When Satish Cadabom recently brought a pair of Korean Dosa Mastiff pups, it hit the headlines — for the Rs 2 crore he shelled out for them. He spends another Rs 30,000 a month on food and care. “Expensive breeds are in high demand,” said Satish, who has been a dog breeder for 20 years, adding that the demand for pets is on the rise.
Statistics agree. A study by Euromonitor International says the Indian pet-care market, at Rs 1,394 crore, has more than doubled from Rs 538 crore in 2011. The growth between 2014 and 2015 itself was about 26%.
But what is more interesting is the growth in e-commerce in the pets and pet-accessories business. Though it currently accounts for less than 1% of dog food value sales, digital sales are on the verge of an explosion, industry sources said.
“A pet is a like kid. People love to show them off,” said Rana Atheya of Dogspot.in, an online portal, which in January raised investment from Ratan Tata. “Pet population is growing at 25%, and most of the companies are also witnessing 30% to 35% growth.
“The Indian market is still less than half of the size of that of Portugal,” said Damian Shore, analyst at the Euromonitor. The international market was worth about Rs 6.7 lakh crore in 2015, but it grew only about 3.5% between 2011 and 2015. “With a strong economy and attitudes to pets changing fast, this explosive growth is set to continue.”
According to Binny Pappachan of Petcart, an online platform, the consumer engagement is highly important in this segment, compared to other e-commerce platforms. “About half of the customers call us back due to our expertise,” he says. The company has also opened a physical store in Bangalore.
Dheraj Gambhir of Petsworld says there is a trend of “humanisation of pets”. “People love buying cloths, and other accessories for pets. For instance, we sold more than 7,000 dog beds last year, compared to about 1,000 in 2014.”
Awareness is a challenge: it is easy for a disgruntled customer to spoil the image of a company on social media after to a poor experience.
So companies are spending a lot of attention and time, using blogs and other means, to spread awareness about their products, aspects of pet-care like buying the right breed, giving right food and animal health issues.
Atheya of Dogspot.in says the company focuses on community building and customer engagement than marketing and advertising.