ST. LOUIS — MarketPlace recently released its Consumer Insights Trend Report, sharing insights from pet parents on supplements, ingredients and their purchasing behaviors. The data was presented at the 2023 Annual Conference of the National Animal Supplement Council in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The report is based on MarketPlace’s survey of 765 US pet parents, including a subset of 282 pet supplement shoppers. The company partnered with Dynata to source the panel of survey participants.

The company specifically homed in on pet supplement shoppers, defined as those who reported purchasing and giving supplements to their pets within the past year, as this subset tends to be early adopters of pet nutrition trends, according to MarketPlace.


The skinny on pet supplement consumers

Regarding these pet supplement shoppers, the report shared that 86% are dog parents and 49% are cat parents. Thirty-four percent reported giving their pet supplements daily, 34% give their pet supplements weekly, and 11% give supplements occasionally. Overall, as detailed by MarketPlace, this consumer subset tends to shop by benefit, price and format when selecting a pet supplement. Most report buying supplements that target joint health, skin and coat, digestion and daily wellness, followed by other health benefits including anti-anxiety/calming, allergy relief, immunity and gut health.

In addition to supplements, pet supplement consumers reported buying more treats, toys, grooming products and dental care products compared to the average pet parent. They all also consider a wider range of ingredients and flavors when purchasing general pet nutrition products. This subset also tends to associate antioxidants, fish oil and prebiotics with health benefits.

Overall, more than half of pet supplement shoppers claim to spend between $10 and $40 monthly on pet supplements alone.


From browsing to purchasing

According to MarketPlace’s report, when first looking at pet supplements, most pet supplement consumers (42%) search for a specific health benefit, but other product factors are considered. Forty-three percent claim price is a key factor, 31% factor in a product’s format, 28% take into account product reviews, and 26% consider the brand when selecting a pet supplement. Other highly considered factors include certain product qualities, like vet recommended (58%), clinically proven (28%) and all-natural (26%).

When looking at all 765 pet parents surveyed, 38% first look for a specific benefit when shopping for pet supplements, an increase from 30% in 2021. Fifteen percent consider price, a decrease from 23% in 2021. Other considerations include brand (9%), certifications (9%) like the NASC Quality Seal, product reviews (8%), a specific ingredient (6%), a specific format (5%), and flavor (3%).

Product attributes can help inspire confidence in a product for consumers, leading them to ultimately purchase the pet supplement. For both pet parents and pet supplement consumers, “vet recommended” is the top attribute with 58% of both groups claiming it encourages confidence in a pet supplement product. Twenty-eight percent of both groups claim the attribute “clinically proven” also is also encouraging.  

Other top product attributes include:

  • “all natural” (24% of pet parents and 26% of pet supplement consumers)
  • “science-backed” (13% of pet parents and 16% of pet supplement consumers)
  • “Made in America” (13% of pet parents and 15% of pet supplement consumers)
  • “vet formulated” (13% of both groups)

Regarding product format, consumers tend to favor soft chews, as well as functional treats (treats made with ingredients that provide health benefits). Fifty-two percent of pet parents and 59% of pet supplement consumers prefer soft chews, 24% of pet parents and 25% of pet supplement consumers prefer functional treats, 17% and 19% prefer a kibble food topper, 16% and 18% prefer a wet, gravy-like food topper, 16% and 15% prefer a pill, tablet or capsule, 13% and 16% prefer a liquid like broth, 12% and 11% prefer a water additive, and 11% and 13% prefer a powdered food topper.

Examining specific supplement benefits, MarketPlace found that the top need states purchased included joint health with 25% of pet parents and 40% of pet supplement consumers, skin and coat with 24% and 34%, digestion with 22% and 32%, and daily wellness with 20% and 31%.

In addition, MarketPlace found that demand for products that address these need states has increased throughout the years for consumers. From 2021 to 2023, joint health rose 10%, skin and coat health rose 4%, and daily wellness rose 6% in importance among consumers.

Other top need-states driving supplementation include:

  • Anti-anxiety/calming (16% of pet parents and 23% of pet supplement consumers)
  • Gut health (15% and 21%)
  • Allergy relief (14% and 23%)
  • Immunity (13% and 21%)
  • Weight management (13% and 15%)
  • Senior wellness (12% and 15%)
  • Heart and liver (12% and 15%)
  • Pain relief (11% and 15%)
  • Urinary and kidney (10% and 16%)

Additionally, the top need states among pet parents who reported not currently purchasing pet supplements but would consider doing so includes daily wellness (23%), senior wellness (19%), joint health (18%), skin and coat (17%), and pain relief (17%).

Diving into the formula

With many ingredients becoming associated with health benefits in humans, pet supplement consumers have begun to seek certain ingredients in their pet’s supplements. According to the report, 23% of pet supplement shoppers reported they look for a specific ingredient when purchasing pet supplements. In general, most pet parents associate antioxidants (43%), fish oil (29%) and probiotics (24%) with positive health benefits for their pets.

Additionally, the growth in awareness of B-complex vitamins and antioxidants among consumers is noteworthy. According to MarketPlace, interest in B-complex vitamins has grown from 12% in 2021 to 21% in 2023, and that of antioxidants has skyrocketed from 18% in 2021 to 43% in 2023.

Other ingredients consumers associate with positive health benefits include vitamin D, Omega 3 and 6, cannabidiol (CBD), glucosamine, biotin, collagen, apple cider vinegar, prebiotics, Ashwagandha, elderberry, chondroitin, zine, hemp, chlorophyll and turmeric. However, it’s important to note that prebiotics, hemp and turmeric have experienced small decreases in the percentage of consumers associating these ingredients with positive health benefits from 2021 to 2023, whereas most other ingredients only experienced increases.

Alongside tried-and-true ingredients, consumers are also looking to other product attributes to determine the quality of a pet supplement and their ultimate decision to purchase. According to MarketPlace, specific ingredients included in a supplement formula indicate quality for 38% of pet supplement shoppers, an increase of 7% from 2021.

The attribute “Made in the USA” was a top quality indicator for this group in 2021 (38%), but has since dropped off to 26%. MarketPlace attributes this drop off to the increased prevalence of “Made in the USA” or “Made in the USA with globally sourced ingredients” claims, as they have proliferated in the pet space, and other industries, so much so that these attributes have evolved from a distinguishing quality to an expectation.

In addition to specific ingredients, other attributes that indicate high-quality for pet supplement consumers include organic (32%), clinical trials (28%) and human-grade ingredients (25%).

Regarding specific proteins used in pet nutrition, including supplements, food and treats, pet parents were most likely to consider products made with chicken (81%), turkey (78%), beef (77%), wild Alaskan salmon (75%) and tuna (70%). Pet supplement consumers preferred these same proteins— chicken (87%), turkey (86%), beef (82%), wild Alaskan salmon (80%), and tuna (73%) — and were also more likely to consider duck proteins (72%).

For plant and fungi-based ingredients, both pet parent and pet supplement consumers are more likely to consider products made with carrot, sweet potato, peanut butter and apple. However, the pet supplement group was more likely to consider a wider range of these ingredients, like blueberry and flaxseed.

Other ingredients that influence purchasing considerations for both groups include:

  • Vitamin D (70% of pet parents and 79% of pet supplement consumers)
  • Omega 3 (69% and 80%)
  • Omega 6 (67% and 81%)
  • Bone broth (63% and 74%)
  • Collagen (52% and 63%)
  • Glucosamine (50% and 63%)
  • Aloe vera (49% and 55%)
  • Chamomile (47% and 53%)
  • Ginger root (43% and 50%)
  • Thiamine (43% and 50%)
  • CoQ10 (41% and 52%)

Overall, pet supplement consumers tend to consider a wider range of ingredients and protein sources compared to pet parents when purchasing pet nutritional products, ultimately hoping to find variety, according to MarketPlace.


Fetching information

When searching for information on pet health and wellness, both in-person and online sources are leveraged by both pet parents and pet supplement consumers, according to MarketPlace. For pet parents, 73% report going to their veterinarian to learn more about pet health, 36% seek out information from family and friends, and 35% go online. The pet supplement subset also favors these sources, as well as turning to more online sources, like product reviews (30%) and brand websites (21%), more so than the pet parent group.

The most-researched topics relating to pet health and wellness for these groups include vitamins and minerals, biotics, CBD, apple cider vinegar, elderberry, Ashwagandha and medicinal mushrooms.


Retail, spending habits

According to MarketPlace’s report, both pet parents and pet supplement consumers reported a return to in-store shopping at pet specialty retailers within the past 12 months of 2023. Forty-six percent of pet parents and 59% of pet supplement consumers claimed they shopped at pet specialty retailers. Additionally, 85% of both groups claimed to have made pet product purchases in-store.

Though there may be a return to in-store habits, both groups are still utilizing online purchasing methods. Seventy percent of pet parents reported making purchases online, while 83% of pet supplement consumers reported the same.

Combining both in-store and online purchasing, pet parents’ retail habits reveal that 54% shop at pet specialty retailers, 50% shop at mass retailers like Walmart and Target, and 20% shop at club stores like Costco and Sam’s Club.

The top items both groups purchased in the past 12 months include pet food (80% of pet parents and 85% of pet supplement consumers), treats (68% and 74%), supplements (38% and 100%,) functional treats (35% and 51%), and dental care products (34% and 49%), among other pet supplies and accessories. Overall, pet supplement consumers tend to purchase a wider range of pet products, according to MarketPlace.

Regarding each group’s spending habits, nearly all pet parents claimed they spent the same or more on their pets last year. Fifty-five percent of both pet parents and pet supplement consumers reported spending about the same amount, 40% of pet parents and 42% of pet supplement consumers reported spending more, and just 5% of pet parents and 3% of pet supplement consumers reported spending less.

If these consumers were forced to reduce their overall monthly spending, most would cut costs for their own products as opposed to those for their pets.

For pet parents, 60% would focus on cutting entertainment costs, 35% on apparel and services, 28% on monetary donations, 19% on food, 9% on transportation, 6% on healthcare, 5% on housing, 5% on personal insurance, and 4% on education.

For pet supplement consumers, 65% would focus on cutting entertainment costs, 38% on apparel and services, 32% on monetary donations, 18% on food, 7% on transportation, 5% on healthcare, 3% on housing, 2% on personal insurance, and 5% on education.

Just 4% of pet parents and 3% of pet supplement consumers reported they would cut costs on their pets, demonstrating these purchases as more of a necessity.

In addition, if the price of their pet’s food increased 10%, 69% of pet parents and 73% of pet supplement consumers claimed they would continue to purchase that food. Twenty-three percent from both groups reported they would look for an alternative. If the price of their pet’s supplement increased 10%, 58% of pet parents and 66% of pet supplement parents claimed they would continue to purchase that same supplement. Thirty percent of pet parents and 29% of pet supplement consumers would look for an alternative.

Keep up with the latest pet food trends on our Trends page.