Marketing to Millennial Pet Parents:
What They Actually Want

Take a peek inside the mind of the biggest buying power going, with this guide to marketing to millennial pet parents.

Junior Copywriter

Liv

Content Conjurer Genie

So we already know that marketing to millennial pet parents can create a large, lucrative & loyal customer base. One that can help to future proof your pet business. But the next question is….what do these pet owners really want?

 

As I navigate raising my first pet (Hi, I’m Liv and I’m…a millennial), I’ve had ample time to give this some serious thought. Along with canvassing my fellow avocado-eating friends, I’ve been analysing the latest research regarding marketing to millennial pet parents – and this blog is set to be a humdinger. 

A deep dive into the emotional drivers of millennial pet owners, including my own, and what they are looking for in a brand…your pet brand, to be precise!

 

But first, the basics. Getting inside the mind of any market means understanding their emotional drivers. So what are emotional drivers and how do they relate to marketing

Millennial Pet Parents

Emotional Drivers

Every customer has an emotional experience when they encounter or interact with your brand. The general goal is to tailor that experience so that your customers leave feeling positive. Meaning they are more likely to return, keep on returning and be inclined to share this positive experience with others. To achieve this, we need to know what constitutes a positive experience for our ideal customer. 

In other words – what are millennial pet parents looking for in a pet brand? What are they seeking? What do they want, really really want (zig a zig ah)?

With most consumer activity, it’s useful to think of these drivers as ‘pain points’  – a specific problem or issue that your customers are facing. By honing in on these pain points, your service can be tailored to solve them. Leading to those all-important positive emotions. 

I feel these pain points acutely in the purchase decisions I make as a millennial, as do my peers. These emotional factors nearly always influence where and how we spend our hard-earned cash. A company that can alleviate, solve or take away these problems? They’ve got me hook, line and sinker!

 So what are common pain points to be aware of when marketing to millennial pet parents?

Marketing To Millennials Pets

Millennial Pain Points And Pet Marketing

Let’s dive into the research, reasoning and my own personal experiences on how emotions affect millennial purchasing behaviours. 

1) Millennials Want Connection 

Growing up in the first wave of the social media boom, millennials are keen on connection. We can see what our high school friends are doing now with every Facebook refresh, as well as what colour our celebrity crushes are painting their bathroom walls…(just me?)

This closeness may be a little artificial, but it’s something that’s become part of our everyday lives. It’s expected, anticipated and, for a brand, it’s become very appealing. 

In the past, retail was often a one-way street – it was about sales figures not follows, engagement or likes. Now, 82% of millennials regularly interact with brands on social media, and Gen Z is showing an even higher preference for these models. So if you aren’t connecting, you could risk getting left behind. 

45% of millennials now expect more engaging experiences with brands. We expect to be talked to, listened to and catered for. We want to feel part of the process and part of a community. Not just another customer number on an inventory list. 

Before my puppy arrived, I had already started following brands I was interested in using.  I enjoyed getting a sense of who they are and how they do business. I’m more likely, as are my peers, to choose a company I feel I can connect with and understand.

2) Millennials Want Reassurance

Out of sight out of mind, sadly, is hard to come by these days. 

Access to unlimited amounts of information has flipped global news to new levels of personal awareness. Conspiracy theories abound, climate change is very much visible and anxiety can come knocking with every click. Dish all that up with a side order of guilt and you’ve got a cocktail of worried humans. 

So what does that mean for marketing? Well, millennials want to try to be doing the ‘right thing’, whenever we can. 87% of us are more likely to purchase products with a social or environmental benefit, with 60% more willing to make a purchase if the company supports some type of cause. 

As a first-time pet owner, along with many other millennials, I am hungry for reassurance. Brands who know their stuff, work with experts and help share this insight really appeal to this self-development obsession. Helping us find our way through the noise, and feel like we are doing the best we can for our pets

3) Millennials Want Trust

In a similar fashion, trust is big for millennials. We didn’t invent the term ‘ghosting’ for nothing. Faced with the overwhelm of more companies to choose from than ever before, plus witnessing the public porky pies of some big brands being revealed – when we find something we can trust, we love it.

And what do we really love? Independents and small businesses. Most of us millennials associate the idea of small business with a sense of honour and trust. No wonder research suggests that 48% of us are more likely to buy from a brand if we feel like we know the people behind it. 

The great news here? Being a small pet business means it’s easier than ever to harness ways of marketing to millennial pet parents in a real, authentic and raw way. 

That’s because millennials trust people over corporations, reflected directly in the rise of influencer marketing and our obsession with word of mouth. 

Research suggests a whopping 71% of millennials report having praised a brand in-person to a friend or family member, with 60% having done so through social media also. If the millennial cohort believes in you they’ll make sure to let others know. Because bragging rights at the pub is pretty much our national sport!

Nearly all of my millennial peers will ask for a recommendation before buying a product or paying for a service. I have been bugging all my pooch-parent friends about what pet insurance providers they recommend. Which crates work the best? What are the best training treats to use?  

I trust these people, and their opinions, so if your business has impressed them? I’ll trust that your business will impress me too. 

Is there an easy way for businesses to tap into this trust? Yes – it’s called user-generated content. This is essentially your happy customers sending in or posting photos/videos of your product or service in action, or highlighting strong customer reviews on your website. These simple actions can have the same effect as a recommendation from a pal. We’re more likely to trust the recommendations of people just like us, who have no financial skin in the game but have obviously felt compelled to spread the word of how fantastic your product or service is.

 
4) Millennials Want To Feel Good

The young consumers’ hunt for stress relief is at an all-time high. 52% of millennials say they feel constantly stressed, with a large proportion wanting to take steps towards feeling better. Reclaiming our time in order to find ways to relax. So, unsurprisingly, pet ownership rates have soared. 

As a result, one of the biggest things that comes up in my own conversations, and research, is that millennials want their purchases to make them feel good – physically and mentally. 

 

As well as gravitating towards brands that give back, or align with our values, this also has a more practical side. 

 

It can mean more time spent with pets on new activities. Whether it’s hiking or trying a new dog sport, we want functional products that allow us to experience new adventures and make the most of our downtime outdoors. 

 

Brands that support health and wellbeing are sure to get our attention. Especially with our rising desire for this to extend to our pets, as we seek out natural ingredients, chemical-free materials and a calming influence from our pet products. 69% of millennial pet owners are more likely to consider products that use naturally-made ingredients over their mass-produced counterparts, versus 44% of owners over 35.

 

The ‘Treat Yo’Self’ mindset shows no sign of slowing down either, with a whopping 95% of 13-36-year-olds sharing that iterations of self-care play an important part of a healthy life. We buy into the idea of ‘little luxuries’ that are good for the soul, and we extend this to our pet parenting too. These romantic, indulgent overtones can work wonders for creating a loyal following. 

5) Millennials Want Quality Products 

The rise of minimalism, functional fashion and elite dog walkers is no coincidence. 

Research shows that millennials are willing to pay more for high-quality products, which is a departure from the buying habits of Baby Boomers (hello 1946  to 1964 babies!)

Millennials seem to want products and services that do better, are better and last longer. Showing strong preferences for the “Buy It For Life” mentality. 

In part, we’ve grown up in a challenging economy. But we’re also thinking of the future; we see that big changes need to be made to address the sustainability of how we consume. So buying well is important to us. Especially as we reach our full buying power and marketplace influence. 

On the other hand, we think a lot about what our purchases say about us and who we are. High-quality, reliable products speak to our goals for socio-economic status. 

We also look for dual purpose, space-saving items that work in smaller homes. Items that can double up, be tucked away neatly or serve a useful purpose are always king. Hands-free leashes and bike buddies that let us commute with our pets in tow are likewise highly attractive. 

We look for purchases that will stick around, stay the course and ride the potentially rocky future ahead. 

 
6) Millennials Want To Be Reflected

What do I think is the most important emotional driver?

Almost 60% of millennials say that the brands they buy reflect their style and personality. 

What can I say? Maybe we are a little narcissistic after all…

But what I think this really means is that in a sea of competition, overwhelm and never-ending choice, millennials want a brand that they can rely on. A brand that makes their life easy, boosts them up, makes them smile and gets them complimented. One they can share with friends, that reflects their place in the world. One that listens and responds. 

It can help to explain the high loyalty rates we mentioned in part 1 of this series too. Because if you impress us, we are here to stay. We like what we know, and we know if it’s good. 

By understanding and applying these emotional drivers, you will most meet millennials where they are at – perhaps the most important part of any marketing strategy. Understanding not only why they would buy from your brand, but why they would like to buy from your brand. Now that’s smart, savvy and sure to future-proof your business. 

We understand just how important it is to implement these strategies into your brand in an organic and authentic way.

Which is why we offer easy peasy, no-pressure strategy calls, to help with any queries you might have. Whether it’s how to build brand loyalty with your millennial market or to check if your social media is up to scratch. We can work some magic, just see. 

If you are really serious about propelling your online pet business into a secure and profitable future, then you’ll definitely want to check out the Profitable Pet Biz Programme too!