Pet ownership has vastly risen in urban India in recent years. With an estimated pet population of 28-29 million – dogs forming an overwhelming majority of pets – India has been home to one of the nascent but fastest-growing petcare markets. This has also been so on account of the global negative perception regarding Chinese products in general, and pet products in particular. The last decade has especially seen the reputation of Chinese goods dip further on account of a string of perceived factors such as poor management and quality control, scientific misconduct, and absence of an open atmosphere needed to create innovation among others. Thus, despite being low-priced, Chinese pet goods have progressively declined in popularity while Indian pet goods – thanks to their vastly better quality – have steadily gained the trust of consumers the world over.
Speaking of pet goods, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown saw a further rise in pet ownership as more people were forced to stay indoors and seek the company of pets to cope with anxiety and loneliness. As the pet population rose, so did the demand for pet products, leading to an exponential growth of the pet manufacturing sector. Even as the pandemic is abating, the sector, which includes all categories such as pet food, toys & accessories, pet pharmaceuticals, and grooming products, is steadily expanding particularly through the medium of e-commerce.
Here are four key factors that are driving the growth of the pet manufacturing sector in India:
While metropolitan cities in India are rapidly swelling to spill over their borders, even smaller towns and cities are growing in size as well as number. This growing urbanization has several ramifications for the pet manufacturing sector. Building relationships and forming connections is often sacrificed on the altar of busy city living. Pets help plug this emotional gap and this is the reason a large number of city dwellers adopt pets to spend time with them and keep loneliness at bay. More pets naturally translate into a need for more pet products. Further, since urban living necessitates tighter living spaces, it has led to a greater demand for unique products for keeping pets safe and comfortable such as roll-up dog beds, compact toys and self-cleaning litterboxes. Then, the difficulty of navigating city streets has spurred a demand for products like innovative dog harnesses and cat carriers.
Rise in Nuclear Families
The increase in the number of nuclear families has been a direct consequence of the proliferation of urban spaces across the country. Pet ownership is always greater among nuclear families primarily due to solitude and fulfilment of individual preferences. This has led to humanization of pets wherein pets are treated as equal members of the family. Accordingly, urban pet owners in India are quite discerning about what their pets eat, how they play, and how they are kept entertained. The pet manufacturing sector is expanding on account of novel demands for creative toys & accessories, premium plant-based foods, fancy grooming products, clothing, medication, and other petcare products.
Thanks to upward mobility, there has been a rise in disposable incomes and health and wellness awareness which is reshaping pet owners’ perception towards their pets. As mentioned earlier, the dog or cat in the house is not considered an animal but a member of the family. Subsequently, concerned pet parents nowadays take an active interest in what’s good for their pets and do not mind going the extra mile to ensure their canine or feline companion has the best they can afford. Capitalizing on this collective changing perception, well-known brands of pet food manufacturers have begun offering a host of premium products, including gluten-free products, high-quality vitamins and minerals, probiotics in dry formula, superfoods, and novel proteins among others. Likewise, manufacturers have got creative with pet treats, offering a range of new nutrient-packed products like mousse treats, dairy-free ice treats, bone broths, lollipops, and what have you. The best part is, both pet owners and pets are loving these products.
India is home to one of the world’s youngest populations – nearly 60% of the country’s population comprises millennials and Gen Z members. Millennials, the largest pet-owning demographic, and members of Gen Z – “the loneliest generation” – are rapidly redefining what it means to be a pet parent. Their choices, right from how they shop for their pets to how they play with them, are bringing about a churn in the pet manufacturing sector, sparking the latter’s growth in various areas. For one, younger pet parents are environmentally more conscious and veering towards eco-friendly products like organic cotton leashes and sustainably packaged pet food. They are also more concerned about giving their pets food that is tasty, responsibly sourced, and made of wholesome, high-quality ingredients. Finally, millennial and Gen Z pet parents, like all other consumers, typically look for pet food options that are convenient and easy to use, impelling pet food manufacturers to reinvent packaging and labelling. Studies have shown that millennials are more than willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings, which amply reflects which direction the Indian pet manufacturing sector will take in the years to come.
Like the global pet manufacturing sector, the Indian pet manufacturing sector has been positively affected by the pandemic. However, the trends birthed by the pandemic appear set to continue in post-pandemic times. One of these key trends is a drastic shift to e-commerce platforms and online retailers – with contactless delivery options – for pet shopping on account of convenience while staying home as well as personal safety. Secondly, with financial hardships caused by job losses and salary cuts, large numbers of pet owners have begun looking for high-quality but affordable pet products offered by private labels and small & medium online retailers. Last but not the least, while the pet manufacturing sector in India is all set to see exponential growth over the next few years, it must streamline itself further to improve customer experience and boost sales through e-commerce integration and multichannel sales.