A dog’s life. What millennials’ pet obsession means for retail.

It’s no secret millennials are waiting longer than previous generations to get married, buy a house, or have children. It’s also no secret they’re having fewer children on average, with birth rates under the replacement rate of 2.1 across the developed world. And while they recklessly sabotage their financial independence feeding their smashed-avocado addiction, they’re sipping their soy lattes with pooch in hand.

In fact, a US study last year put millennial pet ownership at a tail-wagging 73 percent, making millennials the largest segment of pet owners. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study also showed millennials spend the most time and money on their pets, too, hence the term ‘fur babies’. Believe it or not, a report last year by the Wall Street Journal revealed that brands like Mars’ Pedigree and Nestle’s Purina are suffering somewhat as a result of millennials preferring to treat their pets to more expensive, premium cuisine.

For those millennials choosing to play parent to pets instead of having children of their own, it’s easy to see why from a purely financial perspective, let alone the obvious lifestyle reasons. Not only do millennials have little to nothing in savings, they’re still struggling to gain a foothold on the property ladder. Although looking after pets can be expensive, it doesn’t come close to the cost of raising children – making designer pet clothing like this $320 Burberry monogrammed dog hoodie appear slightly more justifiable.

Of course, it’s not just millennials making it rain like cats and dogs – Gen X and boomers love to spoil their pets, too – but with 59% of the global workforce now made up of millennials and Gen Z alone, the pet-pampering trend is one retailers will be following extremely closely.

Let’s take a look at some of the brands cashing in:

Country Road

Does $50 sound like way too much to spend on a pouch for your plastic dog-poo bags? Of course not! Especially when it’s in a lovely tan leather with subtle Country Road branding. Plus, there are stylish water and food bowls, as well as lavish leads and classy collars.

Thorne Research

Go walkies over to American nutraceutical company Thorne Research’s webstore and you’ll find no fewer than 15 supplements aimed at doting pet-owners keen to keep their pets healthier for longer. Their ‘Small Animal Antioxidant’ product is US$77 before shipping with 2 capsules recommended per 25lbs of body weight for dogs. God help you if you have a heavy dog.

DOGTV

If you’re thinking to yourself, “No, surely this isn’t a digital TV station made for dogs?”, then you’d be wrong, because that’s exactly what DOGTV is. Designed to help keep dogs calm and entertained while their slaves owners are at work, DOGTV has been developed through “years of research with some of the world’s top pet experts” and features custom content to meet “specific attributes of a dog’s sense of vision and hearing to support their natural behaviour patterns.” It’s US$9.99/month.

1 Hotels

Launched in Miami in 2015, and now with two outposts in New York and one in LA, 1 Hotels is a pet-friendly and eco-conscious luxury hotel chain with huge expansion plans including Canada, China, Mexico and Australia. Not only are their hotels designed with energy and water conservation top of mind, dogs are actively encouraged (as long as they’re under 12 kilograms). Other animals are considered on a case-by-case basis. When 1 Hotel Melbourne opens in 2022, expect fancy in-room dog beds and a minibar stocked with dog treats, as well as dog-walking services and doggy day care.

Dishonourable mentions

The examples above are definitely ‘bougie’ enough without going too far down the rabbit hole (pardon the pun) of truly ridiculous ways for people to drop obscene amounts of cash on their pets – like cryogenically freezing them, having them cloned, or even keeping them blinged up with a $3.2 million diamond dog collar.  Not that we’re judging…well, maybe just a little bit.

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