Pet Industry Bites The Digital Pie

Since the pandemic-induced lockdown in March last year, online consultations of pets and pet-specific e-commerce is gaining immense popularity

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The pandemic has opened up abundant opportunities for players in India’s pet industry. The demand for pets is more today than ever. With it, the demand for pet food, accessories, grooming products and toys is also on the rise. According to the report titled “India Pet Care Market Outlook, 2025”, by Bonafide Research, the Indian pet care market is expected to reach INR 5457 crore by the end of the year 2025. It will register a CAGR of more than 19 per cent.

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Today, there is also a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs to explore innovative business models in the space such as arranging pet-friendly vacations, pet gifts, consulting services, adoption services for street dogs, among others. We are also seeing the adoption of animals other than dogs and cats including birds, turtles, and tortoises. 

With increased digitization and the increase in the number of pet parents, the industry is also going digital, accelerated by various startups in the space including Heads Up For Tails, Supertails, Goofytails, Captain Zack, DoggieTheApp, DogSpot, TailsLife, Boneafite, Woofilicious, Fur Ball Story and many others. 

Online Consultations and E-commerce

Rashi Narang, founder, Heads Up For Tails, which is one of the oldest pet startups, said that she is seeing more digital-first businesses coming up in the space. “There is a lot of educational content available online now – understanding pet behavior, nutrition, grooming and so on. Narang launched the startup in 2008, inspired by her dog Sara, for whom she could not find any quality products. The startup today offers more than 5000 products and an omnichannel presence with its own website and 42 stores. 

“Almost everything except for physical examination has gone online. From grooming available at your doorstep on a click of a button to Vet on Call services to ordering pet diapers,” said Karan Gupta, founder, Goofy Tails, a D2C pets products brand started three years ago. 

Pet-specific e-commerce is becoming very popular, which has led to the premiumization and customization of products. “Further, while everything is available online, there are also specific needs that are catered to ranging from pet consults from online doctors to being able to find a pet sitter or dog walker for your furry friend. These services are not only accessible in terms of the pandemic protocols but also in terms of saving time and exploring larger avenues in being able to help a consumer in finding the best possible solution to their problem,” Mohit Lalvani, CEO and founder, Captain Zack.

Lalvani added that with the ladder to D2C becoming more disruptive and engaging, the digitization of the sector is one of the key developments that have been made and is an extremely potent way to reach out to a wider consumer base and audience and build community-driven brands that cater specifically to their patron programs. 

Overall, online vet and nutrition consultation, personalized pet products and services, driven by data and lifecycle, pet content, web series and movies, and shift from retail to D2C are some of the new trends in the space. 

Favorable Aspects

The pandemic has driven a lot of people into feeling lonely which has led to more pet adoptions and pet owners wanting to give their pets the best care possible. “The adoption drives have seen a significant increase in terms of people wanting to nurture someone and care for them and at the same time feel the joy of being loved by a pet, this has singularly filled the market with pet owners who want to provide their pets the best care possible without compromising on safety and quality,” said Lalvani of Captain Zack. 

The rise in disposable income has and will be a key contributing factor to growth. With nuclear families wanting pet companions, they today spend from INR 10,000- to INT 1,00,000 on the care of their pets and furry friends per month.

“I think that there’s also been increasing awareness that we can do better for our pets so the number of people looking for specific, quality pet products has gone up, which is promising,” added Narang of Heads Up For Tails. Another big trend that industry experts are seeing is the want of accurate information, which did not exist till now. 

Varun Sadana, co-founder, Supertails predicts more interesting trends going ahead. “The other trend we expect is GenZ being the market creator in this space. This generation is looking for companionship and we expect the dog adoption rate to increase upwards of 15 per cent. Lastly, we expect the packaged food market to grow further. This growth will be 2 pronged - the new pets will grow to be bigger with higher food requirements as well as the addition of new pets,” he said. However, the lack of legal compliances and laws, to ensure all pet products are safe, has made it easy for anyone and everyone to enter the domain. This unregulated growth poses a huge risk for pet owners and genuine pet startups.

Additionally, the biggest challenge entrepreneurs in the growing pet industry face would be the market competition, says Neha Aggarwal, co-founder, Petpixi LLP. "A lot of people are getting themselves indulged in such activities. Insurance of the workers is a must and yet important," she said.

Lack of well-organized veterinary centers beyond tier-1 cities, the absence of pet-friendly hotels and parks, the menace of unvaccinated, aggressive stray dogs and misinformation about pets on social media and other websites are some of the other challenges faced by the industry.

S Shanthi

Written By

Entrepreneur Staff

Shanthi specialises in writing sector-specific trends,  interviews and startup profiles. She has worked as a feature writer for over a decade in several print and digital media companies. She is also a mom who looks forward to playing a game of cards with her tween daughter every evening after work.