That's a wrap.
2017 is over. Can you believe it?
What a year. We won't get into the heavy details of politics and economics, but it's been quite the year. The same can certainly be said for the pet industry, which continues to grow at a staggering pace.
As we launch into 2018, it's a great time to sit back and reflect on the year that has just passed. We've combined a few of the most notable events and trends that stood out to us over the year.
Without further ado, here's our 2017 pet industry year in review! As you read, it's a good time to consider what memories and achievements have stood out to you over the year.
Pet Industry Mergers & Acquisitions
Mergers and acquisitions are not new grounds for the pet industry by any means. With that said, there were a few notable acquisitions this year that seemingly changed the game for pet businesses from every sector.
The primary one to note, of course, is the merger between PetSmart and Chewy in April 2017. It's commonly referred to as the largest e-commerce acquisition in history. This acquisition is so notable because it puts both companies in a position of power that might even allow them to compete with Amazon.
A few of the other top pet industry acquisitions include:
- Olympus Partners and Petmate Holdings Co.
- Central Garden & Pet and K&H Manufacturing
- Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc. and PetMatrix, LLC
- Animal Supply Company and LADs Pet Supplies
- Phillips Pet Food & Supplies and Pet Flow
- Radio Systems Corporation (PetSafe) and Solvit™ Products
- Petco and PupBox
- Manna Pro Products, LLC and Corta-Flx, Inc.
- Pet Supplies Plus and Washington Pet
- Parkers Pet Provisions and Complete Natural Nutrition (now together known as Presido Natural Pet Company)
To dive deeper into these acquisitions and learn what they mean for the pet industry as a whole, read the full round-up of 2017 pet industry mergers & acquisitions here.
Pet Store Bans & Breeder Certifications
As we discussed in a recent article, this bill passed because pet lovers all over the United States are filled with concern and anger toward pet shops who opt to sell live animals from breeders. Animal welfare groups are known to spread the message that these animals are often mistreated, filled with diseases, and living in inhumane conditions.
No one, certainly in this industry, wants to see a pet harmed in any way. With this said, the question isn't whether animals deserve to be mistreated (because the answer is a resounding no). Conversely, the question should be: are pet stores to blame?
Without pets, there would be no pet industry. That's why a new breeder program and certification, Canine Care Certified, has come to fruition this year. They firmly believe that the ability to choose a pet that fits your individual lifestyle is not only good for you and your family but is also in the best interest of the animal.
The certification provides safeguards to ensure breeders are doing the right thing by both animals and consumers. It also works to protect pet choice for consumers to be allowed to choose a pet that best fits their individual lifestyles.
To dive deeper into recent news about pet sale bans and pet industry legislations in general, check out these resources:
- What California's Ban on the Sale of Pets Means for the Pet Industry
- Why Protecting Pet Choice is Important
- Changing the Way We Sell Live Animals in Pet Stores
- 2017 Legislative Year in Review (Mike Bober | Pet Business Magazine)
- New Certification Available for Breeders
Growth of E-Commerce
Before you started reading this article, were you shopping online? Your customers are. Mobility and efficiency are the keys for success when it comes to capturing consumers’ attention in the digital age. That's the key behind the growth of e-commerce.
It's clear to see that online purchases of pet care products are on the rise. However, this is definitely not “new” news, as many publications have been talking about this trend for years. The question isn’t whether shopping online for pet products is growing, but rather how it’s affecting independent pet shops.
Fortunately, there's many ways for independent pet stores to stand out from their online competition. These include:
- Following vendors' established MAP policies
- Adding value outside of competing on price
- Marketing to customers with valuable content
- Improving conversion rate in-store with technology
- Finding creative ways to improve customer experience in-store
- Setting up your own e-commerce shop as a brick & mortar retailer
Even the smallest of pet specialty retailers can learn from the online giants. In fact, a tour of Amazon's book store in Seattle revealed a few interesting tips that can be transferred to nearly any retail model.
With that said, the backbone of the industry is not digital shopping carts, and it certainly won’t be any time soon. As Jen Schurrer, owner of Pet Supply Port, puts it, “small brick and mortar stores are what make our communities strong. We were here first with our love for pets and at least I know I will keep fighting.”
Dive deeper into the growth of e-commerce and how it affects pet specialty retailers moving forward:
- Is E-Commerce a Threat to the Pet Industry?
- 4 Things Brick & Mortar Pet Stores Can Learn from Amazon
Pet Food Trends
Over time, we've seen pet food evolve from being what was essentially human food waste. In recent years, it's become nourishment that is often even healthier than what most Americans eat on a daily basis.
This fact has certainly hold its place this year, as we saw in the top two pet trade shows of the year: SuperZoo and Global Pet Expo. At both shows, we noticed everything from "natural" and "healthy" claims to an emphasis on sustainably-sourced and USA-made pet food.
Other trends we're watching develop include:
- Grain-free and gluten-free pet food developments
- Limited ingredient pet food
- Freeze-dried pet food
- Alternative proteins
- Premium pet food
Additionally, Packaged Facts released a new report on the pet food industry. According to the report, pet food sales topped $26 billion in the United States alone. They predict the following trends will influence the market throughout 2018:
- Home-delivered pet food
- Pet parents seeking foods with preventative benefits
- Micro-targeted and functional pet foods
- DIY pet food
- Alternative proteins
The pet food industry is one that's captivating both our imaginations and our pockets. It will be interesting to watch as it continues to develop.
Dive deeper into the world of pet food throughout 2017 and the trends predicted for 2018 with these resources:
- Beyond the Label: Identifying Key Trends in High Quality Pet Food
- Applaws Answers: Why Limited Ingredient Pet Food?
- 12 Key Trends from Global Pet Expo 2017 (and from SuperZoo 2017)
- Pet Food Trends You'll See in 2018
- The Top 3 Pet Food Stories for 2017 and What They Mean for 2018
- US Pet Retailers Expect Rise in Premium Pet Food Sales
The Industry Comes Together During Difficult Times
This year was a rough year throughout parts of the United States in terms of nature's wrath. In fact, it was so bad that the nation faced the most expensive hurricane season in U.S. history.
When tragedy strikes, communities often come together to help each other anyway they can, and this is no less true for pet industry professionals. There is story after story of how pet lovers came together to assist our furry friends through the terror of each disaster.
We saw Pet Food Experts donate over 40,000 pounds of cat and dog food to Puerto Rico; manufacturers including Barking Buddha Pet Products, Natural Cravings, and Scout & Zoe's work together to collect pet supplies for hurricane relief; Pet Valu donate over $500,000 to areas damaged by Hurrances Harvey, Irma, and Maria; Bentley's Pet Stuff deliver 42,000 of pet food to Texas, and much more.
If anything can be said about the pet industry, it's that we can stick together when things fall apart to support our communities and help others. And what an awesome thing to say!
Staying Motivated by the Pet Industry
There are a million things that happened in 2017, and these are just a few of the most notable that we've seen. However, in between all these updates and market trends and day-to-day business stuff, it can be difficult sometimes to remember why we're all here to begin with.
In all this chaos, it's more important than ever to take a moment to stop and remember why we're in the pet industry in the first place. For many of us, we're here because we want to be.
So, to remind yourself of that, make it a point in 2018 to stay inspired and motivated by the industry we all know and love. To do that, here's a few tips:
- Create a community of like-minded pet professionals
- Don't let yourself be the smartest person in the room
- Get out of the comparison trap
- Reconnect with your passion for pets
- Do it for the animals
To dive deeper into any of these tips, read the full article on how to stay motivated and inspired by the pet industry.
Clearly, there's a lot more to say about 2017, but doing so would take another few thousand words and I highly doubt you'd want to read that much anyway.
Instead, take a moment to reflect on your own year. How did it go? What were three things that stuck out to you the most about the year? What goals did you accomplish? And finally, what goals will you accomplish next year?
Happy New Years!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashley Hoffman is a freelance content marketer in the pet and design industries. Growing up in the pet industry, she has keen insight on market trends and a passion for helping small businesses grow. Her portfolio includes various topics from pet food trends to using technology and marketing strategies to boost pet business sales. When she's not writing articles or working her day job, she's playing with her cat, Chewbacca (Chewie), reading a book, or hiking one of Washington's many trails.
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