Pets Are Going Digital: a $565 Million Market For Smart Pet Products

With digital technology enhancing all aspects of consumers’ lives, it is no surprise that pets and their parents are getting digitally connected too. Pet tech is a rapidly growing market with pet owners in search of smart pet products that provide added safety, convenience and peace of mind.

Pets are now full-fledged family members in 68% of American households, some 85 million of them. “Most pet owners are already using smart devices, so it’s not surprising that they would turn to technology to stay more connected with their pets throughout the day,” said David Sprinkle, research director of Packaged Facts.

The company recently released a study of the $4.9 billion durables dog and cat petcare products market, ranging from toys, collars and leashes, beds, carriers, bowls and feeders, apparel and fashion, litter boxes and smart pet products.

While smart pet products remain a small part of the pet durables market with sales of $565 million in 2018, it is growing rapidly, up 11% from 2017. As more pet parents are turned on to how technology can enhance the bond with their pets, it is a segment poised for even faster growth in the future.

At its current growth rate, the smart pet market should reach $1 billion by 2023. On that projection, David Lummis, senior analyst at Packaged Facts, is conservative, expecting the category to benefit from “fairly significant tailwinds from pet food and vet services.”

Pet tech helps create a stronger bond while pet parents are away from home. PetChatz offers two-way audio and visual connections to allow pet parents to monitor and interact with their pets when they are away from home.

Described as “digital daycare for the home alone pet,” it is a solution for separation anxiety, both for pets and their parents. A study conducted by Zulily, found that the vast majority of millennial pet parents (84%) frequently worry about their pets when they are away from home.

More play with a technology assist

A happy pet is one that gets plenty of play time with parents, and tech is enabling that too.

CleverPet Hub is described as “the world’s first game console for dogs,” but it is also adapted to cats. The toy’s touchpads light up and make noise as pets solve puzzles with a treat administered when the correct answer is touched.

Designed by what are described as “animal-loving cognitive scientists,” the software can be set to the desired difficulty level with times adjusted to keep the pet busy and engaged.

And Pebby Smart Ball is a connected play device also appropriate for dogs and cats. It is a smartphone-controlled ball with a built-in camera that lets pet parents interact remotely. It also has an auto-play feature that can be programmed for extended play.

Pet care at the touch of a button

Pet parents are strongly motivated for a technology assist to make pet care easier and more convenient. A proprietary survey of pet owners conducted by Packaged Facts found that a top purchase motivator for smart pet-tech was to “save time/make my life easier.” So they are turning to automated litter boxes, feeders, waterers and pet doors.

For example, SurePetcare offers a micro-chip controlled pet door that only opens when it reads the pet’s microchip or RFID tad. It then signals a smartphone app when the pet leaves and enters the house and also allows parents to control when the pet can have outdoor time. And an added benefit, it keeps inquisitive raccoons and neighborhood cats out.

Litter Robot puts an end to the smelly and sometimes back-breaking job of scooping waste from the litter box. It automatically senses when the cat is inside and then cleans up after by dropping waste into the bottom drawer that needs emptying only every seven to ten days.

Pet parents get support in feeding too with products that allow them to monitor feedings with their smartphones. Obe offers a bowl for food or water that has a smart base that records the amount of food and water consumed. It also offers an automatic replenishment service for food through Amazon.

Luxuries for the four-legged set

High-tech also brings a new level of luxury to pets, like the ZenCrate from Play and Plug Robotics. Positioned to relieve pet anxiety, it also provides motion-sensored fan cooling and a pet-appropriate music playlist when the pet enters its private domain.

And Home Pet Spa delivers a spa experience to pets. It’s a fully enclosed portable tub that includes mister jets for all body soaking and a hand-controlled shower wand for rinsing.

The luxury of pure flowing water is on offer from Petsafe through its Amazon-hosted website. High-tech watering systems include a wide range of filtering and circulating water fountains in a variety of designs suited to most any pet parents’ style home.

High-tech solutions for long, healthy pet life

Just as people increasingly are monitoring their health and wellness via digital monitoring devices, pet parents are turning to similar devices to monitor their pets’ health. FitBark is a doggie version of a FitBit-type device to monitor activity levels, steps taken and sleep periods. Recorded data is synced to the parent’s smartphone app with the resulting data accessible to veterinarians and other pet service providers.

And Wagz offers a fully-integrated range of products keyed to a smart dog collar and mobile app. It can connect with a smart feeder, door, treat dispenser and smart water dish. It promises to give, “your dog newfound freedom, better nutrition, long-lasting health and more attention.”

Such health trackers are predicted to be a strong growth category not only to provide parents with data of their pet’s activity but also to interface with petcare services and product marketers.

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