The Growth of Pet Services, Part 1
While it’s no secret that the pet products’ space has been viewed as attractive for quite a while (look no further than Nestlé’s reported pending acquisition of Champion Petfoods for approximately $2 billion), pet services have increasingly garnered attention and affection from sophisticated players due to its attractive macro dynamics, and in part as a means to “Amazon proof” a business model. Consistent with the humanization of pets, a host of services stands ready to serve these four-legged friends and their human parents. Offer a human service, wait a few years, and voilà, you’ll likely find the equivalent service for pets.
Institutional and strategic capital is “flocking” to the industry, broadly speaking. The pet services’ space (includes grooming, boarding, walking, training, pet sitting, exercise and yard services) was estimated domestically to be $6.11 billion in 2017 an increase from $5.76 billion in 2016 and growing at 6.3% a year, significantly more than the rate of any other pet category. Globally, the same is trending in Europe, Pacific Rim Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and Brazil, among others.
Services run the gamut from marketplaces (geared towards pet sitting and walking), to location-based services (daycare, hosting, grooming, spas) to death services’ business.
Let’s examine one of these spaces in more detail . . .
The dog sitting space, particularly several marketplaces dedicated to pairing pet parents and providers, has attracted a great deal of attention and capital. A recent APPA survey indicates that 35% of all dog owners, and 67% of all cat owners, reported the need for some use of pet sitters over the prior 6 months. With nearly 89.7 million dogs in approximately 60.2 million households, and nearly 94.2 million cats in approximately 47.1 million households in the U.S., that aforementioned 35% and 67% add up. The U.S. market for dog walking and sitting services is estimated at $2.3 billion and is growing at 3.1% annually. Most notably, Rover.com (which merged with its large competitor DogVacay in March 2017) and Wag.com have achieved significant prominence in North America. Rover.com/DogVacay has raised over $310 million to date, while wag.com has raised over $365 million, including a recent infusion of $300 million from SoftBank.
This phenomenon is also playing out globally, with several rapidly growing services in Western Europe such as DogBuddy, Holidog.com, serving as prime examples. While many of these models have yet to achieve profitability (challenges have included: demand that outstrips supply – a common phenomenon in emerging marketplaces; customer acquisition and retention; and lack of national brand awareness), they are the clear market leaders and, much like other marketplaces (e.g., Airbnb, Uber), it seems likely that large markets will support one or two large players with smaller players perhaps finding a space in hyper-localized, or hyper-niche areas.
Look for the continuance of “Growth of Pet Services” when we explore location-based pet care/pet hosting, grooming and pet death services in more detail.
Sources: American Pet Products Association; Crunchbase