Move aside, Boomers! Millennials have officially taken the lead as the largest group of pet parents, and they’re changing the face of the industry one premium product at a time.

While Millennials delay traditional milestones, like getting married, buying a house, or having children, they’re choosing to be animal parents in staggering numbers. In fact, Millennials have adopted more dogs and cats than any other generation in history. They are now the largest group of pet parents at 35%+ (overtaking Baby Boomers, who are now in second place at 32%+).

“The pet industry is changing as a result of so many Millennials adopting dogs and cats,” says industry veteran and Freely Pet CEO, Reed Howlett. “Products, distribution channels, and nutrition trends are as unique as pet parents, with Millennials disrupting the industry as it responds to their needs, wants, lifestyles, and technology savviness.”

6 Millennial mega-trends

  1. Millennials have emerged as a major driver of growth in the US and Canada, as this demographic is more likely than any other to view their dogs and cats as family members.
  2. “Premiumization” is driving growth in specialty products and brands across a wide range of items, especially food, being purchased by Millennials for their dogs and cats.
  3. “Millennials are increasingly looking for online-based veterinary services,” says veterinarian Dr. Sara Gilbert. “Beyond merely having their pets’ medications and foods delivered to their doorsteps, they are proactively seeking teleadvice and telehealth, as well as online appointment scheduling and digital communications with their veterinary teams.”
  4. Increasingly, everything that Millennials need for themselves they also want for their animals. They’re willing to splurge on luxuries such as specialty foods, beds, toys, clothing, travel accessories, and gifts, along with the necessities like collars, leashes, bowls, medicine, grooming, and veterinary services.
  5. Millennials favor manufacturers and retailers who truly understand their needs. “Younger shoppers are quite discerning when it comes to the products they consider good enough for their pets,” says Nathan Richter, senior partner at Wakefield Research.
  6. Nearly two in three Millennials (63%) find expertise is lacking in big-box pet stores, grocery stores, and mass retail outlets. They’re actively seeking specialized information from their vets, groomers, trainers, and trusted online sources.