STAMFORD, CONN. — On March 23, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) released volume four of its Generational Report during Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Fla. The report examines the various generations of pet owners and focuses on the largest group of owners — Millennials — and the growing group of Gen Z pet parents compared to both Baby Boomers and Gen X.

“The data in our newest Generational Report tells a tale of generational differences when it comes to pet owner attitudes and behaviors: on the one side, the youngest pet owners, Gen Z and Millennials, and on the other, Gen X and Baby Boomers,” said Anne Ferrante, senior vice president of member relations and business development, APPA. “While there is no doubt all generations of pet owners love their pets and agree pets play an important role in their lives, their attitudes and behaviors reflect the different ways they demonstrate that love for their pets.”

PXL_20220324_152639745.jpgJulie Springer, research analyst at APPA, announcing the results of APPA's volume four of its Generational Report. (Source: Sosland Publishing Co.)

Pet ownership

In terms of pet ownership, APPA found that Millennials are the largest segment of pet owners at 32%, with Baby Boomers close behind at 27%, Gen X at 24% and Gen Z at 14%. However, APPA expects that Gen Z’s ownership will steadily grow as many become adults within the next few years.

APPA also found:

  • Millennials and Gen Z experienced the highest increases in pet ownership during COVID-19, with Gen Z fostering the most pets.
  • Gen Z leads the category in small pet ownership, compared to the other generations, and owns the most fish, birds, reptiles and horses.
  • Baby Boomers and Gen X are more likely to recognize the social and emotional benefits of owning a pet.


Personal attitudes

Considering personal attitudes toward pet product purchasing, APPA looked at several aspects, including brand loyalty, spending and new product awareness.

For brand loyalty, 57% of Gen X, 54% of Millennials, 52% of Gen Z and 48% of Baby Boomers consider themselves to be brand loyal, according to APPA. Gen Z and Millennials are more willing to purchase a variety of products, including different types of pet food, treats and toys, while Baby Boomers and Gen X are more likely to maintain the pet care attitudes and behaviors they’ve had for years.

In attitudes toward pet food spending specifically, APPA found that 33% of Millennial and 31% of Gen Z pet owners plan to spend less money on pet food, while only 18% of Gen X and 8% of Baby Boomers plan to spend less.

For new product awareness overall, Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to find a new product through the internet or social media, while Baby Boomers and Gen X are more likely to find a new product while browsing in-store. In learning about new pet products online, YouTube is Gen Z’s top source, while Millennials and Gen X rely on Facebook, and Baby Boomers use company or retail websites.

Pet product purchasing

APPA found that certain generations are willing to pay more for different pet product attributes. According to APPA, Baby Boomers would pay more for pet products that are made in the United States or are brand name; Gen X would pay more for pet products that are US-made, brand name or are ethically sourced; Millennials would pay more for ethically sourced, brand name, BPA-free, US-made or more eco-friendly pet products; and Gen Z is willing to pay more for ethically sourced, BPA-free and eco-friendly pet products.

Within the segments of Millennials and Gen Z, APPA found that both generations of pet parents have spent more money on their pets in the past year, with 62% of Millennials and 52% of Gen Z upping their spending. Millennials and Gen Z lead the category of online pet food and treat purchasing, particularly in subscription-based purchasing.

Within the segments of Baby Boomers and Gen X, APPA found consistent spending despite COVID-19, but a higher spending in pet food and veterinary care within the pet space.

For online purchasing overall, both pet food and treat purchases showed significant increases across every generation, with Gen Z and Baby Boomers showing the highest increases in online pet food purchasing and Gen Z with the highest increase in online pet treat purchasing.

“It will be increasingly important to watch these trends as Gen Z’s share of pet ownership continues to grow,” Ferrante said. “Awareness of attitudes and behaviors specific to each generation can help improve understanding of all pet owners and ensure pet product offerings meet the needs of current consumers.”

More on APPA’s Volume Four Generational Report.

Read more of our Global Pet Expo coverage.