For the last three years ever since it was discovered that Millennials had surpassed Baby boomers as the largest pet-owning demographics in America, there has been a tenuous conversation ongoing about the alarming rate of Millennials pet ownership. Opinions on this topic have been so fractured with some tolerant of the development while others have gone as far as writing inflammatory articles, declaring; Millennials are choosing animals over people!
While this may sound hilarious at first, the data does seem to back it up somewhat. One of the reasons for this trend is the obvious fact that Millennials seem to be delaying milestones like marriage and having children way more than the baby boomers. Pets seem to be a rational replacement.
This phenomenon is true, not because Millennials no longer see the need for kids, but because many of them consider owning a pet to be a training of sorts for parenting. It helps them get used to the responsibility and then eases them into it. According to research by Gfk, 35% of Millennials as compared with 32% of Boomers, and Fifty-seven percent of millennial households own a dog versus 51% of all U.S. households.
These statistics are a bit worrying to many Boomers who tend to see this as a delay to nature’s process and a sign of irresponsibility. It doesn’t help that Millennials now spend way more on their pets on things like food, toys, accessories, and even high-end pet clothes!
As a proud owner of three dogs myself, I know what it costs to own and raise one, I also understand why the Boomers seem incensed, however, I have also observed a few surprisingly interesting fallouts of this phenomenon that just might interest you.
Millennials Are Likely To Live Longer because of this
I don’t intend to predict the future with any level of expertise, but what I do have is the research that has been done and it is pretty interesting. Studies on the connection between humans and pets have revealed thrilling results and benefits for pet owners.
A Swedish study published in the Journal of Scientific Reports Friday reported that owning a dog is associated with a discernibly reduced chance of cardiovascular diseases and Fox8 reports showed that walking your dog regularly plays out positively in the exercise index while the support and the companionship of pets is a major deterrent to depression and a cushion for harsh life circumstances.
In fact the research is increasingly interesting for people who live alone (who had previously been found to have a shorter life span) as it showed that owning a pet can reduce death risk by as much as 33% and risk of cardiovascular-disease related death by 36% compared to people who live alone without pets.
When you put this all in the context you will find this to be interesting for a few more reasons; Millennials are by far the most innovative generation having already given us social media and tremendous advancements in tech. This means that while we delay marriage and childbearing we are also building tremendous businesses and advancements. This also means that following this research, we will be around for much longer to continue doing just that.
Rebirth of Industries and Businesses
if there is one thing that the internet has done for the world, it is that it has greatly multiplied opportunities for the entrepreneurially minded. Nothing is without money-making capabilities unless you are yet to find it. Many of the Boomers criticized Millennials for the amount of time ‘wasted’ on social media and the internet and to an extent this was true, but this was only true for those who hadn’t learned the great opportunities therein. Today, a huge percentage of Millennials earn primarily from the internet and through social media.
This has been a trend with millennials and this hasn’t stopped with the increase in pet ownership.
Pet photography for one has taken off! We are way past the occasional selfie with your pooch, Millennials are taking advantage and setting up more and more professional pet photography businesses run by pet lovers and skilled professionals who have the skill and patience to handle such photoshoots (You’d know if you have ever been!). Some of the best pet photographers charge as much as 150$ which opens up a huge business opportunity.
Another huge business that has risen from here is the Pet acquisition and handling industry. This industry had remained a “traditional” industry, with no signs of fast growth for generations and suddenly due to this pet ownership trend presently boasts a super-impressive 14% CAGR, with a 77B USD in 2018 and in the US alone. No mature traditional industry has seen such annual growth.
Another reason for this growth is off course the leveraging of tech and the internet. If you can hire a car through Uber and You can order groceries online and get home delivery. Why shouldn’t pet purchase and grooming benefit? Businesses have taken off on this premise alone, with BabelBark the most popular and largest of the slew.
To show how viable this industry is, to investors, Babelbark has raised over 8.6M$ so far, boasting over 650 pet businesses connected to over 200,000 pets, growing at a high rate of hundreds per day. AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) has chosen them as the EXCLUSIVE vet-pet platform until Dec 2021 – to over 4400 clinics.
These businesses all Millennial run are examples of how we tend to create what seems to be a problem at first and then leverage on that same problem to build phenomenal things.
The WorkPlace is Benefitting from Pet Ownership
This is only a natural extension of the already discussed health benefits of pet ownership. However, it is worthy of a closer look. Millennials are forecasted to compose 50% of America’s workforce by 2020 and this is significant if Pet ownership is in any way beneficial to the workplace.
It has been found that in addition to the general health benefits pets have to their owners, like lower blood pressure and a decreased risk of stroke and heart attack, they also light up the workplace.
Here is what the experts are saying; Randolph Barker one of the study authors in a 2012 study of a group of Greensboro, North Carolina, said in a news release. “Dogs in the workplace can make a positive difference. The differences in perceived stress between days the dog was present and absent were significant. The employees as a whole had higher job satisfaction than industry norms.”
According to Bob Vetere, president and CEO of American Pet Products Association, employers are starting to realize that having a millennial bring a pet to work, results in a more focused employee, employees more comfortable at the office and willing to work longer hours”.
As of 2015, about 8% of U.S workplaces allowed pets in the office and this has grown steadily. Amongst notable companies to implement this policy are big players like Amazon, Ben & Jerry’s, Google, Clif Bar, Build-A-Bear, Petco, the Humane Society, and Etsy to mention a few.
There are a few things Pet owners need to have tidied before taking Pets to work or it may prove counterproductive, but judging by the growth of this trend, I’d say Millennials are making it work.
In the end, while the trend may seem a little odd, Millennials always find a way to benefit the greatest from the very things that older generations deem extremely odd. While we must encourage marriages and childbirth, it does seem like the trend of Pet ownership is not something to be discouraged.
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