The premiere event of the U.S. pet industry gets under way on February 26th. This is the 62nd show in a tradition that began in 1958. Both the show and the industry have grown spectacularly since then. In 1960 spending in the pet industry totaled $1.1B. In 2018 it was $78.6B, with $49B in Pet Products alone. Even accounting for inflation, pet spending has grown 80% faster than H/H income and twice as fast as H/H spending. The GPE began as the APPMA with 17 exhibitors in 30 booths. It now is regularly over 1100 exhibitors, who occupy over 350,000 square feet of booths plus a 30,000 square foot new product showcase. Global Pet Expo is truly The Showcase of the World of Pets.
The industry’s growth over the past 60+ years was and is an evolutionary process. Perhaps, the most significant change was in our attitude towards our pets. Over the years they went from being pets to companion animals then to our pet children as pet parenting became the norm. Recently, this has gone a step further as we have personified and humanized our pets. We now project our needs to those of our pets.
The structure of the industry has also evolved as we saw the rise of pet chains and superstores and an explosion of “pet space” in mass market retailers which provided the room for the ever-growing product wants and needs of pet parents. The number of outlets selling pet supplies went from 86,000 in 1992 to over 200,000 today…plus the internet. This has produced a competitive market, unlike anything we have seen before. This competitive pressure has driven an ever increasing number of mergers and acquisitions and made it even more difficult for new companies to find success.
Then, in late 2018 the government also got involved. Even now, we are still dealing with the impact of the FDA warning on grain free dog food, concerns regarding CBD products and of course, the added tariffs on Supplies. Plus, Global is scheduled a month earlier this year. Some or all of these factors undoubtedly contributed to a small reduction in the number of exhibitors at the 2020 GPE, but the average booth size is again up 5%. Summary: No worries! Every product that you’re looking for and plenty that you’ve never seen are at GPE 2020. Let’s look at what awaits you in Orlando:
First, some 2020 GPE “booth” facts: (Note: These numbers reflect committed booths as of 1/25/20 – more to come)
- 1064 booths – down 70 from the same time last year, but exhibitors are still opting in. Better late than never.
- 349,000+ sq ft of exhibit booth space (Not counting the 30,000 sq ft new product area)
- 20 x 10 is again the most popular size – 357 (33.6%), reflecting the need for more space.
- Booths are larger than 2019 – the “average” booth is over 327 sq ft, up 5% from 2019.
- Size matters – Booths 300 to 800 sq ft (29%) occupy 42% of the space. Those over 1000 sq ft (5%) cover 28%.
Will you see any new exhibitors or is it the usual group? The “usual” group is definitely there (760 from 2019) but…
- 304 (28.4%) of the GPE 2020 Exhibitors didn’t exhibit at GPE19 – 2 of every 7 Exhibitors were not at GPE 2019!
Specially Designated “Floor Sections” at GPE account for 40% of Booths. Let’s compare them to last year.
- International – Separate pavilions for 4 countries – China, Taiwan, Great Britain and Canada, Total: 59 Booths. However, this is only about 22% of the 268 exhibitors from 26 countries outside the U.S. – GPE is truly GLOBAL!
- Natural – 174 Booths: Up 8 (+5%) “Natural” continues to have a very strong consumer appeal.
- Boutique – 71 Booths: Up 9 (+14.5%) A continued resurgence, surpassing the previous peak (65) in 2014.
- Aquatic – 37 Booths but 8 are still uncommitted. Popularity of this category is trending down.
- 1st Time Exhibitors – 84 Booths, ↓27%. Most of the 193+ 1st Timers chose the regular floor or another special section. GPE is a “must do” for new companies and New – products and companies are a major focus of GPE.
There are large numbers of exhibitors in the “regular” floor space who would qualify for inclusion in these sections. You need to “work” the whole show to ensure that you get a full view of the product categories of interest to you. I will again be creating a GPE Exhibitor Visit Planner that allows attendees to plan their floor time by targeting the exhibitors with products of interest. The GPE 2020 SuperSearch will be made available on February 4th and be regularly updated with last minute changes. Now, let’s take a look at the results from this year’s research on exhibitors’ product offerings.
First, we’ll Compare Exhibitor Types – By function: By Animal type (Numbers are based assigned booths as of 1/25/20)
Because of the overall drop in booths, in this chart and others pay particular attention to the change in share. A change of (+/–) 0.5% is significant. In terms of booth count, any increase is significant and take note of any drop of 10% or more.
- Dogs Still Rule – Although down a bit, to 4%, 5 out of every 6 booths are selling dog products.
- Cats continue to gain share – In 2020, Cat Products are offered by 56% of exhibitors. Up from 40% in 2014.
- Fish/Aquatic – This category had the biggest decrease and is down 42% since 2017.
- Other Animals – All held their share and Small Animals and Horses gained ground.
- Business Services – Besides wellness products, this is the other big trend in the Industry. The huge lift is driven by private label/OEM and reflects the changing needs in the industry. There were only 8 exhibitors in 2014.
- Distributors – This segment remains stable but is still double the number that exhibited in 2014.
- Gift/Gen Mdse – This category has been declining since peaking at 91 in 2016.
Dogs and Cats are the undisputed royalty of Pet. Because of their huge impact on the industry. I have divided the products designed for them into 33 subcategories. Let’s see how this year’s GPE Top Ten (by booth count) are doing.
There was a shuffling in the rankings but 6 of 10 categories gained share – 5 were up 0.5% or more. Food was the only one with an increase in # and share. Waste Pickup made it into the Top 10, replacing grooming tools which fell to #12.
- Treats are still #1 and continue to gain share. 1 in 3 booths offers treats. (Many supplements are in treat form.)
- OTC Meds/Supplements/Devices also continues to gain share. In 2014 there were only 113 exhibitors.
- Food and Feeding Accessories both moved up in rank, but only Food increased in numbers and share.
- Toys – It’s not all about health and nutrition. Toys held onto #3. They lost a few booths but gained share.
- Collars, Leads & Harnesses – They held their share but are significantly below their 2015 count of 247.
- Beds/Mats – They had the biggest drop in number and share and fell to 6th place…just barely.
- Apparel – They lost a little in count and in share but fell from 7th to 8th mainly because of the lift by Food.
- Waste Pickup – They moved into the top 10, from #11 because Grooming Tools lost 24 exhibitors. (20%)
Pet Parents’ concern for the overall health and wellness of their “pet children” is still the current biggest trend.
The last chart details the specifics for all 33 of the Dog/Cat product categories that I defined. Of note: All the data inputs for this report and the SuperSearch tool come from a review of the GPE online exhibitor product listings AND visits to over 1100 websites. They’re not 100% accurate, but pretty close. Which categories are of interest to your business?
GPE 2020 showcases the World of Pets with products, services and education to fulfill every need. However, to reap the benefits, you need a plan. Exhibitors must showcase the “right” items. Attendees need to strategically analyze their data, determine what they need to improve their business and develop a plan to find the products to fulfill their needs. Then…execute the plan. If they do nothing else at GPE, attendees have 1 minute and 21 seconds to spend with each exhibitor. The GPE 2020 SuperSearch will be released next week. It can help. Try it out and…Good luck in Orlando!