Online Browsing Habits of Dog and Cat Owners
If you live on Aoshima, the Japanese island where feline creatures outnumber humans, your world is full of hundreds of cats fed by adorable little old Japanese ladies. Even if you don’t live on such an idyllic island, the photos are worth a look.
Fortunately, we live in a land slightly more diverse, touting cat people, dog people and even “both people” (households with both dogs and cats). Millennials, now the largest demographic of pet owners, account for 35% of pet ownership. Compared to older generations, young people are showing greater consciousness when it comes to the health and well-being of their pets. Following from the investment of millennials in pet care is the rising price of stock in pet healthcare products.
Research has also shown that when it comes to marketing to pet owners, that place and pet-owner location is important. For example, 63% of urban pet owners purchase pet products online compared to 42% of their suburban and 32% of their rural counterparts. And since millennials are opting for urban or suburban spaces over rural life, the largest demographic of pet owners lives in cities, shops online, and will spend more on their pets than members of previous generations.
Customer Journey Analysis: Dog People v. Cat People
To get some digital perspective on these groups, The Digital Consumer pit Dog People against Cat People and examined data from Jumpshot’s 100-million-device panel to get a sense of the behavior patterns for each group.
First, we considered what defined a “dog owner” or a “cat owner,” selecting the users in our panel who made at least one purchase in dog and cat supply categories in the first quarter of 2018. Then we analyzed the online browsing behavior of each of those groups, “indexing” them against one another. That means we examined behaviors that a high percentage of each group exhibited, then, over the same time period, calculated how many more or less users visited that URL in the other group.
For example 2.5% of all the cat owners we tracked searched Google for “imdb.” That’s 65% higher than the percentage of dog owners who searched that term—just 1.51% of dog owners did.
Those aren’t huge percentages, but the difference between them is telling. And taken together, “overindexing” one group’s browsing tendencies reveals patterns that would be hard to uncover any other way. For this little study, we focused on Google searches, product category purchases on Amazon, and video views on YouTube.
Just Dog Person Things
Dog owners were almost 5 times more likely to shop for safety gates and doorways. While these products fall under “baby products,” it seemed fairly likely that these products would be used for keeping dogs—starter kids for millennials—out of where they don’t belong. Or at least that’s what I thought, before I noticed that dog owners were also more than twice as likely to buy pacifiers and almost 70% more likely to buy disposable diapers.
On Google, dog owners were 2.5 times more likely to search for “GNC,” and almost 2 times more likely to search for “Tractor Supply” and “rockauto.” They were also around 300% more likely to check out gunbroker.com. This doesn’t mean that all dog owners are musclebound, gun-toting gearheads from the country, it just means that dog owners are far more likely to align with these interests than cat owners in the aggregate.
The top overindexing terms—those that were more prevalant among dog owners than cats—are organized below. The more often dog owners searched these terms, the larger they’re rendered.
Aside from the standout “petsmart” (more on that below), a rough pattern is clear here. Dog owners are more likely to search for tools and paint, frequent car shopping and auto supply sites, and search for outdoor gear and apparel.
They were also far more likely (almost 2x) to search the phrase “how many ounces in a gallon”—it’s 128— and “how many cups in a gallon” (60% more likely). Despite a fair amount of pondering, we can’t quite figure out why this would be the case.
Conversions aside, the search trends match dog owners’ overindexing youtube videos. Dog owners were almost two times more likely to watch the video “FUNNIEST DOGS in SNOW COMPILATION,” (caps were in the title) and “This is why dogs follow you into the bathroom . . .” which is fairly unsurprising. But they were also far far more likely to watch country music videos on Youtube, favorites being Thomas Rhett’s “Marry Me” (50% more likely as cat owners) and Dan & Shay’s “Tequila” (1.5x more likely than cat owners). The two highest over-indexing videos were both from Dude Perfect, which overlaps with the sports and outdoors purchases and searches.
The Petsmart Dog–Cat Efficiency Gap
Remember how the term “petsmart” highly overindexes for dog owners? This is surprising, given the the category breakdown for petsmart.com according to Jumpshot Insights data. Purchases in the “dogs” made up 33% of all petsmart.com purchases in Q1. Purchases in the “cats” category was just slightly behind, with 29.8% for Q1.
That said, the dogs category drew 7,827,482 interacting sessions while the cats category drew just 3,784,230. Given the roughly similar conversion figures, that makes the dogs category far less effecient for the site. That means dog owners have way more searches and interactions with petsmart, but ultimately fewer purchases.
Based on shopping behavior, and we hope we’re not playing into stereotypes too much here, cat owners seem a bit likelier than dog owners to be home-focused and interested in books, more than dog owners at least. They overindex about 150% more for teen sci-fi and fantasy novels, as well as reference eBooks, but they also are more likely to read about their workouts: they’re 3 times as likely to shop for exercise and fitness books. They searched “goodreads” at nearly double the rate of dog owners as well.
Interestingly, cat owners were way more likely to buy food online. The highest overindexing category on Amazon for cat owners, for example was flavored Greek yogurt, a category cat owners are almost 4 times more likely to buy. They also overindex 2x for candy and chocolate (not in the top 20 products list above), for puffed snack foods (3x more likely than dog owners), mushrooms (2.5x more likely), and ground beef (135% more likely). Plus, they’re more than 140% more likely to search seamless and 70% more likely to search “instacart” on Google.
While dog owners were more likely to buy hiking-specific backpacks, cat owners were more likely to buy casual backpacks, which just goes to show that no matter what kind of pet you own, you always need a bag to carry your stuff.
Internet culture (and culture at large) were more interesting to cat owners. “Crunchyroll” and “imgur” were highly overindexing search terms, as were the terms “google arts and culture” and “google arts and culture face match.” Cat people were more likely to be movie fans, as they were 1.5 times more likely to search for movies on Google. Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, Ready Player One, and I, Tonya were all popular searches.
Some standouts from this list require a little explanation. Sir William Henry Perkin was a british biochemist who discovered the first synthetic dye, and, more importantly for our purposes, was the subject of Google doodle in march. His prominence here suggests that cat owners were more likely to click through Google doodles generally, though it’s conceivable they’re more interested in spectacular beards.
Cat people are also clearly the bigger Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) fans. For example, those who viewed the episode in which Oliver tackled NRA TV were 109% more likely to have bought cat food. This number was about the same for the following episodes: Trump vs. the World, Crytocurrencies, and Italian Election.