This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Marketing's Horizon

  The Herman Trend Alert

November 21, 2000

Our Pets ARE our Children

40 Days until January 1, 2001

For those of us who are childless or empty nesters, pets often serve as our surrogate children. Some seniors actually refer to their pets as "the kids." Fueled by the remarkable growth in the economy, many of us have extra disposable dollars to spend on our pets. And we're spending like never before.

Doggie daycare (off-worksite) is available in major metropolitan and many smaller urban areas, including Greensboro, North Carolina. Pet owners report that they know that their animals are enjoying themselves, because they often do not want to leave. Costing almost as much as childcare, this service is designed to serve affluent Americans.

The pig's ears that we used to buy in bulk will no longer do. Now, animal bakeries create pet treats that cost 80 to $2 each and pet owners flock to buy the goodies. Some are even reputed to be made with organically grown ingredients. After all, nothing is too good for Fido or Miss Kitty.

Expect to see pet and pet owner vacations for those who simply can't part with Rover or Sheba for even a week. The newspaper USA TODAY recently featured a full page of take-your-pet-along vacations.

And no contemporary conversation about pets would be complete without mentioning that the expenditures on animal pharmaceuticals are growing faster than those for humans. Just ask any owner whose pet has been seriously ill and you will understand the magnitude of pet healthcare costs. Already a force in pet healthcare, we expect that homeopathy and alternative medicine will become even more important.

From pet doorbells to funeral caskets, astute entrepreneurs are cashing in on the pet-love trend, supplying products to fill pet owners' perceived needs... and even some they do not yet know they have. Witness the development of franchises like Petland, catering to more discriminating pet owners, as well as the proliferation of its cut-rate competitors, and you can see why this trend will continue to grow. Not surprisingly, the fastest growing segment of pet owners is affluent Americans who can afford to spoil their pets with the best of everything.

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