Last updated on November 30, 2023

The Pet Industry as a Growing Giant

For those of us who are pet owners, our love for our pets is immeasurable. This strong emotional bond has fueled the pet industry, leading to a market that caters to the diverse needs and desires of pet owners. The pet industry is thriving, with a current size of approximately 4.2 billion dollars, and is projected to reach 5.3 billion by 20251. The compound annual growth rate from 2020 to 2025 is an impressive 7.2%, showcasing its investment potential1. This growth is evident across various categories, including food, toys, clothing, and accessories, primarily for cats and dogs. The devotion to our furry companions has not only spurred innovation but also fueled the need for choice by the consumer. To delve deeper into this particular industry, Caddle conducted a series of surveys from May to July 2023 to understand the nuances of purchasing pet products and the role ratings and reviews can play in elevating the consumer shopping experience.

Canadians tend to spoil their furry friends by purchasing pet products, with approximately 20% of Canadians planning to purchase more pet products in the next six months. Pet owners recognize that ensuring their pets’ health and well-being is most important, leading to an increased intention to prioritize this aspect. Caddle’s surveys also shed light on the preferred shopping destinations for pet owners. Consumers are willing to get a discount for pet food, but when pet parents purchase something for their pets to play with or wear, most Canadians go to specialty stores. Walmart dominates the wet pet food category, while specialty and discount grocery stores are the go-to choices for dry food. If we break it down with a share of voice across all the categories, Walmart has captured a significant chunk of the market.

Top “Store Types” for Pet Categories

Moving Online to Reach Omnichannel Bliss

Omnichannel is a customer-centric approach with an integration of purchase channels. These channels might include in-person shopping, the usage of an app, and e-commerce. This approach permits customers to have a unified and consistent experience. Omnichannel is increasingly essential for pet businesses and allows flexibility to purchase online, in-person, or via delivery. E-commerce is undeniably a critical component of the pet retail industry, representing a significant chunk with 21.7% of sales. In the future, we may witness an increasingly competitive online landscape. However, businesses can increase their chances of success by staying ahead of the game and enhancing their e-commerce websites. As part of their omnichannel strategy, brands can distinguish themselves from the competition by honing in on one or two pet categories. This allows them to position themselves as leaders of niche products. 

To adopt the omnichannel approach, a business will often need to improve its loyalty program to align with its e-commerce. One of the best things pet business owners can do is ensure customer needs are met. It is also important to acknowledge the changing economic landscape amid the adoption of omnichannel strategies. The economy influences pet owners’ purchasing behaviours and leads them to reconsider purchasing that extra pet store indulgence beyond their pets’ food. Although many Canadians will opt for in-person shopping, providing consumers with a tailored online experience is still essential. This particularly rings true for Canadians who prefer a mix of both online and in-person. Those who use both methods, ordering online and picking up in-store, tend to purchase wet dog food (38%) and dry dog food (34%). When it comes to online ordering and delivery, almost half (48%) of consumers choose to have pet clothing shipped to their homes, while an even larger majority (60%) opt to have pet toys delivered. On the other hand, consumers are less likely to ship pet food: wet dog food (20%), dry dog food (32%), and dry cat food (35%) respectively.

Online Options Used for Pet Categories

Staying Competitive with Ratings and Reviews

The pet industry is dynamic, and pet owners are open to changing where they buy their supplies. Between 21% and 33% of respondents in Caddle’s surveys have switched their pet product suppliers in the past 12 months. Staying competitive and relevant remains essential, and businesses can achieve this by investing and improving their ratings and reviews.

On average, 56% of Canadians feel ratings and reviews are important when making decisions in the pet category. How can businesses improve their ratings and reviews? The review features were consistent across all categories: quality was number one, followed by overall star rating and helpful reviews. When analyzing data on pet accessories, pictures and videos are very important. People love seeing photos of pets dressed up in clothing and accessories before purchasing them. You may ask, does this mean consumers feel ratings and reviews are most important to read before purchasing pet clothing and accessories? Our research indicates that pet clothing is the category most influenced by ratings and reviews, while pet accessories are the least influenced.

Importance of Ratings and Reviews by Pet Category

With 49%+ of Canadians feeling that ratings and reviews are crucial for all pet categories, user-generated content is an integral part of marketing pet products. In a compelling pet brand case study by Caddle, there was a remarkable 67% increase in the number of pages ranked without paid search engine optimization when leveraging ratings and reviews2. This demonstrates the influence of user-generated content in boosting a brand’s online presence. Impressively, there was a 140% increase in impressions from non-paid internet searches, showcasing the power of reviews in driving visibility and brand recognition2. The surge in online engagement didn’t stop there, as there was also an 80% increase in clicks from non-paid engine searches, illustrating the direct correlation between ratings and reviews and user interest2. These findings serve as compelling evidence that for pet-oriented businesses, ratings and reviews are significant in unlocking success in the competitive pet industry.

How To Find Success

The pet industry offers immense growth opportunities. An omnichannel approach, combined with a focus on improving online experiences through ratings and reviews, is essential for pet businesses. By adapting to changing consumer behaviours and preferences, and harnessing the power of user-generated content, businesses in the pet industry can thrive and continue to meet the evolving needs of pet owners.

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1Source: Sector Trend Analysis – Pet food trends in Canada, Ministry of Agriculture. Canada

2Source: Caddle report on Ratings & Reviews | April 7-10, 2021 | n = 1,048, Caddle report on Ratings & Reviews | December 12, 2020 | n = 1,510

*Disclaimer: all other data is collected and presented by Caddle