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Why brands should get to know pet supplement consumers

October 7, 2022
People running with dog

In a survey of 737 U.S. pet parents, 40 percent reported that they had purchased pet supplements in the past year. Getting to know the pet supplement consumer audience will help brands create compelling products and capture market share.

As U.S. consumers become increasingly focused on health and nutrition, they are now bringing their pets along for the ride. More and more, consumers are looking to pet supplements to boost their pets’ dietary nutrition or to support a particular need, such as joint health.

Pet supplementation is a diverse category that includes well-established products and ingredients such as fish oil for skin and coat health, and new and emerging formulations, like CBD for calming. It’s no surprise, then, that with a growing amount of attention being paid to product labels, many ingredients that appear in human supplementation have crossed over to pet categories.

We wanted to find out more about this intriguing market segment. In June 2022, as part of our ongoing research into pet supplement consumers, MarketPlace, a brand strategy agency focused on the pet and wellness spaces, conducted an online survey of 737 pet parents in the U.S. to ask them about their knowledge and experiences with supplements. Forty percent of them reported that they had purchased pet supplements in the past year.

We hypothesized that pet supplement consumers may have certain tendencies and preferences that are stronger or more pronounced than the average pet parent. This appears to be the case. Let’s dig more into what the data tells us about the people who buy supplements for their pets.

Health-minded information seekers buy supplements

Data from the survey shows that many consumers who buy supplements for their pets are also likely to seek out information proactively about nutrition. Among that subset of pet supplement consumers, 46% report having spent more than one hour in the past 12 months researching vitamins and/or minerals.

Veterinarians are an authoritative source of information on nutrition and wellness to both the average pet parent and the pet supplement shopper. Nearly three-out-of-five pet supplement consumers (59%) said they seek inspiration or information on their pets’ health and wellness from their veterinarian. Consumers are also somewhat more likely than average to report seeking pet health information via online search, through friends and family, and from posts on social media such as YouTube and Facebook.

Tellingly, preferences for certain information sources on pet nutrition strongly parallel preferences in human nutrition. Like veterinarians for pet nutrition, the personal physician is considered a top authoritative source of information on the personal nutrition of both pet parents and the companion animal supplement audience. According to our survey, 61% of pet supplement consumers seek inspiration or information on their personal health and wellness from their personal physician, compared to 55% for the average pet parent.

Pet supplement consumers are likewise turning to social sources – friends, family and social media –to inform their research into human nutrition. These findings suggest a multichannel approach to media and advertising strategy may be effective in creating meaningful touchpoints for the target pet supplement consumer segment and breaking through the ever-growing clutter of brand messaging found online and in retail stores.

Buyers prioritize need states and specific benefits

When shopping for supplements, need state drives purchase intent. Pet supplement consumers said they tend to seek a specific benefit first when shopping for such a product. According to the survey, those who buy supplements for their pets are likely to report having purchased skin and coat, joint health, or daily wellness applications in the past 12 months.

Calming occasions are also driving supplement purchases, especially for vet visits or inclement weather. Other top reasons for giving calming/anxiety-reducing supplements include travel, time at home alone, and outside noises such as fireworks.

The survey data also shows that people who give their pets supplements are also more likely than average to:

  • Agree that “organic” claims indicate high quality in food, treats, or supplements for pets.
  • Have bought pet dental care products or treats that promote health in the past 12 months.
  • Have heard of the microbiome and to have looked up information about the microbiome.

"pet supplement needs by state"

"pet anxiety supplement chart"

Target customers shop across channels, read reviews

To be successful in breaking through to their target market, brands must gain insights into how pet supplement consumers shop in-store and online, and better understand how they use media to get information that informs those shopping decisions. Our data suggests that pet supplement consumers have stronger-than-average tendencies when it comes to researching and shopping for their companion animals.

For example, those who buy pet supplements, on average, said they rely more on reviews before making a first-time purchase online or in-store. In fact, the data shows that pet supplement consumers use a variety of shopping channels and are much more likely than the average pet parent to report shopping on Amazon or Additionally, mass retail stores, pet specialty stores and pet specialty websites are important channels to this segment of pet parents.   

"pet health information sources"

"pet parents shopping behaviors"

Consumers practice intentionality and health-oriented lifestyles

Finally, brands will find value in looking at the psychographic profile and everyday lifestyles of pet supplement consumers. The pet supplement audience is highly likely to place importance on self-respect, positive relationships, security, a sense of accomplishment, self-fulfillment, and fun and enjoyment, the data demonstrates. Moreover, pet supplement consumers are more likely than average pet parents to dedicate time to their physical, mental and spiritual health.  

Getting to know the pet supplement consumer is an ongoing conversation. In many ways, the supplement consumer is very much like the average pet parent, but with a stronger tendency to seek out information on health and wellness from a variety of sources. Oftentimes, they know the specific benefit they want, but also want to be knowledgeable about what they are giving their pets.

Without a doubt, the pet supplement consumer audience presents a compelling opportunity. Brands that make the effort to cultivate insights into this group will be well positioned to go to market with compelling pet supplement offerings and capture market share.

I want to learn more about pet nutrition.