Fresh Owners vs. Familiar Owners: Pet ownership across the experience spectrum.

By Edward Otto, Junior Brand Planner

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But what about teaching old tricks to new pet owners? Interested ourselves, we at C-K wondered what type of experience gap exists between new and old pet owners.

Continuing our exploration of insights from our recent research study on pet ownership, American Pet Owners – September 2020, we’ve begun to uncover how years of pet ownership experience influences pet care decisions. We broke down pet owners into three segments: Novice (less than 2 years of pet ownership), Intermediate (2-10 years of pet ownership) and Expert (pet owners for 10+ years). While pet owners across the experience spectrum can agree that life gets better with pets, what do they disagree on? What do veteran pet owners value versus those who are just starting out?

For additional information on the wide range of insights uncovered in our recent research study on pet ownership, American Pet Owners – September 2020, reach out to Betsy Brown. To see what work C-K has done in the pet space, check out the recent work we have done for our clients, Cat’s Pride.

And continue reading below to learn more about the differences between Novice, Intermediate and Expert pet owners.

Life gets better with cats and better-er with dogs.

It’s no secret that pets make us happy. But do they bring us a better quality of life? Our research shows that they do. Expert pet owners, those with the most years of ownership under their belts, are significantly more likely than Novice pet owners to agree that their life is much better because of their pet(s). Our research also shows that dogs might be the better investment over time. Expert dog owners are more likely than Expert cat owners to say their life is better because of their pet.

Brand names are a guiding force for those less experienced.

As pet owners across the experience spectrum shop for pet supplies such as food, treats, toys, apparel and more, how much does brand name factor into their decisions? For Novice pet owners who may be new to buying pet supplies, brand name for a wide array of pet products is a very important factor in their buying decisions. However, with more years of experience, Intermediate and Expert pet owners factor in brand name most often when it comes down to what goes into their pets’ bodies (e.g., food, treats, medication) and cat litter while brand names of other pet supplies like apparel, toys and pet furniture are not very important.

Pet insurance is significantly more popular with new pet owners.

When asked whether or not they currently are paying for pet insurance for one or more of their pets, Novice pet owners are far and away most likely to be insuring their pet(s). On the opposite site of the spectrum, only a small number of Expert pet owners currently pay for pet insurance. As for pet owners who do not pay for pet insurance, the majority cite high costs (24.8%) and not knowing enough information (20%) as their top reasons for not considering it.

With food, health comes first for most – but not for all.

As we’ve just learned, pet owners across experience levels are passionate about what brand they feed their pets. But what is their primary goal with their pet’s food? Is it about buying what’s healthiest, or what makes their pet happiest? While the majority of average dog and cat owners tend to pursue the healthiest food options, Novice and Intermediate dog owners as well as Expert cat owners make up a small grouping of pet owners prioritizing pet food that makes their pet happy.

Only rookies have rules for their cats.

Training new pets is one the biggest investments of pet ownership. Teaching pets not to jump on the couch, eat food from the counter or tear up furniture has always been a chore. Given that they’re new to pet parenting, it’s no surprise that Novice pet owners are much more likely to agree that they set strict rules for their pet(s). What is surprising, however, is that a sizeable number of pet owners across all experience levels are completely lax on rules.

Novice pet owners are fiercely loyal.

It is certainly not news to hear that pet owners have a lot of love for their furry family members. But would pet owners ever be willing to end a relationship with a fellow human on account of their pet? The short and shocking answer, yes. In fact, our research shows that, on average, nearly 1/5 of pet owners have done so. Interestingly, new pet owners are significantly more likely to admit to doing this compared to just 20.6% of Intermediate pet owners and 10.4% of Expert pet owners.



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