Popularity of Pets
What to expect in 2020
By Erin Breig, Rubies
Special to Party & Halloween Retailer
Pet humanization. This is a phrase that is becoming more common in the pet industry. Over the past 10 years, there has been a shift in the way we view our pets. More often than not, pet parents are looking to provide their animals with human-like products or experiences. To that point, even the term, “pet parents” is more commonly used than “pet owners” these days.
One striking example of pet humanization comes from the 2018 National Pet Owners Survey from the American Pet Products Association (APPA), in which 28% of dog owners revealed that they throw a birthday party for their dog. We are seeing the humanization of pets becoming more and more hot commodities, from gourmet treats and luxurious pet hotels to pet clothing.
Americans care more about our pets than we ever have before. This is a wonderful thing for pets, but also for businesses! We started to recognize this trend nearly 10 years ago when Rubie’s Costume Company started growing the pet category. As the world's largest designer, manufacturer, and distributor of costumes and accessories, Rubie’s has offered pet costumes in its catalog for a long time. It wasn’t until 2012, however, that I came in to establish a separate pet costume division, now known as Rubie’s Pet Shop Boutique.
In our very first year, we added over one hundred styles for cats and dogs to our offering, and the category exploded from there. Eight years later, the business continues to thrive as we grow our selection to meet the needs of a variety of retailers. While we are widely known for our licensed pet costumes, we also have a full offering of our own branded pet styles and delightful accessories to cover the entire year, with birthdays, formalwear, graduations, Christmas, and St. Patrick’s Day continuing to grow in popularity.
A family-run company for over 69 years, Rubie’s started as a small Halloween costume shop in Queens, New York. We are now the leader in an industry that expands beyond Halloween to other holidays as well as every day dress up/role play. Our amazing licensing team has secured over 150 licenses to date, allowing us to offer the best licensed lineup in both the human and pet costume category.
With all of this, believe it or not, our fastest-growing division is Rubie’s Pet Shop Boutique. The National Retail Federation recently estimated 20% of Americans planned to dress their pets in Halloween costumes, spending more than $450 million on a trend that’s expected to continue growing in popularity.
We don’t have a crystal ball that tells us what will be popular for Halloween, Christmas, or everyday dress-up, but Rubie's can react quickly to the latest licenses, trends, and pop culture phenomena to meet the consumers’ dress-up related desires. Take the wildly popular, “Baby Shark” as an example. Rubie’s picked up the Pink Fong license early in 2019 and were able to produce a full lineup of costumes and accessories that was ready to hit shelves in time for Halloween 2019.
In addition to staying on top of the trends, Rubie’s is strong when it comes to manufacturing. We often see a viral trend take place in the summer and can react swiftly because we have several factories right here in the United States that can produce and ship efficiently and quickly!
Rubie’s Pet Shop Boutique plans to expand the Disney Pets line with more characters. My personal favorite from this lineup is Maleficent, which is inspired by 2019’s film starring Angelina Jolie. 2020 has a stellar movie slate that includes the long-awaited sequel to Wonder Woman, so I expect our version to be very popular.
A new Ghostbusters movie (that pays homage to the classic film) will increase the popularity of our Ghostbusters suit, Staypuft outfit, and Slimer; the slapstick comedy of the Minions in The Rise of Gru will undoubtedly put the spotlight on everyone’s favorite yellow underlings; and a summer release of Top Gun Maverick starring Tom Cruise will introduce a cool new bomber jacket for pets. And though we don’t have that crystal ball, and I am excited to see what happens in 2020.