Friday, July 24, 2009

Pets USA

The American Pet Products Association ( reported this year that 62% U.S. Households (roughly 71.4 million homes) own a pet. U.S. Census indicates 46 percent of U.S. Households credited to the aging of population and fertility patterns changes have a child under 18. Pets are replacing kids, thus have a new role in society.

Read On:
Thanks to the pet ownership boom, it is estimated that $45.4 billion will be spent by pet owners on everything from food, supplies, vet care, grooming, etc., making pet-spending one of the top ten retail segments, bigger than toys, candy or hardware. No longer are people buying regular pet food. Instead they are purchasing gourmet, vegetarian, low-carb and organic food for their animals. Superrich dog owners then use pet teeth-whiteners, breathe fresheners before they put on designer sweaters/jewelry prior to putting their companion in a special car seat for a ride over to their local grooming salon. Yes, thanks to pet pampering, numerous services have cropped up, everything from doggy/feline daycare, luxury hotels in lieu of kennels with the latest trend being the launch of Pet Airways ( where owners fly their pets in comfort so they can rendezvous with them at their favorite vacation spot.

As I reported in my last blog, pet owners are even taking to social media to connect with other pet fans, learn about products and services via blogging. There are numerous pet training blogs with tips from masters and amateurs, as well as recommended weight loss programs. Even blogs, like Romeo the Cat have been developed to raise money to help shelter animals find appropriate homes.

In the past, kids where utilized as an emotional anchor in advertising. Now look for pets, specifically dogs placed in non-pet orientated traditional media to play on consumers emotions. I remember the Michelin tire ad with a baby sitting in the middle of a tire communicating family safety. Recently I viewed two ads on television – Travelers Insurance and Bud Light Lime that used dogs in spots normally void of pets. Cannon was one of the first companies to pioneer this advertising strategy with Martina Sharpova and her dog Dolce for PowerShot cameras. Remember? YouTube links: (,

Marketing gurus take note – in the future 441.8 million pets will be influencing America’s pet loyal consumers and their purchasing power.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Man’s Best Friend

Move over Lassie. I hate to deliver the bad news, but you are no longer man’s best friend. You have been replaced by the cell phone.

Read On:
It is estimated there are currently 263 million plus U.S. wireless subscribers of which 203 million are text messaging. Lassie, there are two other dynamics that are now coming into play here in Mobile U.S.A. You need to understand this as you take to the back seat as man’s best friend.

The first being text messaging which now outpaces the number of phone calls made on a monthly basis. According to the Nielsen Company’s latest estimates, 57 percent of all mobile subscribers 13 and older use text messaging on a regular basis. On average people text message 357 times a month compared to making 204 calls. No surprise that the 13-17 year olds led the pack with 1742 texts versus 231 calls.

The second factor will be the continual evolution of smartphones. Despite our recession burden economy which has caused a decline in mobile phone sales, nearly a quarter of all handsets sold in the 4th quarter of 2008 were smartphones, a significant increase (13%) versus the same period 2007. Remember these sales figures were recorded prior to the June 2009 release of Apple’s new iPhone and Palm’s Palm Pre. Lassie, man’s social expectation of always being connected is driving this phenomenon. Thanks to the advances in location based mobile services and applications, the rise of social media/networking, man is slowly becoming surgically attached to his mobile device of choice, his new best friend.

Implication: Mobile marketing is exploding. Consumer behavior will continuously be tracked as people move from site to site – restaurant reviews, checking out the latest baseball scores, booking airline tickets, etc. Short codes, marketing messages sent via text messaging (e.g., promotions) will be popping up on mobile screens everywhere in Mobile U.S.A. Right now mobile marketing is a $2.8 billion dollar industry that by 2011 will grow five times to $14 billion.

The good news Lassie, pet marketers are now using social media/networking to help connect owners to pets, pets to owners and pet products to both. So man’s old best friend is still an important partner in life, a topic I will address on my next blog, Pets U.S.A.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

No Vacation Nation

American celebrates another birthday Saturday. The Fourth of July, Independence Day is generally associated with parades, barbecues/picnics, fireworks and for some lucky Americans the beginning of summer vacations. I say lucky because we have evolved into the “No Vacation Nation.”

Read On:
U.S. News & World Report recently published that 35 percent of all workers will not be taking a vacation this year. Of those that will not be taking a vacation, 71 percent explained outright they just could not afford a vacation. More unbelievable, 20 % of the U.S. work force indicated they feel guilty taking a vacation, were at risk of losing their jobs or would be bypassed for promotion.

The underlying point here is American vacations are vanishing. Only 14% of American currently gets a vacation of two or more weeks as annual leave benefits have been evaporating like pensions. According to government survey data, the average American only receives approximately nine days of paid vacation and six paid holidays per year. The primarily factor being that the United States, unlike 127 other countries in the world, has no minimum paid-leave law. In comparison, Europeans lead the pack with four to five weeks, Australians have four weeks, and even the Japanese have two weeks by law.

The good news – in May, Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) with the support of the advocacy group, Take Back Your Time (,
introduced the first paid vacation bill in U.S. History. The Paid Vacation Act of 2009 will stipulate paid vacation for companies and their employees. However, referencing the U.S. News & World Report Statistics, I noticed that 28 percent of workers taking vacation this year plan on contacting their offices at least once, and 50 percent of employers expect their employees to check in.

Seems like we are now down to long weekends in our great "No Vacation Nation."

In closing, today’s blog entry is the first in a series I will post this summer under the umbrella theme – What’s Next U.S.A.? I will address numerous trends that will shape (impact) our country’s next decade. They are as follows:

- Man’s Best Friend
- Pet U.S.A.
- Vampires
- Brain Drain