My Dog is Basically Barking for It

In the rising obsession with innovative ideas that combine industries with technological advances that make like easier it is no surprise that the pet industry has been tapped itself. Now I am not going to bore you with the silly statistics that state that an extremely high percentage of the population considers their pet to be part of the family, because in my opinion that percentage should be 100. I will say that according to the American Pet Products Association (yes this is a real thing) an estimated $72.13 billion was spent on pet products. This spend has been trending upward since 1994, making it a growing market that continue to gains traction. This spend is reflective of just the amount we are spending on our furry friends, but are some of the products and services really just for them?

First off, I have to start this off by saying that I am team dog and have been for years, I just don’t understand team cat. Growing up with a family dog I truly understand the saying “man’s best friend.” Social media has help to feed users’ dog’s obsession for those who don’t have a canine themselves. Take one scroll through Instagram and you are bound to see at least one account tied to the life of a dog. The obsession with these fun-loving animals partnered with technology has created some unique platforms, some merely adapted from other apps we all use. Take for example dog care apps such as Rover and Wag these pet platforms take some of the features and services of our apps like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb into the lives our barking pals. Both tech startups provide pet parents with on-demand dog walking, and boarding for yours pets. These companies are redefining the way kennels or pet hotels operate, as well as bringing dog walking and pet care into the gig economy. Both companies have experienced prosperous gains, healthy venture capital funding, and have battled each other in the marketplace. Does this at all sound familiar? Take a look at Uber and Lyft. The tale of two alike platforms continues as well, Wag and Rover are quickly learning that when it comes to dealing with people’s animals the bar can be set pretty high. The video below outlines the scrutiny Wag came under after allegedly tried to silence one owner of speaking to media regarding her lost dog Buddy. This quick report outlines how these PetTech companies have become an Uber like startup in pet care.

Interesting aside…

While researching pet tech and more about Wag I attempted to go straight to company’s website Wag.com. I was quickly brought to Amazon’s website where ads for pet supplies and pet food flashed on the screen. A banner ran across the page that read “Introducing Wag, by Amazon.” As a business student I am immediately impressed by Amazon’s quick and subtle use of domains. I cannot be the first consumer who was attempting find the dog walking app, but quickly found myself clicking around Amazon. This leads down a whole other path that goes beyond pet tech, but most certainly worth a call out.

Wag and Rover are the immediate platforms that come up when dealing with pet care, but there are pet based platforms one can find in the app store near you. In the 2017 Census report the government found that most of today’s young adults are delaying marriage and children. How does this tie into the adoption of pets? The adoption of pets by millennials has far exceeded that of baby boomers, yes you can summarize that this generation sees their animal as a starter child. There is no need to worry though platform technology is here one again to help change these stats. DigDates is a platform created to translate dog lover’s obsessions into love for one and another, providing connections and dates. So for you dog lovers who have used up all your swipes on Tindr or are just don’t want to readjust that range on Bumble again, this may be the app for you.

If you are millennial who considers your pet like a child it is no surprise that you would be will to spend money on a home monitoring systems that would allow you to interact and check on friend at home. Unfortunately we have yet to create a smartphone that would allow our pets to connect with us while we’re away from home, but for now products such as Furbo will do. This home security camera stands as tall as Amazon’s Alexa and allows pet parents to check in on pet via a webcam accessible on computer or smart devices. Furbo allows users to actually speak to the animal as well as dispense treats upon command. These cams retail for around $200, which to some may seem like a lot, but for those who consider your pet your child it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. Furbo is not the only pet cam on the market, but it has gained significant popularity due to celebrity endorsements and has created an established brand in the market.

There are many more products that have come to the market that make pet care easier, either through technology or platform creation. These are just a few products and services that have made their way to the market in recent years. What you will notice from all the above most of these services and products make the owners life easier with some added values for the pets. Is there a growing need for these products and services and will the rise continue? What are your thoughts on PetTech?

12 comments

  1. First of all, very glad to hear you are a fellow member of team dog (cats kind of scare me to be honest). I love my dog more than anything and honestly do see her as my child, and I know I am not alone in this. It makes a lot of sense that the more people are delaying marriage and children, the more they are considering their pets as their starter kids (in addition to the large quantity of families that do have kids but also consider their dog as part of the family). I know my parents often complain about the high bill every time they take my dog to the vet, but at the end of the day there pretty much isn’t anything we wouldn’t do for her, and I think companies taking advantage of this sentiment is very smart.

  2. Okay okay first off, enough cat bashing. One can be on BOTH teams. In any case, I believe some of these services provide outstanding value, like Wag. But some do not, like Furbo. Wag has the potential for tremendous customer retention, repeat revenue via subscription, etc. Furbo? Go to Best Buy and get something 20% less expensive. I feel like I often see this conundrum in industries “disrupted” by tech. Maybe it’s because capital is so easy to come by when you sell investors on a relatively untapped vertical. When the bubble bursts, I’m long on a company like Wag.

  3. dilillomelissa · · Reply

    There is absolutely a need for pet products and services! You’re so right in that the delay of people getting married and having kids today actually results in the greater adoption of pets. I can’t speak for everyone, but myself and many of my friends are exactly in this spot. As soon as I graduate and have my life a little more situated in a new apartment, my plan is to adopt! On some level it seems like a trail run before having kids (very far in the future). As far as the dog walking service Wag, I am a big fan overall. I actually love dogs so much that I applied to work as a dog walker for Wag during my first year of my MBA Program. Apparently Boston’s market is already too saturated and there was no room for me to do so, unfortunately. I’ll be re-applying after my move upon graduation! There are of course risks with the app, but that’s the same risk we take with Uber. There’s a lot of room for growth in this industry. People would do just about anything for their pets. I can’t wait to be a dog owner!

  4. In a previous class, a student did her presentation on one of these companies (there may even be a blog with the followups somewhere on here). She was a dog walker, but didn’t necessarily have a great experience. Not enough walkers/owners in the market to really be sustainable.

  5. This post hits close to home as my parents are just two of the many who have cameras in the house to check in on my dogs. At first it thought this was a little much, but now i love it when my mom sends pictures of my dogs sitting by the door waiting for someone to come home. But it’s not just cute, the tech you mentioned are really useful too. These technologies offer pet owners a lot of independence. I can’t even count the times i’ve had to change or pass up plans when I was home and my parents were away because there would be no one else to feed and walk my dogs at a certain time. Had I used an app like Wag (totally not surprised Amazon is behind this) I could have had a lot more autonomy. and yes, #teamdog of course!

  6. Team dog. As someone who follows dozens of dog accounts on Instagram, many with thousands of followers, I am surprised I haven’t seen any of these apps/technologies advertised through these pages. I can definitely see the growing need for these products and services continuing, but it has to be close to its plateau within the next decade or so right? Maybe once pets can see their humans as holograms is when we hit that plateau. But the ability to speak to and dispense food to a pet with the touch of a button is impressive. Great use of external links/sources!

  7. It’s definitely an interesting market! I don’t have a dog or cat unfortunately since I’m allergic, but I have definitely been intrigued by all the new apps and gadgets that are out there. There’s definitely a market for pet owner’s and I would probably segment it in two ways: 1.) animal care & 2.) away from home interaction. I think the away from home segment will be developing significantly in the near future with even more gadgets to come to help pet owners not only engage with their animals digitally when they can’t be there physically, but also help them get that same level of experience: the comfort, the relief, the joy. Obviously, the market for pet owners isn’t the hugest market in the US, but it’s definitely still a worth while slice of the pie, that shouldn’t be over looked. I’m looking forward to what’s next, a human controlled robo dog to play with your pal? Maybe an RC toy with a camera and speaker? The possibilities are endless, and most pet owners I know, will spend significant amounts of money for their own enjoyment of watching their pets play and be healthy.

  8. Barkytech.com is a brand new digital media property that is focused entirely on pettech and pettechnology. So, I guess we’re pretty bullish on the Pettech industry! We’re just getting started so watch for more from us soon.

  9. Obviously team dog…not even a question. I love pet tech and find it all really funny for some reason. We got my beagle an automatic pet feeder in the early days of pet tech, and it played a recording of my dad calling her for dinner…funny stuff. I’m honestly not that surprised by how much is spent on pet care/products, they really are a part of the family and people always seem to be willing to spend money on them. I’ve been watching videos of dogs with go-pros recently so a camera in my house to keep up on what my dog is doing sounds great. There are a lot of really cool devices coming out, I saw a video for a product where you can say hi to your dog and give them a treat when you are out of the house for the day, and it’s all done through your smartphone. The world of connectivity has gotten to a point where there’s no reason we should be able to connect with our pets as well. It’s a very interesting field and I’m sure we’ll see some more wacky gadgets come out in the future. I really enjoyed reading this, great post!

  10. Pet care is such an interesting market and obviously, as you have mentioned, one that has seen a massive amount of growth recently. My first thought was that this seems like an industry to me that could suffer greatly during a recession, (paying other people to walk your dog for you seems like it would be one of the first expenses to go in hard times) but as you mentioned, pets are being treated more like children these days than they ever have been before. It’s so interesting how society is adapting to that. You have companies with terrible maternity and paternity leave & benefits, but that will allow you to bring you dog into the office? So warped, but as a dog lover, who’s not planning to have kids any time soon, I’m not complaining …for now!

  11. Before I get into my comment, I just want to note that I am also team dog. As someone who considers their dog one of the most important parts of my life, I found this to be a really interesting post. Luckily for my family, there’s almost always someone home with our dog, so we haven’t had the need to utilize any of the technologies that you mentioned, but I understand they could be of great benefit to people with very busy lifestyles. I have a friend that works for Wag as a dog walker to take up some of the free time that she has and she can’t say enough good things about it. When the times comes, she’d like to have a dog of her own but for right now she’s happy to spend some time a few days a week with the different dogs she walks through Wag. To your point of people getting dogs before having children, I think Wag can act as a way for dog walkers to see if they are prepared to care for a dog of their own through their experiences of caring for those of others.

  12. My dog is my first born son for sure! haha, great article. As a pet owner I definitely spend and care for my dog more than I do myself. Making sure there is always an extra weeks worth of food, a doctor on call, and something to entertain him. I love that you touched on the current availabilities, but I too would like to see even more. Personally, I have not had great success with Furbo or similarly with trying to FaceTime. I can only imagine the market for animal based FaceTime tool that your pet could conceptually understand and interact with for business professionals who often have to be away from home more than the typical 8 hour work days.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: