Understand Pet Owners Across Generations for Effective Marketing

Marketing in any industry requires a deep understanding of a brand’s target audience before creating campaigns and choosing distribution for those campaigns. One or two generations or cohorts comprise the target audience for many industries. When it comes to pet ownership, however, marketers must fully understand the preferences of all ages, from Generation Alpha to the Silent Generation.

Why? Because everyone loves their pets. Most are passionate about them. How they shop for their pets, however, is a different story. Each generation consumes information and shops in their own unique ways. Marketers also mustn’t overlook how the pandemic altered shopping habits, particularly online purchases.

Following are some tips for helping to understand how to speak to consumers and convert them.    

Pet Owners by Generation

Millennials are the largest generation of pet owners, representing 32% of pet-owning households in America. They’re followed closely by Baby Boomers at 27% and Generation X at 24%. Generation Z, Generation Alpha, and the Silent Generation share the last slice of the pie at 17%.

By developing marketing campaigns and providing shopping options that take just the first three cohorts into account, marketers will reach a massive segment of pet owners at 83%.

Reaching the Baby Boomer Pet Owners

Many marketers mistakenly assume that Baby Boomers aren’t tech-savvy. The truth is that 68% of Baby Boomers now own smartphones, and 59% of them use social media regularly.

generations using digital marketing

The Boomer generation still prefers many traditional outlets, choosing conventional television over streaming services and radio over podcasts. As a result, marketers must be willing to establish a presence in all the places that Baby Boomers reside, from their traditional choices to their new forays into digital worlds.

Pet Marketing for Gen X

Generation X is a bit more cynical and tends to see through branding and marketing tactics that aren’t authentic. Their suspicion of corporations and institutions may lead them to work with smaller boutique pet brands, especially if those products can be purchased online and in person. The good news is that if you gain their trust with great storytelling, quality products, and reliable service, you’ll most likely have a customer for life.

Gen X likes their social media, particularly Facebook. They don’t tend to use TikTok or Snapchat as much as younger generations, but pet marketing on Instagram is a great bet. This generation loves nostalgia, too, particularly recalling the 80s when they were children. For many, that’s when they had their first pet, so it’s a solid marketing tactic to remind them of their early childhood dogs and cats.

To get to the heart of authenticity, marketers should leverage reviews and testimonials with Generation X. Legitimate reviews will stand out, so when marketers are willing to share the less-than-stellar reviews, this audience will most likely also believe in the good reviews.

Millennial Pet Shopping Habits

Of the three generations discussed here, Millennials are the most likely to browse the internet for new pet products rather than go into a brick-and-mortar store. This generation doesn’t just look through pet brand websites, either—47% of them learn about new products on Facebook and YouTube.

This generation is also more likely to make purchases online, especially since the onset of the pandemic, with 62% saying they increased their online pet product purchases rather than visiting stores. Millennials are also the most likely to subscribe to monthly toy and food delivery services such as BarkBox and Chewy’s Goody Box.

Like Generation X, Millennials value authenticity, but in somewhat different ways. They prefer to feel that their discovery of new brands is organic rather than targeted. Also, as with the generation before them, Millennials don’t tend to fall for gimmicks. Instead, they prefer to buy from brands with strong values which promote social good, even if it means spending more money in the long run.

When all generations are combined, 90% of pet owners expect their online pet shopping to increase rather than decrease, even as the pandemic has begun to subside. As a result, savvy marketers will make sure expanded channels for purchase are always available, from click-and-collect, in-person shopping, online purchasing, and subscription models.

If you’d like to target these generations with your pet marketing campaigns, we’re here to help you reach the right buyers with the right messaging at the right time. Reach out any time.