Consumers Consider Pet Supply Subscriptions as Essential as Household Items

Even as subscription rates falter overall, the robust offerings of pet supply subscriptions — plus the emotional attachment to beloved pets — have bolstered the segment’s margins.

Time and again, consumers make clear that people plain love their pets. From only buying the best to ridesharing apps and customizable meals, “man’s best friend” oftentimes gets treated more like the king of the castle.

These emotional ties have helped popularize pet-related subscriptions, as have these providers’ emphasis on feature flexibility — especially free shipping. As highlighted in the PYMNTS collaboration with, June’s “Subscription Commerce Readiness Report,” pet supplies are among the subscription industry’s top segments in consumer sign-up and retention, second only to household supplies. 

The below chart demonstrates pet supply’s popularity even as other segments struggle. Our researchers’ index assigns a score that synthesizes many factors to more easily compare subscription providers. Higher numbers are better, and that pet items, which are not necessarily limited to essential items, rank higher than other discretionary items such as clothing or beauty may in itself demonstrate Fido’s importance in consumers’ hearts.

Keeping customers subscribed month after month is an effort that should not be understated, especially as many consumers continue to limit spending to the essentials. Sitting with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster for the J.P. Morgan Payments Series: Global Innovators in Payments, CEO Brian Bogosian summarized consumer mood challenging the subscription space. “The bar continues to get higher. People’s budgets are getting squeezed. People aren’t spending money frivolously. If they don’t get value, if they don’t get flexibility, if they don’t get incentives to continue, they’ll drop off.”

Emotional ties can only go so far in budgeting for monthly subscriptions, however, and option flexibility is important for subscription-carrying consumers. As the below chart from the same report demonstrates, pet supply subscription providers score amongst the highest subscription providers in offering features consumers consider important. 

In a separate interview with Webster, Seth Goldman, CEO of floral and gifting subscription firm UrbanStems, discussed the benefits of offering every feature, flexible or otherwise, available to further customer retention. Goldman advocates this angle, even at the expense of some short-term costs. “It’s less about bringing the price down and more about ensuring that what we’re delivering has a strong value-to-cost ratio for that consumer. For us, that’s continuing to lean into the features that make it more accessible and easier to work with. It’s improving customer service and also pushing on that emotional side of what we do.”

As with gifting flowers, pet-related products carry an emotional angle key to the segment’s overall growth. Combining sentiment with offering features customers demand to stay subscribed may not be the easiest path to profitability. However, businesses that fail to balance emotions and flexibility may find their margins in the doghouse.