Pampered pets

How pet care is valued in the UK

Sabrina Fala

Over half of people in the UK own pets, while 44% of people do not. Among these pet owners, the most popular animals to own are dogs and cats. One in three pet owners in the UK own a dog, while more than a quarter own a cat. Other animals that people may own include rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, snakes and other reptiles. Since such an overwhelming amount of people in the UK have pets, Harris Interactive was interested in learning more about how highly pet care is considered amongst the nation. Click to view full results

In our research, we found that 59% of pet owners in the UK consider pet food to be as important a purchase for themselves and their family. One in ten reported they would cut back on their own food or buy cheaper food before compromising on food for their pets. Interestingly, women are significantly more likely to agree that pet food is as important as food they buy for their family, while men are more likely to believe that food for their family must take priority. It is safe to say that pets nowadays are valued almost as equally as any other household member. These changing attitudes towards pet care, as well as trends such as pet humanisation continue to contribute to the evolution of the pet care market and the desire for more premium products.

Furthermore, over half of pet owners know what food their pet likes and tend to stick to it. Of that segment, those aged 45-54 and 55+ are significantly more likely to continue buying the same pet food. Contrarily, over a quarter of pet owners like to try new pet food to keep things interesting for their pets, while 13% said they would like to try out new pet foods but can’t afford to. Those in the South West of England and London are significantly more likely to try out new pet foods, while majority of those that responded they can’t afford to switch things up were between the ages of 16-24.

Moreover, one in six pet owners feel that there is a good choice of pet food in the supermarket they use. However, those aged 16-44 are significantly more likely to consider the choice of pet food in their supermarket to be limited. A fifth of consumers consider the choice of pet food in their supermarket to be basic and wish they would stock more. Similarly, 18% said they can’t find the pet food they want in supermarkets, so they buy from specialist retailers instead. Pet food brands should aim to provide a variety of flavours in their options in order to capitalise on pet owners’ desire to provide excitement to their pets by offering new taste experiences.

Additionally, we asked people’s opinion on specialist diet needs for pets. Over a third of pet care owners do not feel that specialist diet needs for pets are taken seriously enough. Women are significantly more likely than men to agree with this. Conversely, 21% of respondents think that specialist pet food is expensive and a waste of time, and 25% believe that pet food should not mirror human diets. On the other hand, 19% of people believe that standard pet food is often poor quality, and are glad that more options are becoming available. In association with this point, an overwhelming 56% said they feed their pets human food as a treat occasionally, while only 22% said they don’t because they feel it is very unhealthy for their animals. Since majority of pet care owners deem a healthy diet as important for their animals, this area represents a real opportunity for pet food brands to continue to develop the range of specialist pet food available in the market. There has been significant diversification of the pet consumer base, which requires pet food brands to adopt a more segmented approach to the development and marketing of pet care products.

This poll was conducted for the grocer by the Harris Interactive online panel, the Harris Interactive Global Omnibus.

For further information about this study, please contact Umair Afridi | Business Development Manager | uafridi@harris


  • Harris
  • Pet Care
  • pet food
  • Pets
  • The Grocer