Pet owners spent a total of $69.5 billion in 2017. Millennials make up 35% of U.S. pet owners and are spending more on pet food than any other generation. The price of pet food, according to Business Insider, has increased from an average $1.71 per pound in 2011 to $2.55 per pound in 2017, and they report it plays to an increasing trend toward owners pampering their pets.
According to a report by the Pew Research Center, millennials are 50% less likely than the Silent Generation to be married. They're also delaying parenthood. Instead, they report, they're becoming pet owners. These pet owners not only act differently than previous generations, but they also spend differently.
And 76% of millennials are likely to splurge on their pets compared to just 50% of baby boomers. According to Nielsen, annual household spending on pets increased by 36% between 2007 and 2017. This shift has led to a flurry of new brands entering the market. In 2017, 4,500 new pet food products were introduced, a 45% increase from the year before, and many of the new entrants were labeled as premium products.
It is important to note that a 2007 study conducted by the California Institute of Technology and the Stanford University found that a product's price can alter our brain activity in how we perceive the product, finding that our brains equate more expensive with better.
The move to grass-fed, organic, vegan and wheat and corn-free pet offerings are more expensive—and most likely make their owners feel better.