U.S., and how current consumer needs are driving this lucrative industry:

Online stores are consumers’ first choice for shopping. Just how big is the market for pet products? According to a 2018 survey from Packaged Facts, 14% of consumers made a pet product purchase within the last week. An impressive 37% of online pet shoppers shared that they buy more for their pets now than in the past. Why is this the case? Well, several factors play into the equation. Chief among them is the large selection of pet products now available through various websites. This offers convenience and in the case of Amazon Prime shoppers, free shipping. When time is money even for casual consumers, spending little to no time online ordering pet products, not having to leave their house to receive their purchases, and no shipping costs, it’s an easy choice. This is especially true when you compare this type of shopping experience to leaving the house to drive to the store, enduring traffic and the hunt for a parking space, and standing in line, not to mention having to pay for gasoline, it’s an easy choice. Even big-box pet stores such as Petco and PetSmart now offer online shopping (with in-store pickup) services. Tech products and smart devices are marketed to meet the needs of pets and their owners. Advances in technology include pet products. The Internet of Things has broadened to smart devices that focus on pet care. This emerging market is expanding to meet pet owners’ desires to provide a higher level of care for their animal families. Using these devices, owners can track their pet’s location, monitor their physical activity, and even analyze health metric data. Video cameras and food dispensing machines allow the owners to verbally and visually interact with their animals when they are not at home. Some market trend analysts expect that veterinary care will increasingly rely on remote access video technology, just as is occurring among the human population with their healthcare providers.

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