The Pet Industry is Back: What to Expect for SuperZoo 2022 Attendees

SuperZoo 2022 is only a few weeks away. According to John Gibbons, The Pet Business Professor, the pet industry and in-person trade shows have made a strong return to a more normal state. The pandemic has pushed pet owners to spend even more time with their children, so the pet products segments have thrived during this difficult time. However, pet salons were closed and then slowly returned since 2021.

Consumer apprehensions about personal contact have fueled tremendous growth in Internet pet product sales. However, most of these expenses come from proven products. Shoppers of all kinds, from consumers to chain store executives, prefer to make in-person purchasing decisions on new pet items. Therefore, the resurgence of in-person pet trade shows is critically important to the continued growth of the pet industry.

With SuperZoo 2021, the pet industry has started to get back on track. At SuperZoo 2022, we’re basically there. SuperZoo 2022 currently has 1017 exhibitors. This is still 8% less than pre-pandemic 2019 but 39% more than SuperZoo 2021. 1000+ exhibitors is the usual target number for major pet shows. Another good indicator of “normal” is increased exhibitor enthusiasm. To date, only five booths (500 square feet) have not been officially sold, but three of them are reserved, awaiting final payment. The 2022 SuperZoo will be a full house.

So how big is SuperZoo 2022’s “house”? There are 266,000 square feet of booth space, a 37,000 square foot new product showcase with over 800 items, and 17,000 square feet dedicated to education and demonstrations. There are also 80 separate educational sessions on grooming or business topics totaling 86 hours. It’s a great opportunity for the 10,000 buyers expected, but also a challenge. They must come up with a plan to take full advantage of SuperZoo’s return to power. Total attendance, including buyers, exhibitors, media/guests, is expected to be 17,000. The show will be crowded.

Novelty is always at the center of pet shows. This also applies to exhibitors. At SuperZoo 2022:

  • 515 exhibitors were not at SZ21
  • 539 were not at GPE22
  • And 366 did no show

These are solid arguments to attend SuperZoo 2022. It is definitely a “must do” for all attendees in the pet industry. Now, let’s look at some details of what you’ll see there. Note: With an overall increase of 39% in exhibitor numbers, you are going to see a lot of big positive numbers compared to SZ 2021. I suggest you focus on the booth share. To gain market share, a category in any ranking must increase its number of stalls by more than 38.6%. The evolution of this measure will indicate the performance of a particular product group or category.

First, we’ll look at the whole show in terms of specialized sections.

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  • To help guide attendees’ time on the huge exhibit hall, special sections have grown in size and prominence. They topped 50% of SuperZoo stalls for the first time in 2021. They are now at 58%.
  • You also notice that there have been a lot of name changes. Rodeo Drive became Specialty & Lifestyle. Critter Alley is now aquatics, birds, reptiles and small animals and the innovation incubator is now emerging brands.
  • Other changes: Natural & Health have been combined and the welcome return of an international pavilion.
  • Natural & Health are the undisputed biggest trends in pet products. They almost always go together, so it makes sense to put them in one section. Natural has been the biggest section for years. Even with a huge overall increase in exhibitors, they have essentially maintained their share.
  • Specialty & Lifestyle (Fashion) lost 1.0% market share. This section has been on a downward trend in recent years.
  • The smaller sections have all seen significant market share gains, with groomers paving the way for their return to the limelight.
  • The end of COVID-related travel issues made an international pavilion possible.
  • The increase in the share of emerging brands is very significant as it signals a strong comeback of new businesses in the industry. In fact, there are 265 new SuperZoo exhibitors at the show – one in four booths!

Now let’s look at exponents by type, including animals.

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  • While all classifications except Distributors had more exhibitors, only three gained market share – Business Services, Cat & Dog.
  • As far as animals are concerned, there are still many exhibitors offering products to cover all the needs of pet owners of all types of animals. However, Dog & Cat’s big wins underscore that the priority is the “royalty” of the industry.
  • Business Services is the big story in this chart. This segment includes companies that offer services to improve existing businesses and those that help in the production of private labels – ingredients, packaging or finished products. In 2015, there were 65 SuperZoo exhibitors in this category. In 2022, there are 176, an increase of 171% – almost three times. The driving force has been the ever-increasing desire and availability of private label products. Private label allows retailers to differentiate themselves, provide more value to consumers and generally generate more profits.

Let’s take a closer look at royalty. Here are the top 10 dog and/or cat categories at SuperZoo 2022.

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  • This graph is quite boring and shows that the overall strong performance of Cat & Dog products was largely due to these most popular categories. There were only 2 minimum share losses – Beds/Rugs and Clothing.
  • The categories are the same as in 2021. Sweets and Medicines/Supplements maintained their strong hold on the top spots.
  • Collars/leashes and toys have gained market share and maintained their rank, showing that the focus is on pets both indoors and outdoors.
  • Food is getting even stronger as food and food accessories saw the biggest gains in market share.
  • Beds & Mats lost a bit of market share, -0.04%, as their number of stalls only increased by 38.1%, slightly below the 38.6% needed to maintain their market share. They were also the only category to drop down the rankings, going from a tie of sixth place in 2021 to seventh place in 2022. Not bad for the underperforming.
  • Shampoos maintained their rank and tools gained a big share gain. Grooming salons are making a comeback, but more and more pet owners are doing some of the work. The key is that the Grooming category is becoming more and more of a priority.
  • Apparel lost -0.04% market share, but that could be a win. Fashion has been less of a focus in recent years as pet parents have turned their attention to nutrition, health and wellness. This could mean that the decline has essentially ceased.

SuperZoo has 39% more exhibitors. However, the average booth size has fallen to 269 square feet from 294 square feet in 2021. In 2019 before the pandemic, it was 252. This drop in booth size reflects the strong influx of new and smaller businesses. They are often the source of new products, so that’s great news. Products and services are available to meet virtually any plan member’s needs or desires. Additionally, the increased size of special floor sections and their more targeted targeting along with a massive number of educational sessions are two prime examples of the WPA’s ongoing efforts to continually improve the show.

853 exhibitors (84 percent) focus on Dog and/or Cat. Let’s take a closer look.

There are 283 more exhibitors at SuperZoo 2022 than in 2021. Those offering dog and/or cat products increased by 243. The dog/cat share increased slightly from 83.1% to 83.8 %. Dogs and cats remain the undisputed “royalty” of the industry. Again, we will focus on the share change.

  • 27 of the 33 categories have increased their number of exhibitors
  • Only nine categories increased their share of the total number of exhibitors

When you look at the dog/cat categories that are gaining market share, you see some familiar faces. Eight of the nine whose share increased were “Top 10” categories. The other category to gain shares is minor, tracking and monitoring devices. However, their gain was impressive, +100% in cabins and a gain of 0.3% in market share. This increase is most likely related to the health/wellness trend. The loss of share was widespread as 24 of the 33 categories of dogs and cats lost ground. The most positive trends are nutrition, health and wellness, and grooming. The “rich” in these categories have become richer. Food (#5) saw the biggest market share gain, +2.5%, but #1 Treats led the way in booth numbers with 106 additional exhibitors and #2 Meds/ Supplements increased by 84.

Six categories experienced a minimal drop in exhibitors. Catnip led the way (-3) and saw the largest share decline, -1.3%. Of the 24 categories that lost share, three others saw declines of -1.2% or more: rawhide, furniture, and fleas and ticks. However, make no mistake. Even with these share losses, all dog and cat product needs are more than covered, with plenty of choice in each.

SuperZoo again showcases what’s happening in the pet industry and provides an excellent opportunity for industry participants, exhibitors and attendees to drive the growth of their businesses. It still takes effort and commitment from everyone, but SuperZoo 2022 is the safest bet in Las Vegas!

Finally, the table below details the specifics of the 33 dog/cat product categories that I defined for the Super Search Exhibitor Visit Planner. (Note: SZ 2022 Super Research will be available on 8/1.)

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