Pandemic surge, CBD growth help boost pet supplement category

Getty Images dog and owner coronavirus covid-19 pandemic supplements
Pet supplement sales reach $800 million in 2020, up 21% year over year.

Fueled by heightened consumer interest inspired by COVID-19—especially in products targeting immunity, anxiety and overall wellness—pet supplement sales skyrocketed by 21% in 2020 to reach nearly $800 million, according to Packaged Facts in its market research report Pet Supplements in the U.S., 8th Edition. The increase follows several years of growth in the 3% to 5% range.

“Sales increases in 2020 were also partially a result of the flood into the market of CBD supplements, with scores of companies offering pet products featuring the hemp derivative and droves of consumers seeking out the natural remedies to address issues including anxiety, pain management, and inflammation for both themselves and their pets,” said the Packaged Facts report. “During the 2015-2020 period, the pet supplements market saw a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7%, bumped upward significantly from periods of the past decade due primarily to the pandemic-related surge in 2020.”

Beyond the COVID-19 buying surge and the growth of CBD, Packaged Facts also pointed to other trends that will drive growth in the pet supplements market in 2021 and beyond:

• Supplements for senior pets: Joint health supplements are already at the top of the list when it comes to consumer purchase patterns, but hip and joint supplements are only part of the senior pet health picture. With pets living longer due to advances in veterinary care and pet owner interest in pet wellness and nutrition at an all-time high, growing numbers of aging dogs and cats are in need of immune response, heart and cognitive support products, in addition to anti-inflammatory and pain management assistance.

According to Packaged Facts' 2020 Survey of Pet Owners, 47% of dog owners have a dog age 7 or older, up from 43% in our 2019 survey, while 43% of cat owners have a cat in that age bracket, up from 39%, clearly illustrating the expansion of this pet demographic. By targeting the senior population with customized products, marketers can leverage already-existing products into a growing pet population segment, with senior-specific products including multifunctional supplements representing another promising route to market growth.

• Omnichannel marketing opportunities: Pet owners' own internet research is at the top of the list of ways pet owners choose which pet supplements to purchase, cited by 41% of pet owners in Packaged Facts' 2020 Survey of Pet Owners. This comes as no surprise given the pandemic-driven e-commerce boom across all pet categories, with skyrocketing online sales of most types of pet products putting even more pressure on brick-and-mortar retailers, and with pet supplements among the types of products especially well-suited for fast, low-cost or free shipping due to their small size and need for regular replenishment.

During 2020, the e-commerce channel surged to account for 30% of pet supplement sales, more than double the 14% level of 2018. At the same time, many pet owners still demand and enjoy the experience of in-store shopping and interaction with store employees, in some cases valuing it even more as a result of pandemic-dictated deprivation. Marketers and retailers of pet supplements should therefore embrace even more fervently omnichannel and omnimarket strategies to ensure their products are fully represented and readily available wherever and whenever pet owners expect to find them.

• Transparency marketing natural, organic and holistic supplements: Unlike the pet food category, where natural products are at or near the point of market saturation, pet supplements harbor much room for natural product growth. Packaged Facts' 2020 Survey of Pet Owners shows that 77% of pet supplement purchasers seek out supplements with natural ingredients, and 68% seek out organic supplements.

More than ever, marketers must cater to pet owners who scrutinize ingredient lists and seek out products that provide the same level of transparency they look for in their own healthcare products. CBD supplement marketers in particular are taking pains to share in great detail where their ingredients come from. This level of transparency is raising the bar for other supplement makers and creating an environment in which pet owners are increasingly expecting to have access to in-depth information.

supermarket news logoThis piece originally appeared on Supermarket News, a New Hope Network sister website. Visit the site for more grocery trends and insights.

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