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Pet Premiumisation & the German Market



With nearly 83 million of the world's wealthiest consumers, Germany is by far the largest economy in the European Union which offers a large and promising pet market. There are over 37 million pets and over 6 billion euros spent on our beloved animals each year. Pet stores and grocery retailers in Germany enjoyed sales growth of 6% in 2021 with a further 1.055bn euros generated by online sales.


Even though cats still come out on top (over 13 million households in DE own a cat) the growth of dog owners in Germany are increasing at a significant rate, with 10.7 million dogs in 21% of households, which is the highest pet dog population in the European Union.



What are the top trends in Germany?


Sales of pet requisites and accessories in stationary stores amounted to 1.101bn euros in 2021, an increase of 4.6% compared to 2020. As in previous years, cat litter accounted for the biggest share of sales, which increased by 4.5% to 305 million euros. Canine accessories topped the sales growth list, with sales rising by 6.7% to 240 million euros.


Pet Humanisation

As the nation becomes more health-conscious, the demand for nutritious pet food is rising. 69% of German pet owners agree that purchasing more nutritious food is as important for their pets as choosing their own food. That's not all, over 75% of German pet owners treat pets as much as they would a child and will spend just as much on dog apparel, food, and accessories as they would on friends and family. This is even more apparent since the COVID-19 pandemic where remote working has resulted in pet owners spending greater time with their four-legged friends.


The legislative changes in Western Europe in favour of animal rights will further influence the perception of pets. For instance, in 2022, Spain implemented joint custody of pets for couples following separation or divorce.


Pet Spending Habits

As more of us treat our pets as part of the family, it will come as no surprise that we spend more. According to a survey conducted by the German Pet Trade and Industry Association (ZZF) in 2020, Germans spent around 4.4 billion euros on their pets in 2019.


The size of dogs are getting smaller

Ownership of smaller dogs are becoming increasingly popular across Germany. According to the German Kennel CLub (VDH), the number of registered Chihuahuas and French Bulldogs increasing by over 60% and 80% respectively, since 2011. This trend towards smaller dog breeds may be due in part to their lower maintenance requirements and suitability for apartment living, which is common in urban areas of Germany.


Retail trends

The convenience of online shopping has become increasingly prevalent since the pandemic. The Euromonitor International's Voice of the Consumer; Lifestyle Survey 2021 revealed that 1/3 of consumers under the age of 45 buy products for their pets via their smartphone. In 2022, the online retail sales of pet supplies in Germany accumulated over €1.86B, an increase from €1.75B the year prior. Fressnapf, the largest pet retailer in Germany, reached €3.5B sales in 2022 - it's no surprise Germany holds the top European spot for pet sales. Chain stores such as Fressnapf, Futterhaus, and Zoo & Zo continue to dominate the German pet market. Speciality stores increased their sales of pet requisites and accessories to 875 million euros and remain the main sales channel in this segment, accounting for 79% of sales.


Sustainability

The pet care industry is increasingly focused on sustainability, which has become a prominent topic. Consumers are demanding sustainable products, which in turn creates opportunities for innovation. Since the pandemic, consumers are even more concerned about climate change and their environmental impact, and are therefore more likely to buy more sustainable products and support purpose-driven brands. This indicates a significant level of consumer interest and support for the sustainability movement in pet care.


What are the global trends in dog accessories?


The market for dog accessories is constantly growing and evolving. Harnesses are becoming a more popular choice for walking dogs, resulting in a high growth rate in the harness market. As double-ended leads have become popular, harnesses are seeing the addition of a second attachment point on the chest strap. This offers better control by reducing pulling on the lead, as well as reducing pressure on the neck area - which may arise from using a collar alone.


Certain types of leads help to make walks easier and more enjoyable. The retractable flexi-lead, invented in 1972, was welcome for providing dogs with more freedom while owners retained some control over them. But despite their popularity with dog owners, over the past few years there has been growing concern in the dog industry about their safety due to mechanical failure and injuries. This has resulted in a variety of alternatives such as 'long lines' which can range from 3-12 meters or more.


But it's not only style that is important; 'awareness' leads, collars, and harnesses are another recent trend, in which yellow is often used to identify dogs who need space or are anxious (My Anxious Dog UK, 2023). Pet owners note that their own anxiety decreases when their dogs wear such accessories.


What does this mean for Ruffwear?



The size of dogs are getting smaller

Ruffwear have recognised the demand for products that fit smaller dog breeds. As a result, the Hi & Light™ Collection have been designed with the smaller dog in mind. Ranging from size XXXS up to L/XL, this collection suits a wide variety of dogs throughout their lifetime.


Ruffwear have also made the strategic decision to support additional sell-through by re-positioning the price points of the Hi & Light™ Harness. In an unprecedented move for Ruffwear, the prices will also be adjusted by size. The implementation of a tiered pricing structure will enhance the visibility of Ruffwear and expand the reach to a broader range of consumers.


Sustainability

At Ruffwear, sustainability is at the heart of their business. Their definition of success involves recognizing their responsibility to the community and the planet, which means conducting business in a way that maximizes positive impact while minimizing our ecological footprint. As part of this, they regularly review and enhance their products and practices to ensure they are doing as much good as possible.


" From the very beginning with our Quencher™ Bowl, it's been about building quality product. Product that meets a need, resonates for humans and their dogs, and does so in an elegant way. This is the foundation we're built on. Gear that's built to last and stay out on the trails rather than in our landfills.


There are always opportunities to improve, look at how and why we do things, drive out waste and make decisions to reduce our impact. This challenge excites me. And it's taking on these challenges that will help them change the industry."

- Patrick Kruse, Founder


The quality of Ruffwear products is paramount. They choose fabrics and hardware that have been tested in the field, are environmentally friendly, and last the test of time. They have been partners with very skilled factories for decades, with a team in Vietnam dedicated to ensuring their manufacturing is on point. Ruffwear are so confident in the quality of their gear that in the unlikely event that something does go wrong with your product, they will work to make it right by offering a guarantee against defects in materials and craftsmanship.


Global Trends


Many no-pull harnesses are very restrictive across the front legs. They often have a strap that sits lower and horizontal across the front legs where the lead attachment point is also lower. A Y-shaped harness goes through the front legs, but sits below their neck and above the shoulders meaning they don't restrict your dog's shoulder movements in the same way that some horizontal chest harnesses again. Some Ruffwear harnesses also feature a chest loop attachment which sits at a higher point on the chest over the sternum. This allows dogs to have a full range of motion and enables them to move much more naturally, whilst you still have control over pulling.



What does this mean for you?


By stocking Ruffwear, you can cater to a diverse range of customers who take part in a variety of activities with their dog. Ruffwear's performance dog gear combines performance, quality, fit, function, and safety to allow active and adventurous canines and their humans to live their best lives outdoors whether this is walking, running, biking, hiking, camping, skiing, or on the water.


Ruffwear appeals to entry level consumers, those seeking gear for smaller dogs/puppies, environmentally conscious consumers, and those who value reliable and long-lasting products for their pets.



Sources:

IVH Industrieverband Heimtierbedarf

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