More than ever, people are choosing to own pets. But why is that? Millennials, in particular, have had more reason in recent years to be frugal with their choices and overall expenses. This article explores what has occurred over the past few years that have significantly impacted the lives of millennials and how they are moving forward despite the changes that have occurred.
Current Events and Finances
In the past, the idea of the American family consisted of parents, children, and maybe one or two pets. Dogs, in particular, were there to protect the home or be working animals on farms, ideally. Yet, the image of the American family and pets in homes has changed. This change is not only due to natural shifts over time and new societal influences. Millennials have also been affected by the COVID pandemic and higher living prices compared to generations before.
Families worldwide reconsidered their home life and the world around them during the pandemic, particularly financially. One big financial cost that has been hit the hardest is whether or not to have children. Millennials - those between the ages of twenty-seven to forty-two and in the prime age for marriage and parenthood - are deciding to either have children later in life or not at all. For many, the choice to not have children is being replaced with owning a pet instead. This choice has made Millennials currently the largest pet-owning generation.
When COVID struck in 2020, there was projected to be another baby boom similar to the years following World War II. In a crazy twist, just the opposite happened. Birth rates are lower than they have been in years, and pet ownership has increased. Much of that directly correlated to the COVID pandemic, but there are other interesting reasons behind the surge in pet adoption. As mentioned before, the cost of living since the pandemic is much higher than in past years. Many people say that it is simply too expensive to care for children. Yet, Millennials don’t mind pampering their pets every now and then.
Not only has pet ownership increased, but how Millennials treat their pets has also changed. In an article by Kit Yarrow, a professor of psychology and marketing at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, she cites three reasons why pets are more pampered today than they have been in the past: Pets help people relieve stress, they are more part of the family and therefore treated as more of an equal member of the family, and they fulfill the need to nurture.
With the recent occurrences, it’s no wonder that people will do whatever it takes to relieve stress. Owning dogs brings joy and happiness to dog owners. It also gives people an excuse to get outside in the sun, take walks, and go on other adventures with their furry friends. People want a level of comforting companionship in their lives, along with a sweet and loyal presence. That is what has also added to the higher status of dogs in people’s lives.
When COVID hit, people had to stay away from each other, but at least they had their pets. More home time allowed for more time to devote to those pets, leading to pampering and spoiling. Many people work at least eight-hour-a-day jobs, not to mention have other social activities. Getting a break from society put a newfound focus on the main family, including the family dog or pet. This fact really opened peoples’ eyes to how much they missed out on before the pandemic. With normal life and socializing in person put on hold, social media usage saw a sharp increase - and pets became involved in that too!
Being shut away allowed for greater time spent finding new forms of entertainment. Such normal activities like going out with friends, movies, or anything outside the home were out of the question. In response, people’s time on social media increased. With technology, twenty-seven to forty-two-year-olds are more equipped to utilize it compared to generations before - for business and especially for fun. The subject of social media posts went hand in hand with the newfound time spent with pets, especially dogs, and the everyday funny things they get up to.
In addition, Millennials took to social media to display their pets. Some pets became so popular that they were labeled an Influencer. Some of the more popular dog influencers include Doug the Pug, Nika and Kira (Siberian Huskies), Jiffpom (Pomeranian), and Tucker Budzen (Golden Retriever). The most popular dog influencer breeds include mixed breed dogs, Pugs, Golden Retrievers, Chihuahuas, and Corgis. People still show off their pets in many ways and on various platforms!
Millennials are currently the largest generation as of this year, 2023. This statistic means that their decisions have significant impacts, such as on the pet industry. People buying more dogs, cats, and other pets has caused an increase in products needed from pet stores and online product availability. With pets having more prominent roles in their owner's life, people are ensuring the comfort and care of their pets - going so far as to pamper them. There are more pet-friendly hotels and accommodations for fun getaways and local parks with specific places for dogs and people to come together for exercise and socialization. These places make for great moments to capture and update on social media, which many Millennials do! They are taking the Internet by storm with their adorable fur babies, finding satisfaction in pampering those same companions, and choosing more and more to have pets by their side!