Pet Economy grows faster than “Human Economy”: a new opportunity in the post-covid China

Shilin Song China Digital News

The Pet Economy is one of the uprising industries in China despite the COVID impact and restrictions. During the 618 Mid-Year Sale in 2022, Tmall Pet Industry GMV (Gross Merchandising Value) grew by 19% compared to last year, reaching 2.7 billion CNY (~ 400 million USD). During the first 4 hours of the JD 618 event, the Pet industry GMV already surpassed the total GMV of the whole day last year. Chinese people are going through a change of mindset: pets become part of the family instead of just playmates.

During today’s article, we will discuss:

  • What is the typical pet owner persona in China? 
  • What are the new trends in Pet Economy in China?
  • Our insight on international pet food & appliances brands

Typical Pet Owner Persona in China

Typical Chinese pet owners are well-educated with high incomes while young and have few years of experience owning pets.  

  • Well-educated: more than 90% of the pet owners have a college degree; 9.5% have a master’s degree. According to the results of the seventh census, only 23.61% of China’s working-age population has a college degree or above. 
  • High income: more than one-third (34.9%) of the pet owners have a monthly income of more than 10k CNY. This means a higher consumption capacity.  
  • Young: 46.3% of pet owners were born after 1990, of which post-90s accounted for 23.4% and post-95s were 22.9%. In other words, among five pet owners, one is Gen Z.
  • Few years of experience: 2% of pet owners have kept pets for less than 3 years, and 19% of them have had their first pets in the last year.

Our Insight

The Pet Economy in China is still in its infancy compared to matured markets such as Europe or the US. 

Chinese pet owners lack experience and professional knowledge about pet care. Like a Chinese parent looking to buy milk formula from foreign brands, Chinese pet owners tend to trust foreign pet food brands, believing they provide better quality. 

It’s a good moment for foreign brands specializing in pet food, pet appliances, and other related industries to consider China your next expansion destination. 

News Trends in China’s Pet Economy

Pet Economy Grows Faster than “Human Economy”

In Chinese cities, the entire urban dog and cat market size reached 249 billion CNY (~36.9 billion USD), a year-on-year increase of 20.6%, 8% higher than the total retail sales of consumer goods in 2021. This trend also shows that the pet economy has had a huge driving effect on the consumption of Chinese society.

Pets Become a Family Member

For Chinese people, pets used to be a playmate for the kid or house guards. However, in recent years, especially during the pandemic, more and more people realize the importance of a pet’s companion, consider pets as part of their family, and will treat their pets as their children. 
As a result, Chinese consumers pay more attention to the health and well-being of their pets and are willing to leverage technology and smart devices. For examples, healthy and customized pet food brand The Farmer’s Dog; intelligent cat litter basin from CATLINK.

Cats Become the “TOP1” Pet in Chinese cities

In terms of numbers, cats have surpassed dogs to become the “TOP 1” pets for Chinese people living in cities. According to “2021 China Pet Industry White Paper”, there are 58.06 million cats and 54.29 million dogs in urban Chinese families. Families in lower-tier cities and rural areas tend to have more dogs as pets or guards. 

Since 2018, the number of cats has been growing steadily. Cats are easier to keep as a pet for young Chinese people living a fast-paced life in the cities and require less space, time, and attention than dogs.

Dogs Spend More Money than Cats

Regarding the “consuming capacity” of a single pet, a dog spends an average of 2,634 CNY (~390 USD) per year, with a 16.5% growth compared to last year. On average, a cat’s annual spend is 1,826 CNY (~270 USD), the same as last year.

With the fast-paced life and low birth rate, more and more Chinese people consider pets part of their family. Therefore, they are more willing to spend on pet medical care, better quality food, pet beauty, and physical and mental health. We predict that the Pet Industry in China will keep growing in the following years.

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