Are Millennials Really Choosing to Have Pets Instead of Children?

The rise of the fur babies is underway.

Nearly ninety percent of single Americans and 91 percent of Americans in committed relationships view their pets as de facto children, according to new research from J. Walter Thompson Intelligence (JWT). 

And the demographic most likely to own pets is Millennials. Millennial men, to be precise. 

Here are a few figures from the pet industry

> 7 in 10 Millennials have a pet
> 56% have a dog while 36% are cat people
> Men are more likely to be pet owners (76%) than women (68%)
> 67% see the pet as part of their family (using the affectionate term ‘fur baby’)

It’s big business too. 

JWT reports that the global pet care market will reach a staggering $202.6 billion by 2025. And brands are seeking to cash in.

Millennials have disposable income and a love of luxury, personalised products and experiences. And they’re spending more on their furry companions than previous generations.

Photo by Glenn Han on Unsplash

What are Millennials spending money on? 

They are making decisions around where to live. High-end city-centre flats are offering luxury amenities like:
> pampering sessions at a grooming spa
> an on-site vet clinic
> day care and home sitting
> mid-day dog walking

For people in the suburbs or rural communities, they want homes with gardens or nearby parks. They want utility rooms or shower rooms for use after muddy walks. And it helps to have fewer stairs for older pets. 

A survey in the US showed that ‘79% of pet-buying homebuyers would pass on an otherwise perfect home if it didn’t meet the needs of their pets.’

As diets change for humans, many people are passing these changes on to their pets. Human-quality food made without chemicals or fillers is now standard. And some people are even switching their pets to plant-based diets. 

And let’s not forget the toys, the clothes, the activity monitors and even Pawsecco, a non-alcoholic wine for the next dinner party or birthday celebration. Where there will be cake.

Are Millennials Really Choosing to Have Pets Instead of Children?
Photo by Chewy on Unsplash

Why are Millennials choosing pets over children?

The existing commentary points to a few possible reasons: 
> Having pets are cheaper than raising children (£17,000 over the life of a pet vs £102,000 over 18 years of a child)
> Living child-free does provide more freedom and spontaneity
> Pets provide a pretty good return on companionship and affection 
> Pets may offer couples practice for their parenting styles
> With uncertainty building around climate change, some people may be choosing a child-free life

As cultural norms shifts, the pressure to have children isn’t as great. That means Millennials are able to make decisions that are authentic to themselves and align with their values. 

And isn’t that what we all want?

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