People have been increasingly opening their doors to pets, and with that, their pocketbooks. Health of their furry companions is top priority, whether it be on veterinary care, premium pet food or supplements, particularly cannabidiol (CBD) pet products—and retailers have responded. Over the past year, 57 percent of pet specialty stores were selling CBD products, up from 45 percent in the previous year, according to Nielsen Global Connect, a division of Nielsen in New York.

The figure appears in a new report by Hemp Industry Daily, a division of Anne Holland Ventures Inc. The report, “Sector Snapshop: Insights on the Growing Market for Hemp-CBD Pet Products,” is in partnership with Nielsen Global Connect.

Overall, the market for CBD pet products jumped from almost zero in 2016 to about $25 million in 2019, according to the report. And this figure is only expected to increase. The market analytics company predicts the category will grow to about $40 million – $60 million in 2020, and by 2025, estimates that CBD pet products could generate up to $225 million in annual sales.

“The growth comes even as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which oversees pet foods and drugs as well as those for human consumption, has yet to authorize CBD for animals,” officials said in the report.

Earlier this year, Petco was the first major mainstream retailer to begin carrying CBD pet products, with PetSmart not far behind, according to the report.

“Mainstream pet stores will most likely try to carry the greatest assortment of products and formats, while independent or neighborhood stores will opt for differentiated products, including regional brands, that might not be available in major pet retailers,” officials said.

As the popularity of CBD pet products have increased, so have the options in where to buy them. In the U.S. and Canada, the top five retail channels where people are most likely to purchase CBD pet products are online pet stores (50 percent), veterinarian offices (43 percent), chain pet stores (42 percent), specialty CBD stores (34 percent) and independent pet stores (33 percent).

“Consumer choices for where they are able to purchase hemp-CBD pet products will be affected in the U.S. over the next year if the FDA does not issue favorable guidance supporting widespread distribution by veterinarians and in traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores,” officials said, further noting that veterinarians currently cannot prescribe or recommend CBD for animal use.

Pet owners are discerning about what particular CBD products they buy for their furry companions. The top five reasons pet owners buy specific CBD pet products: amount of CBD in the product (60 percent), quality (53 percent), no pesticides/herbicides used (52 percent), amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (43 percent) and whether its U.S.-grown (40 percent).

“Dog owners are more likely to be influenced [by the amount of THC in products] than the general consumer, but cat owners who give their pets hemp-CBD vitamins and supplements are significantly more worried about THC percentages in their products than are dog owners,” officials said. “Yet, cat owners are also 25 percent less likely than dog owners and general consumers to buy a hemp-CBD product containing zero THC.”

Least important drivers behind CBD pet product purchases: whether it contains cannabis-derived compounds other than CBD or THC, brand and packaging appeal.

“However, among the small group of dog and cat owners who say these factors are meaningful in purchase selection, they were extremely important,” officials said. “For example, cat owners who said the overall cannabinoid profile was crucial were 178 percent more likely to consider buying products containing other cannabinoids.”

The report also zeroed in on who is most likely to buy CBD products for their products. It turns out that women are more likely to purchase hemp-derived CBD pet products than men, and if the women are younger than 35, the likelihood increases.

Looking at the relationship with household-income, consumers on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale are more likely to have purchased CBD pet products even though they tend to be significantly more expensive than traditional products, according to the report.

“While the research did not identify a specific reason for this, it revealed that ‘young transitionals,’ consumers at the beginning of their careers, are the consumer group most likely to have purchased hemp-CBD products for their pets,” officials said in the report. “This cohort might have different spending priorities than older segments.”

Taking a look at cat owners, the report revealed that “young transitionals” along with “start-up” families with young children and “small scale’ families with one child or divorced families living in two- or three-person households are more likely to purchase CBD pet products.

“These groups might be more likely to own lower-maintenance cats than dogs if they live in apartments or small homes without a yard,” officials said.

Currently, according to the report, there is greater use of CBD products for dogs than cats, with 13 percent of dog owners saying they give it to their dogs regardless of whether they use it themselves. Only 4 percent of cat owners say the same, according to the report.

On average, dog and cat owners annually spend $24 and $21, respectively, on CBD products for their pets, according to the report.

“In both cases, purchase frequency is low primarily because many pet owners buy once and hold on to the item for some time, or in some cases, do not come back to the category,” officials said. “A key to increasing this would be creating repeat buyers for the products and/or increasing adoption of more frequent use.”

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