Caring for “Fur-Babies” in a thriving pet world

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BabelBark provides the world’s only digital platform connecting pet parents, veterinarians, pet businesses and shelters

More than any other generation in history, the Millennials are leaving a mark on everyone and everything that touches their lives. The one crucial point that distinguishes them from everyone else, is that they were the first generation to grow up with the Internet and the smartphone. As American business leader, Brad D. Smith, said, “This generation (Millennials) has grown up with computing in the palm of their hands. They are more socially and globally connected through mobile Internet than any prior generation. And they don’t question, they just learn.”

It is a trait that touches not just their professional lives, but also their most personal and human moments. When seeking answers to what matters to them most, in many cases, Millennials by having the facts at their fingertips, decide to postpone matrimony, choosing instead to have a pet to love, than get weighed down by the cost and hassle of marriage and family.  And so, according to recent survey by TD Ameritrade, Millennials comprise 35% of all pet owners, which amounts to being  the largest demographic segment owning pets in the U.S.

Therefore, it is no surprise that the pet care industry is booming, according to recent market research, currently thriving as a $225 billion business, with North American sales expected to reach $281 billion by 2023. Furthermore, many young people in the 20-36 age group, look upon their pets not just as loving creatures to come home to, but as “starter children,” to give them practice on handling their own kids in time to come. Mollie McGill and Patrick Sullivan, both in their late twenties, have a two-year old dog, and they have celebrated every milestone of her life, from birthdays to obedience class graduations. They said, ““We think that because we treat Cooper like she is a child, we’re inherently prepared for one. Most of the traits we’ve acquired over the last 18 months are those that parents develop as well. The research, the planning, the worrying, the borderline obsession with this living thing and the overwhelming amount of love you feel for them.”

Just like Mollie and Patrick, thousands of other pet parents agonize over their pets’ food, hygiene products and keeping them healthy. They rush from food store to veterinarian, wondering how to handle it all with the pressures of daily life.

It was no different for Roy Stein and Bill Rebozo, two software engineers who loved their dogs.

“We were planning an extended vacation, but we were so worried about leaving our dogs with sitters, “said Roy Stein, Founder and CEO of Babelbark.

Stein and Rebozo both had extensive experience in technology, product development and marketing. Wondering how to make use of their skills to resolve their problem, they decided to create an app called BabelBark to assist their dog sitters. This was in early 2015. The app was an immediate success and everyone who came to know it, loved it.  Stein and Rebozo knew they had a winning product, and decided to make available to the pet-caring world.

Envisioning a wider spread of focus for their app,  Stein and Rebozo worked on it diligently, and today, Babelbark is a pet-suite, the only horizontal digital platform in the world for the pet industry, allowing pet parents, veterinarians, pet businesses and shelters to come together on one platform to provide the best possible care for pets.

Stein and Rebozo say that Babelbark has over 650 pet businesses connected to over 200,000 pets, growing at a high rate independently. They are proud that the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has chosen Babelbark “as the exclusive vet-pet platform until December 2021, for 4400 clinics.”

The need of the app is apparent in the context of Millennials, with 67% of them considering their pet as part of the family, their “fur-babies”,   pampering them like their first-born babies.

According to Nielsen, a global, independent marketing research company, annual household spending on pet food among pet owners increased 36% between 2007 and 2017. With most pet parents opting for expensive food for their pets, a wave of new premium pet foods and “human-grade” snacks for pets have entered the market. These products use high-end ingredients, and there are gluten-free food for pets in the array.

Recent surveys find that Millennials are willing to spend an average of $2000 for their pet’s medical care, with one in 10 saying they would spend over $10,000 on a sick pet.

According to studies by the New York-based trend forecasting company, Cassandra, “As a generation that puts off having children or opts out of it entirely, (Millennials) are putting greater focus on pets instead. Many are treating their pets as if they were kids and devoting a growing share of their disposable income to them.”

So, in a world where raising a kid requires a parent with a six-figure salary, taking care of a pet appears to be a less expensive alternative to Millennials who have known the economic hardships of a recession.

It appears they would rather settle for the love of a pet, than take on the life-long commitment of raising a child. As American actor, James Cromwell said, “Pets are humanizing. They remind us we have an obligation and responsibility to preserve and nurture and care for all life.”

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