Households with pets continue to rise in Thailand, with the purchase or adoption of cats showing the strongest growth, followed by small dogs. One of the major driving forces behind this trend is urbanization, as the migration from rural to urban areas shifts people into high-rise flats and condominiums, particularly in Pattaya and surrounding areas.
The phenomenon of pet parents is becoming increasingly common as families see their pets as part of the family nucleus. According to Euromonitor International, this is resulting in pet owners applying their own purchasing habits when buying products for their pets, spending time with their pets for leisure, and including their pets as part of their personal social image.
Despite the Thai economy, people continue to spend more on their pets, says the research firm. Consequently, more pet shops are selling products that are marketed as “super premium” and purporting to have greater inherent benefits. These include brands that are organic, natural, raw, etc. Such claims are a common strategy in capturing the consumer base in Thailand, where a majority of consumers lack understanding in terms of ingredients and nutrition. In addition, dog-treat products from local players are seeing further development in terms of quality and offerings. Some are fortified and promoted as premium, thereby pushing prices upwards. The introduction of dog bakeries and home-based businesses for dog snacks is also contributing to this development.
Pedigree, Whiskas, Royal Canin and Purina are some international brands that have a deep-rooted presence in Thailand. Local pet owners trust these brands after many years of television and radio advertisements. However, Euromonitor points out, national local players have grown more aggressive in conducting marketing campaigns. Some provide pet shops with financial aid, others partner with neighborhood pet stores for promotions. For example, local brand Bastassia (Nutrix PCL) uses aggressive discount sales in pet shops to compete within the mid-priced range despite marketing itself as premium.
Internet retailing saw strong and stable growth in pet care over the past decade, and it remained the most dynamic channel in 2017. While hectic lifestyles have been the key driver, the development of internet platforms and infrastructure, as well as rising ownership of digital devices are the major factors sustaining growth. Third-party websites that specialize in pet care, such as PetPro.co.th and TailyBuddy.com have grown in popularity. Moreover, popular online shopping platforms such as Lazada.co.th and Orami.co.th offer a wide range of pet products, some of which cannot be found in online pet specialists.
Despite the economic slowdown, pet care is expected to continue flourishing as pet ownership is likely to improve and pet pampering becomes more prominent. Pet owners are expected to become more educated and sophisticated in understanding pet nutrition as internet penetration increases and information is more readily available both from online pet owners’ communities and manufacturer websites. Euromonitor International expects this to boost the growth of the premium segment for cat and dog food, while pet owners who previously fed their pets with unpackaged pet food are likely to switch to commercially produced pet food. Alongside this, internet retailing is likely to develop with many players and retailers cashing in on ecommerce and improving non-store-based services, including delivery.