A new Kantar U.S. MONITOR study finds a majority of pet owners would prioritize their pet’s happiness over its health if given the choice. Sixty-three percent of pet owners, in fact, said it’s more important for their pet to be happy than to maintain the perfect weight—up from 59% a decade ago. This shift is largely driven by Millennial consumers in their mid to late 30s and 40s, 68% of whom said they would prioritize pets’ happiness over their weight compared to just 55% of 36-49 year-old consumers in 2014—a 24% increase over the last decade.
Just as humans have gotten used to more variety of foods over the last decade—from new cuisines to new formats—pet owners across demographics are increasingly looking to give their pets new food experiences, flavors and textures. According to Kantar MONITOR, 81% of pet owners today believe their pet “deserves to have food as varied as I eat” compared to 68% of consumers who felt this way in 2014. While this shift appeared across demographics, the largest change was among women and those ages 36-49, again suggesting Millennials are driving this change.
We’ve noticed a growing trend over the last decade of people humanizing their pets, which is likely at the heart of these findings. It’s not a stretch to conclude that things people do for themselves, like treating themselves through food or gifts, applies to their pets as well. Data from Kantar Retail, for instance, shows that 67% of pet shoppers, including 73% of older Millennials, enjoy buying gifts for their pets, suggesting today’s animal companions are viewed more like their human counterparts within the family than as the traditional family pet of previous generations.