Millennials, the generation between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s, are typically distinguished by their high levels of education, digital fluency, and their desire to make a difference in the world through social change.

Although their lives have endured two severe economic slowdowns, the 2008 recession and the COVID-19 pandemic, millennials are not just a high-spending generation, they’re also on track to become the wealthiest generation in history, thanks to a combination of future earnings potential and inheritances.

Taken together, the attributes of millennials make this large cohort an especially important one for the pet industry. In fact, millennials are considered a key driver for industry growth in the years ahead, even more than wealthier baby boomers.

Why are millennials so important to the pet industry? Here’s a look at some of the main reasons this group of pet parents carries so much sway.

Millennials are serious pet parents who treat their animals like family members

Even though they may generally be less willing than prior generations to pursue home ownership, marriage, or parenthood at a young age, many millennials have shown no such hesitancy when it comes to pet parenthood. Indeed, if they don’t have children, houses, or spouses in the picture, many millennial pet owners become committed pet parents, willing to do or buy whatever they believe is necessary to enrich, improve, or extend the life of their beloved animals.

More than any prior generation, millennials have demonstrated a desire to humanize their pets and give them the best, whether it be with healthy food and treats, care and medicine, grooming services, high-quality toys, or doggie daycare.

For some pet parents, this humanization also includes giving their pets gifts on special occasions. Millennials are among those most likely to buy something for their dog or cat at Christmas, maybe even Halloween, or to celebrate their pet’s birthday with treats and presents.

Many millennials have young pets

While some older pet parents may be less inclined to deal with the rambunctious energy of a puppy or kitten, millennials tend to be more likely to acquire young animals. As a result, the lifespan of their pet parenthood is often longer than other cohorts. This means a slightly greater need for products in the short term, as well as more total years of spending on food, care, grooming, daycare services, and other pet products.

Millennials tend to be more health-conscious, and socially conscious consumers

Millennials and other younger adults are the pet parents most interested in purchasing premium products such as organic foods and supplements, natural toys, and similar items for their dogs, cats, and other animals. This fast-growing section of the pet market is expected to keep generating more products and revenues in the coming years.

In addition, millennial pet parents have a tendency to prefer items that are sustainably sourced and produced, reflecting their typically broader concern for social issues and causes, notably the environment, as well as efforts to reduce waste and carbon emissions. Pet industry producers and retailers who share and act on these kinds of social and environmental concerns are likely to find an appreciative group of millennial pet parents as their customers.

Millennials are eager, comfortable online shoppers

Given that they’ve spent their entire adult lives in an era of ubiquitous smartphones, social networks, and WiFi, millennials have had no problem adopting e-commerce as a way to get the products they want, either for themselves or for their pets.

With pet industry e-retailers and apps growing fast, and shopping habits being further altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, millennials will continue to be an important driver of this trend.