The De-Stressing Power Of Pets

Alison Wiltshire

17 Sep 2020

For many Americans, the trials of 2020 have been made more bearable by their animal companions.

Research by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) found that nearly three in four owners said spending time with their pets helped reduce stress and increase their well-being during the crisis. Pets are stepping into the social distancing gap, with 70% cent of owners spending more time with their pet. Dog adoptions reached new levels during the pandemic. A company in Austin is giving employees $300 to towards the cost of a pet to sweeten the solitude of working from home. And if you can’t have your own pet, Sweet Farm animal sanctuary in California offered to let you book a goat to join your Zoom call.

When we consider pets as family members, we want to treat them as such. Basic food and simple bedding are not enough. There are foods for every palate and digestive system, plus nutritional supplements. There’s personalised accessories and clothing. The latter can be decorative (cute bandana) – or functional – (neoprene booties for socially distanced walkies in winter weather). Speaking as a cat owner, my attention is caught by the self-cleaning litter box…

The pet market is famously resilient. After all, pets are not the ones cutting back on pumpkin spice lattes and dry-cleaning bills. They still need feeding, grooming, entertaining and general care to the same extent. APPA says 64% of pet owners it surveyed have spent the same amount of money on their pets as they did before the crisis and 21% have spent more. It’s a huge business opportunity, for supermarkets and household retailers as well as pet care specialists. And for the year to date, the Pet Care Index has earned a positive return of 11.35% while the S&P 500 was down 3.09%.

Pets and their owners have been used to spending quality time together over recent months. Lots of people say they now have a closer relationship with their pets than before, thanks to working from home. But there is a little cloud on the horizon. As human members of the family start returning to school, to the office, both animals and their people are going to find the separation tough. Petfresh says over half of American pet parents say they will feel guilty for leaving their pets home when they go back to work away from home. 

Fortunately, there’s a rapidly expanding range of digital gadgets that let you stay in touch with your pets wherever you are. Smart monitoring devices incorporating cameras and microphones that you control from your phone let you keep an eye on your pet when you’re out. You can check up on their wellbeing (or gather evidence about who has shredded the new pillows), talk to them, feed them or dispense treats remotely

During the lockdown, online sales of everything shot up and pet care is no exception. Pet owners are well provided for online. Ecommerce already accounted for over 16 per cent of global pet care market sales in 2019, and is expected to grow more than 10 per cent between 2020 and 2026. Online sales of pet food and non- food products are expected to increase to 27% of total category sales in 2020. More people are shopping online than ever before – quite a few of them for the first time. They’ll welcome some help and advice, especially as they explore new pet care categories and products. 

Social proof messaging is a powerful way to guide consumers through the often-overwhelming choice they encounter online. Social proof harnesses simple psychology: people are persuaded by the actions of others. And today’s consumers trust each other more than they trust brands. Social proof aggregates the opinions of others to deliver a flow of relevant messages throughout the shopper’s online journey, including the brand or retailer’s website plus social media, DM emails and OOH sites in the mall. 

Some pet owners will be shopping online for the first time; they’ll need extra encouragement and support throughout their journey. And even experienced owners may need some help when it comes to choosing, say, the right microchip-enabled pet door. Simply seeing that lots of other pet owners are considering and purchasing the same items give consumers the reassurance they need to buy. 

Finally, let’s not forget that the holiday season is coming. What pet lover wouldn’t want their animal companions to have a special gift at this time of year? Social proof messages can help them find best-selling items, or what’s cool for cats this year.

If you’d like to see how social proof contributes to a great online experience, get in touch. We can create and test messaging and get it up and running on your website in days so you can judge its impact for yourselves. 

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