Pet ownership is undoubtedly one of the greatest pleasures in life so it should come as no surprise that the money spent on pets has been consistently on the rise for several years. The UK pet product and services market was estimated to be worth around £850 million in 2016 (AMA Research) and is set to continue to boom. Focusing on the important role pets have to play as a source of companionship and joy cannot be underestimated as Pawexpo, the new trade show launching this September (15th – 17th September, NEC Birmingham), will reveal.
A pet loving nation
The most recent PDSA Pet Wellbeing Report in 2019 revealed that 9.9 million adults in the UK own dogs whilst 10.9 million adults’ own cats and 900,000 of the population own rabbits. It’s not just furry friends that we love – according to the PFMA’s 2019 report, the UK is also the proud guardians of 500,000 indoor birds, 500,000 domestic fowl, 300,000 tortoises and turtles, 300,000 lizards and 200,000 snakes. There also are 2.7 million indoor fish tanks in the country (6% households) and 1.3 million outdoor ponds making the pet retail sector a high profit opportunity.
The world of pet parenting is changing with animals now seen as members of the family and we treat them as such. Pet humanisation has become a huge trend with many consumers prepared to spend more on pet food and other pet-related products. Mintel revealed that 30% of millennial pet care owners (aged 19-38 years) like their pet to keep up with the latest trends through gifting and grooming and, in return, they experience profound psychological benefits of owning a domestic animal.
Pets make people smile – that’s a proven fact with 95% of dog owners, 93% of cat owners and 91% of rabbit owners revealing that their pet makes them happy (PDSA). Man/woman’s best friend can help us to live mentally healthier lives and improve moods. With domestic animals evolving to become attuned to their owners’ behaviours and emotions, pets can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as ease loneliness. Scientists have proven that dogs can help lessen the symptoms of depression with oxytocin being released as you cuddle your canine, the same hormone triggered when a mother bonds with her newborn child. Dogs especially are great at encouraging owners to get exercise by taking them for a walk, releasing endorphins, the body’s very own natural antidepressant.
Pet owners also lavish their pets with gifts as they would with friends and family, which makes them feel good. Mintel research revealed that Brits spend on average £1,150 a year or £95 a month on their pets on special occasions such as Christmas and their birthdays. With 66% of owners admitting to buying gifts for their pet (OnePoll), luxury dog beds, premium leather collars and leads, personalised coats and artisan treats have become the norm. Pet technology such as pet cameras or trackers allow those on the go to interact with their animals and help combat common issues like separation anxiety for both the pet and its owner.
Valentine’s Day has become popular with one in five adults buying a gift for a pet, equating to £27 million, according to a survey by American Express. A survey by the Kennel Club has found almost one in five also would rather have a dog than be in a relationship with unfailing loyalty cited as the main reason.
Owning a pet also helps to combat loneliness, especially to those in later life, by offering companionship, a sense of security and someone to share the day with. Daily dog walks can often lead to friendships and conversations with other dog owners, helping to stay socially connected and less withdrawn from the outside world. 81% of cat owners also revealed that their cat makes them feel less lonely with the act of caring and for a pet giving purpose and reward, and a sense of achievement.
Regular walks help dog owners meet the levels of exercise recommended by public health guidelines according to the NHS. Benefits of such consistent exercise include improved cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, stronger muscles and bones, as well as decreased stress levels. PDSA research revealed that 50% of owners walk their dogs more than once a day, whilst 32% walk their dogs once a day. It’s not just the owners that benefit, but the dogs too by controlling obesity, joint health, regulating their digestive tracts, as well providing excellent mental stimulation.
A pet’s health has become as increasingly important as their parents with 9.1 million dogs (92%) registered with a vet, with 75% of owners attending regular health checks to ensure their pet is healthy (PDSA). Pet supplements – such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, meal supplements and other similar products - is also a booming sector, with a recent TechNavio market research report stating that the UK market is currently valued at £100 million as owners become increasingly concerned about the health and comfort of their pets.
Pet health has also driven the UK pet food market to an all-time high, growing from £67 billion in 2018, to an approximate £102 billon by 2024 (Euromonitor). Many pet owners are now seeking food for their companions that reflects their own taste and lifestyle. As a result, there has been an increase in premium and nutritional products - with ‘natural’, ‘raw’ and ‘organic’ food on the rise as an animal’s health becomes as important as ours.
For owners with physical health problems, pets can become unofficial support animals for those in need. As well as offering comfort and emotional support, pets can be used to help treatment with ailments and medical conditions, due to dogs’ sense of smell being around 10,000 times more acute than ours. Guide Dogs for the Blind offers support for 360,000 people who are registered blind or partially sighted, and the two million people in the UK living with sight loss. Pets as Therapy offer community-based Animal Assisted Therapy across the UK which sees people take their pets into hospitals and nursing homes to provide patients with some of the joy and health benefits pets can bring. Hearing Dogs for the Deaf has almost 1,000 working hearing dog partnerships across the UK alerting their owners to sound and giving them new-found independence, whilst Medical Detection Dogs is a revolutionary organisation that trains dogs to help people with life-threatening medical conditions such as diabetes and epilepsy.
Research has shown that young children who have exposure by living with a pet in their early years, reduces the chances of having pet allergies in childhood and later in life, as well as lowering the risk of asthma. A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that newborn babies who live with cats have a lower risk of childhood asthma, pneumonia and bronchiolitis.
Children with ADHD can benefit from owning pets with the animal acting as a calming influence and provides responsibility with a feeding and bathing schedule. Other positives include burning off hyperactivity and excess energy outside by running around after a pet, making them relaxed later in the day, whilst stress and anxiety can be reduced by being in close vicinity of a family pet. A pet also teaches children the important of responsibility, and even mortality, life skills that they can develop and take into their more formative years in a confident and controlled manner.
For a child with autism, the world can seem a scary and complex place and can lead to sensory overload. Research from the University of Lincoln found that children with autism we calmer if they owned a pet, with their parents’ stress levels also significantly lowered. Owning an animal can also make a huge difference to a child’s confidence levels, help reduce their anxiety, improve communication and help families lead a better quality of life together.
Matthew Mein, Event Director said: “Pawexpo is a new event which puts health and wellbeing at the heart of the show. People are increasingly viewing their companion animals as valued members of their families and it appears that more and more are now turning to pets because of the positive effect and contribution they can have on our lives. The trade show will bring together the very best in pet educators, suppliers and retailers to create the ultimate showcase, focussing on building year-round profits for buyers within the pet care categories. Visitors will learn first-hand the trends that will directly affect consumer spending habits and the value of the ‘pet pound’, as well as being able to view the development of new ranges and take home top tips and advice to implement immediately in their own store. It is the show that the industry needs to keep the sector on track and at the forefront of pet innovation.”
Find out more
To find out more about Pawexpo please visit www.gleebirmingham.com/pet-and-animal-wellbeing-expo-pawexpo-2020, where the latest news from the show can also be found. To enquire about exhibiting at Pawexpo 2020 call +44 (0)203 3545 9752.