Ho­tels for dogs and sham­poos for cats: Pet prod­ucts, ser­vices set to boom

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By REN XIAOJIN renx­i­ao­jin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s pet mar­ket will grow an­nu­ally at an av­er­age 20.5 per­cent to ex­ceed 200 bil­lion yuan ($29.5 bil­lion) in sales by the end of 2020, ac­cord­ing to an in­dus­try re­port from Guangzhou Yourpet Net­work Tech­nol­ogy Inc.

The grow­ing num­ber of pet own­ers in China are more will­ing now than in the past to spend on their furry friends, spawn­ing an in­dus­try chain cov­er­ing prod­ucts and ser­vices. The fo­cus is no longer on just an­i­mal breeds and vet­eri­nary ser­vices.

Branded food, im­ported medicine, and a plethora of lifestyle-re­lated prod­ucts like pet cages, sham­poos, show­ers, beauty items and gar­ments are prom­i­nent pet prod­ucts.

Ser­vices com­prise food and nu­tri­tion clin­ics, pho­tog­ra­phy, beauty par­lors, in­sur­ance, styling, nail paint­ing, groom­ing, pet walks, health­care, train­ing and pet ho­tels.

The last-men­tioned busi­ness line has taken off in a big way in China. For in­stance, Banlv Vet, a pet ho­tel in Ning- bo, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, is equipped with a san­i­tized surgery room, a se­cure ac­cess sys­tem, a cen­tral­ized tem­per­a­ture and hu­mid­ity con­trol sys­tem and closed cir­cuit TV cam­eras that mon­i­tor ev­ery room.

It is now up­grad­ing its fa­cil­ity to make sure ev­ery furry lit­tle guest has a won­der­ful stay while its own­ers are away. “Last year, we in­vested quite a lot in up­grad­ing to the mod­ern sys­tem, in­clud­ing the cage made of bet­ter ma­te­rial,” said Xu Shan­shan, a vet and the owner of Banlv Vet. “Pet own-

Pet own­ers are be­com­ing picky about ser­vices like pet ho­tels.” Xu Shan­shan, a vet and the owner of Banlv Vet

ers are be­com­ing picky about ser­vices like pet ho­tels. They would love to pay more for bet­ter ser­vices like branded food, im­ported medicine and pet sham­poo.”

Banlv started as a small vet shop out­side a res­i­den­tial com­pound five years ago. Back then, it used to have only one re­tired vet on its staff. It also had sim­ple fold­able pet cages and an open surgery ta­ble. Banlv is beef­ing up its staff with more vet­eri­nary grad­u­ates and pet nurses.

“It used to cost 20 yuan for a small-sized dog shower. Now it costs 50 yuan, and hun­dreds (of yuan more) for styling, nail paint­ing and groom­ing,” said Wang Yunya, a reg­u­lar cus­tomer of Banlv. “Dur­ing Spring Fes­ti­val, I spent 2,000 yuan for my three lit­tle dogs to stay here for a week.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Statis­tics Bureau, China is on its way to be­com­ing the third­largest pet mar­ket af­ter the United States and Ja­pan. From 2010 to 2016, the lo­cal mar­ket has been grow­ing an­nu­ally at al­most 50 per­cent on av­er­age.

Neil Wang, pres­i­dent of the China unit of Frost & Sul­li­van, a global con­sult­ing firm, said per-capita GDP in China has reached $8,576, lay­ing the foun­da­tion for a boom in the pet mar­ket. Higher in­comes, he said, spur con­sump­tion up­grades and peo­ple are more will­ing to pay for bet­ter food, health­care, beauty prod­ucts and train­ing for their pets.

But the mar­ket is some dis­tance from pro­duc­ing its first uni­corn startup. Com­pa­nies in the pet mar­ket are still busy build­ing their brands. Wang Tiange, who owns five Chi­huahua dogs, said, “Some­times, I don’t know which Chi­nese dog food to buy be­cause there are so many of them and none of them is a dom­i­nat­ing brand. And I don’t think there is a rec- og­niz­able brand in dog clothes or other daily prod­ucts. So I usu­ally buy im­ported brands.”

Neil Wang said China has too many small com­pa­nies in the pet mar­ket, more so be­cause of in­suf­fi­cient reg­u­la­tion. How­ever, with more in­vestors en­ter­ing the mar­ket, it will hope­fully see some big com­pa­nies lead­ing the way in fu­ture, he said.

WANG KANGKANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

A dog en­joys a hair­cut at a pet store in Suzhou, Jiangsu prov­ince.

REUTERS

Pedes­tri­ans walk past an of­fice build­ing in Bei­jing's Cen­tral Busi­ness District.

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