Phew. We're exhausted - but in a good way!
The first of the two largest pet trade shows in America this year has come and gone, leaving pet professionals all over the globe excited and curious about what's next for the pet industry.
If you were one of the thousands of attendees at the event, you saw first-hand the next big trends in pet food, hard good pet products, and market trends.
Yet, whether you weren't able to navigate the show and see everything there was to offer or you weren't able to make it this year, you might not have gotten a chance to get the full update.
Don't worry - we've got your back! Without further ado, here are our team's key takeaways from Global Pet Expo 2018.
Pet Product Trends for 2018
The New Product Showcase has become one of the prime locations for pet professionals to visit at the show. It's the best spot to see most of the industry's newest products all in one place.
As usual, there were plenty of new and exciting products displayed in this section and across the show floor. However, the most notable trends we spotted include: broths, freeze-dried products, CBD, liquid supplements, live pets, and Instagram-able pet toys.
The word is out: pets are getting tired of plain 'ole kibble and pet owners are eager to spice things up. We all know the many benefits that come with adding more liquid to pets' diets, and the best way to do so is with broths and strews.
Enter pet product manufacturers. There was no short supply of new broths and stews, with many previously-known raw and premium kibble brands getting into the market.
Freeze-dried treats. Freeze-dried meal toppers. Freeze-dried pet food. Freeze-dried litter. Freeze-dried dog toys.
...Okay, maybe not the last two so much. But you get the point.
CBD Pet Products
You may recognize these three letters: they've been making headlines lately in both the pet and human world. Known for its extraordinary medicinal properties, CBD is growing in popularity.
In the New Product Showcase, we saw so many CBD pet products that even larger and more well-known brands are exploring the world of CBD treats.
Yet, this up-and-coming trend doesn't come without its controversies. We found that many store owners are still nervous to bring this category of products into their shop because of misconceptions surrounding this natural remedy.
The best solution is to continue to educate the public on the benefits of CBD, what it actually is (it's not the same thing as the marijuana we're all familiar with), and how it helps both pets and humans alike.
Health consciousness is on the rise. As is often the case, human-food trends are being translated to pet food trends, and this time it's benefiting the waistlines of both two-legged and four-legged living beings.
In fact, more than just the waistlines are being affected by the rise in popularity surrounding liquid supplements. As demand for products with added health benefits continues to rise, pet product manufacturers are more than happy to create them.
This was proven to be true at the New Product Showcase, where we saw broths and stews promoting added benefits, goats milk, solutions to things like joint pain, and even a dog water with added electrolytes (think Gatorade for your pup!).
With the popularity of e-commerce on the rise, independent pet stores are understandably nervous about the future of their shops and the pet industry as a whole. Yet, even with the looming threat, there's one thing an online store can never take away from the pet industry: pets.
Perhaps this concept is finally taking ground in the pet industry, or the coinciding "National Puppy Day" had an effect, but we noticed a lot more than the usual two-legged attendees at the show.
In fact, multiple booths around the show hosted everything from cats and dogs to chickens and ferrets. Many booths also offered pets for adoption. And why not? They're a good reminder of why we're here in the first place!
Instagram-able Pet Toys
If Starbucks can make drinks Instagram-able, then why can't pet toy manufacturers? As social media use grows, the pet industry seems to be catching on to the secret of being featured on pet owners' profiles: making their products stand out.
In this case, we saw trendy pet toys everywhere we look. In fact, we were tempted to snap a photo for our own personal Instagram accounts, they were so well designed!
One particular trend we noticed is popular food items. Things like pizza, donuts, ice cream, coffee, tacos, and even sushi are being turned into pet toys. Heck, if the pets can't eat them, they should at least be able to play with them, right?
Pet Industry Market Trends
Pets as a Lifestyle
In your time of being a pet professional, you may have heard the term "humanization of pets". It's true, pets are no longer dogs being locked out in their outdoor dog houses overnight or cats being "hired" to take care of pests.
The humanization of pets has grown to the point where it's no longer a topic - it's a fact. Pets are a part of our everyday lives, and pet owners are proving that with their wallets.
In the seminar "Channel Trends and the Online Onslaught" by David Sprinkle of Packaged Facts, we found out that most consumers consider their dog or cat to be a part of the family. They're also increasingly more willing to pay more for pet food products that are healthier for their pets and purchase products that will pamper their cat or dog.
What this means for the pet industry is...well, we're not going anywhere any time soon. As long as pets are a part of the family, pet shops and pet product manufacturers are as essential as the manufacturers of baby food and kids' clothing.
Online Market Share Projections
Currently, online market share of pet products is at 12.5% market share. It's projected to jump to 20% by 2022 (Channel Trends Seminar, Sprinkle).
What is pushing this growth in online shopping? Well, there are many factors, but much of it boils down to an increase in online shoppers (Millennials and Generation Z), the convenience of home delivery, the strength of e-commerce giants such as Chewy.com and Amazon, and the benefits of brick & mortar retailers who take up an omnichannel strategy.
One way to fight back is to slowly adapt to an omnichannel strategy for yourself by introducing features such as delivery, digital and online capabilities, and in-store pick-up.
What did you take away from this year's Global Pet Expo?
These are just a few things our team took away from the show. Did you notice similar trends or anything else you found interesting at the show? Comment below to let us know.