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Pets, the Millennials' Matchmakers

Millennials are driving the most significant changes in pet ownership

Through our recent 2016 Changing Pet Ownership Study with Brakke Consulting, we uncovered generational insights among Millennial, Gen X and Boomer pet owners. Not surprisingly, Millennials are driving the most significant changes in pet ownership. These changes come with vast marketing implications and opportunities to connect with this pet owning segment in a new way.

This is a generation that grew up with the world at their fingertips and barely remembers a time when meeting someone was more than clicking a “Request Friend” or “Follow” button. As a Millennial myself, I can attest to the fact that it’s much easier to meet someone online than to actually go out and make a face to face connection. When making online connections, Millennials are more likely to use free dating websites and apps like okcupidand Tinder rather than paying for subscriptions to Match and eHarmony. However, okcupidand Tinder tend to be more for hook-ups than establishing meaningful relationships. And, while it’s easier to connect online, it still comes with a lot of stress and pressure to pick the right picture, fill out your profile just so and then navigate the nuances of communicating with someone online or via text. It can be overwhelming.

Based on our research, we found that Millennials are more likely than previous generations to acquire pets as a way to meet new people.

This applies particularly to men. In fact, research from Mintel uncovered that almost half (47%) of pet owners believe owning a pet is better for your social life than social networking sites. So move over Tinder and make room for our pets Sparky, Buttercup and Mr. Sprinkles because these are the new matchmakers. Even Millennial-focused publications like Millennial Lifestyle encourage their audiences to visit dog parks as the number one place to meet new people. With a generation that seeks instant gratification, what better way to meet Mr. or Mrs. right than to have your cute and cuddly pet bring them straight to you.

Pet owners believe a pet is better for social life than social networking sites

Understanding this mentality and behavior is key to communicating with this audience.

For marketers, this means not only relevant audience messaging but also thinking outside the box in terms of where you speak to them. For instance, branded pet-friendly events or creative ways to engage with Millennials at dog parks on sidewalks and signs. I’ve personally seen this shift in my neighborhood with restaurants now allowing you to bring your dog and eat outside on their patios. This is a trend that we expect to continue and one that will be vital for brands to understand and address for long-term success when connecting and marketing to Millennials.  

To discuss further marketing implications please contact Kimberly Ness, VP, Pet Practice, at kness@trone.com or 336-819-6933.

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