With the rise of China’s urban pet economy, especially the online pet economy, consumption related to pets is increasingly prosperous, with business models becoming increasingly more diverse.
A girl livestreams cats in Zhengzhou, central China’s Henan province. (Xinhua/Zhang Haoran)
In 2019 China’s urban pet (dog and cat) consumer market exceeded 200 billion yuan, with the overall consumption reaching 202.4 billion yuan, an increase of 18.5 percent over 2018, according to the “2019 Chinese Pet Industry White Paper” (consumption report).
Chen, who works in Beijing, said “getting one’s pet fix online” — watching videos of pets taken by others — can help people to relax and pass the time in a fast-paced, stressful and unaccompanied life.
“Watching a cute Shiba Inu guessing in which hand the owner holds a snack, or watching a feisty cat fight dozens of rounds of balls from an automatic server, can be a great stress reliever,” Chen said.
Pet-related short videos on Kuaishou, a video platform in China, have been viewed by a maximum of 700 million people in a single day, according to a recent pet ecological report in 2020.
By May 2020, there was a live stream concerning pets every 5.4 seconds, with an average duration of one hour each time and an average duration of 16,000 hours per day. There are more than 100 million pet viewers and 75,000 active pet-related content creators, with 80 percent of those born in the 1980s and 1990s.
In addition to dogs and cats, pigeons, fish, hamsters, alpacas, reptiles, turtles and other pets are also favored pets for viewers. The video view count about alpacas reaches more than 1.2 million per day, while view counts of videos about chameleons exceed 600,000 per day.
In 2019, pet owners spent 6,082 yuan (about $896) for one dog and 4,755 yuan for one cat, an annual increase of 10.3 percent, according to “2019 Chinese Pet Industry White Paper.” Today much of the spending has been transferred to online platforms.
Other than pet food, pet consumption related to health, play, grooming and social activities are also on the rise. After the outbreak of COVID-19, the sale of intelligent cat litter boxes grew 879 percent, along with a 120 percent increase in automatic pet drinking bowls.
The pet-centered economy is on the rise. Insiders say that in terms of the age group of pet owners, the “post-80s” and “post-90s” generation have become the “main force” in China, with the younger consumer group promoting the prosperity of the online pet economy.
In addition to pet trading, the business models of subdivided markets, such as pet food, hosting, clothing, beauty, photography, medical treatment, funeral and insurance, have been constantly innovated and closely integrated with the industrial chain.