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Digital Monitoring and Interaction at a Premium in US Pet Care Market

With pet care a higher priority than ever before, a new generation of remote systems is proving hugely popular.

Photo: Doggy distress: Remote reassurance is just a Pawcall away.
Doggy distress: Remote reassurance is just a Pawcall away.
Photo: Doggy distress: Remote reassurance is just a Pawcall away.
Doggy distress: Remote reassurance is just a Pawcall away.

The changing status of pets in US households offers a variety of opportunities for Hong Kong exporters servicing the domestic animals sector. A recent survey by Los Angeles-based Kelton Research showed that the wellbeing of pets is now taken far more seriously than a generation ago, with 60% of respondents regarding them as an integral part of the family.

With the health and security of pets a major concern for two thirds of those questioned, this has given rise to a new generation of products geared towards providing peace of mind to busy and time-compromised owners. Inevitably, many of these new products are digitally-enabled and allow for remote interaction with home-resident pets.

One such product that has proved particularly popular for its facility to keep pets happy and stimulated while their owners are out and about is the Dart Automatic Laser Pet Toy. Retailing for around US$27.95, this utilises an automatic rotating laser light designed to entertain multiple cats or dogs.

Similarly diverting is the Petcube, which features a wide-angle camera and allows absent owners to view and interact with their pets via a microphone, a speaker and a built-in laser pointer. Connectible to a home Wi-Fi network, the user can access the $149 system via a free smartphone app.

Interactivity is also the prime function of the Petchatz system. As with the Petcube, interaction is via a smartphone app, although the Petchatz takes remote engagement with your pet to another level.

The $379.99 system offers a two-way audio and video connection, allowing the pet to actually see absent owners. The user also has the option of remotely triggering the diffusion of calming scent and dispensing nutritious treats, as well as recording the activities of the pet for both sentimental and security purposes. One popular add-on to the system is the Pawcall ($112.35). This accessory allows the pet to "call" the remote owner via a trigger pad.

Photo: Canine capering: Long-distance light-play interaction via the Dart Automatic Laser Pet Toy.
Canine capering: Long-distance light-play interaction via the Dart Automatic Laser Pet Toy.
Photo: Canine capering: Long-distance light-play interaction via the Dart Automatic Laser Pet Toy.
Canine capering: Long-distance light-play interaction via the Dart Automatic Laser Pet Toy.

The common element of all these popular products in the US pet sector is their facility for digitally-enabling remote monitoring and interaction. This effectively caters for the twin needs of responsible pet ownership and the demands of increased work time, necessitating prolonged home absence. Both of these requirements should be borne in mind by Hong Kong companies targeting the increasingly lucrative US pet sector, with many such considerations also applicable to the European market.

Alice Lee, New York Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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