Mark Tanner

Understanding China’s Pet Market’s Runaway Growth

2017/08/09 Mark Tanner
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A quick Google image search for ‘dogs in China’ will return row after row of horrifying snaps that you wouldn’t show your kids. Yet the reality is quite different in most of China’s cities.

Wandering through urban Chinese streets it is hard for even the most macho of men not to find China’s pets adorable. Poodles sporting puffer jackets jostle for pavement space with pugs wearing penny loafers. China’s immaculately groomed pooches would leave many folk in Western cities for dead on the fashion stakes, representative of just how much Chinese dote on their pets.

China’s pets, numbering more than 100 million, have become the centre of one of the country’s fastest growing retail categories. Last year Chinese consumers spent ¥122 billion ($18 billion) on pets and related purchases, with spending expected to rise on average 20.5% each year between 2017 and 2020 – around double retail growth overall. It is no surprise given 99.8% are prepared to spend on their pets; 40.9% take their dogs to a beauty salon, 25% pay someone to wash their pets and 4.5% have had professional photos with them. Although the hounds have more profile, average spending on felines is even higher.

China’s pet industry has a lot of similarities to other categories. For a start, the majority of owners aren’t empty nesting oldies with a lot of time on their hands, but the urban female millennials who are driving China’s overall retail sectorTwo thirds of pet owners are female and 73.2% are aged 20-35 according to Goumin.

It’s little wonder pets are pampered so much in China. 41.4% of owners are single and 23.8% are married without kids, so in many ways the bichon frises and shih tzus are the child of the house. China Skinny sees pet owners showing much of the same buyer behaviour as Chinese parents do with their precious child. Pet food is a good example, where many owners have a strong resistance to additives with natural food accounting for quarter of the market and growing at 55% a year.  The need for quality sees foreign brands account for the majority of the market.

Like every category, Chinese do their research to get the best product for their furry friends. 46.9% actively search for product information, with product quality and what others say about the products being what owners care about most, ahead of price.

One recent development in the pet industry is relevant across most industries in China. An online pet food vendor in China has been successfully sued by Alibaba for selling fake Royal Canin cat food on its Taobao platform. It is the first ruling of its kind and, whilst only a spit in the sea, it will hopefully be followed by many more, possibly making counterfeiters think twice before selling fakes online. Go to Page 2 to see this week’s China news and highlights.

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