Whether we're dog lovers or cat lovers our love of animals is big business
I confess that I don’t have a pet. This wasn’t always the case, you see, I used to have a Siamese cat who just kind of adopted me as their pet parent. She was beautiful. She was a character and she was loyal. We enjoyed a relationship which was based on unconditional love and friendship.
I will always remember the day she died. That was over forty years ago; I still think about her to this day and I’ve never owned another pet since. Which might sound a little strange but the truth is that I recognize how much care they need in order to look after them properly and, besides, I couldn’t bear to lose another.
We form bonds with our pets stronger than perhaps we’d dare to imagine and they really do become like another member of the family. One who needs love and attention just as much as their human counterparts.
Which probably explains just why the pet sector is big business. According to Statista, the pet market in the U.K. is one of the largest in Europe with 45% of people claiming to own a pet. In the U.S. this grows to 69%. And figures from the RSPCA show that in the U.K. in 2018, it was estimated that there were nine million dogs. In the U.S. this figure grows to a staggering 89 million. That’s a lot of walkies right there.
One of the leading U.K. pet stores is Pets At Home which specializes in the sale of day to day pet products such as food and pet care products, as well as in-store veterinary help. In a market valued at approximately £5 billion, Pets At Home is doing rather well. However, this is nothing when compared to the size of the U.S. market where the total pet market passed $78 billion in 2018.
The Problem With Pets
However, the problem with animals is that they haven’t learned to speak yet. So, we have to try and interpret their sounds and behavior. This is fraught with pitfalls. Which is why looking after a pet can be more demanding than a child.
In my days of pet ownership, we lived in a very analog world but of course today, we expect everything to be Uber-easy. Everything at the touch of an app. If your pampered pooch is feeling a bit low, wouldn’t it be great to be able to access all the pet services you need via your smartphone?
Enter BabelBark, an app which connects the entire pet eco-system from retail to vets to clinics to shelters. All designed to redefine the relationship between pets and everyone who cares for them. Yes, man’s best friend has just gone digital.
According to their website, the idea came about in 2015. Co-founders Bill Rebezo and Roy Stein were planning an extended vacation—and were worried about leaving their dogs with sitters. So, they created an app to help the sitters out.
BabelBark was born and has now grown into a suite of products available to pet owners, veterinary hospitals and clinics and also for businesses and clinics.
Pet Care Just Got Smart
From finding veterinary care, communicating your pet’s needs, checking in with the sitters or the dog walkers and finding the best retailers for pet supplies - all in one app.
"BabelBark is an open data exchange," Rebozo explained. "The platform generates data like activity history and brand preferences, but also integrates external data, like medical records, nutritional details of dog food, user reviews and information about brand influencers to help everybody make better decisions when it comes to the life of any dog”.
Rebezo continued, “By connecting the whole eco-system of pet parents with veterinary and other pet caregiver businesses through a single platform, our platform delivers mutually-reinforcing benefits with a robust database enabling predictive analytics on what product and service are needed & when”.
So next time Fido or Rover are looking a little under the weather, simply reach for your smartphone, chances are, the answer will be there.
Andrew Busby is founder of Retail Reflections, Forbes contributor, global top 20 retail influencer and IBM Futurist