Pet Tech Gets Smart
New advances in pet product technology are changing not only how owners interact with companion
animals, but also how retailers approach category sales.
BY CARLEY LINTZ
Technology today has really gone to the dogs—and cats. Modern technology is quickly changing every aspect of our lives, includ- ing how we interact with our pets, from feeding and playtime to monitoring and care.
“At OurPet’s, we feel that a lot of these changes in the pet tech
world are coming from the desire to understand and become closer
to your pet,” says Rachelle Rabasi, director of marketing for Fair-
port Harbor, Ohio-based The OurPet’s Co. “Everyone
loves their pets, and they want the best for them, so
products that increase the level of communication
and care for pets are becoming more important.”
This emphasis on care is part of a larger shift of pets
from companions to full-fledged family members. In fact,
nearly all pet owners today—95 percent according to a
2015 Harris poll—say they consider pets part of the family.
“New pet owners are entering the category with a ‘
parent’ mindset in greater numbers than in the past. These owners increasingly will do whatever they must to provide the
best for their pet,” says Heberto Calves, chief marketing officer for Stamford, Conn.-based Smart
Pet Technologies, LLC.
Another driving force behind
this pet tech trend is millennial pet owners. Approximately 31 percent of
pet owners (43 million)
are between the ages
of 18 and 34 years old,
according to a report from Rockville, Md.-based market research publisher Packaged Facts. Another report by Arlington, Va.-based Wakefield Research found that 69 percent of millennial pet owners are likely
to use technology to keep track of their pet.
Tracking is a major priority amongst modern pet parents. Owners
want “a way to know their pet is safe and that they are doing what
is best for their pet. In short, peace of mind,” says Calves. And tracking products like Smart Pet Technologies’ Link AKC smart collar gives
them an easy way to ensure their furry family members are safe.
The Link AKC collar and its corresponding app allow owners to
check their pets’ location anywhere in the U.S. using GPS and the
AT&T cellular network. It also gives them the power to
create a temporary virtual fence, and if Fido leaves this
digital safety zone, users automatically get an alert.
In addition to tracking, the
Link AKC collar also provides
owners with meaningful insight into their dog’s health
and wellness with precise
activity tracking and personalized activity level
Other features of the
smart collar include
the ability to take
photos and record
videos, as well as
remotely turn on
sound for training.
It comes in four
sizes to fit a variety of dog breeds,
is water resistant up
to a depth of three feet
and includes a battery that lasts up to five days.
Other popular pet products with modern tech upgrades focus on
adding efficiency to pet care. “Pet parents are looking for products that
actually provide value through functionality,” says Rabasi. “If they are
going to pay a premium price for high-tech products, they are expect-
ing a functional benefit along with ease of use.”
The OurPet’s SmartLink Waterers and Feeders, for example, take
the guesswork out of keeping pets fed and hydrated. As part of the
company’s Intelligent Pet Care line, the devices pair with a Bluetooth-
enabled SmartLink Tag to automatically dispense food or water when