Attending Global Pet Expo 2016? – It’s Bigger than Ever! What’s Your Plan?

Global Pet Expo has earned the title of “Greatest Show on Earth” and has some “impressive” statistics. However, for attendees, a different word might come to mind…perhaps, intimidating?

At GPE 2016 there are:

  • Over 1100 separate exhibitor booths
  • 334,000 square feet of exhibitor booths (Plus 30,000 sq ft for the New Product Showcase)
  • 1000 new items in the New Product Showcase plus 2000 more launched on the exhibit floor
  • Over 16,000 attendees with more than 6000 “buyers”.
  • 30 different educational seminars (plus 1 repeat) – 33 hours of classes
  • 5 miles of aisles – just to walk the exhibit floor

The show floor is open for 26 hours so…Let’s “Do the Math!”

If you don’t attend any seminars, visit the New Product Showcase, stop to chat with anyone in the aisles or for food, a drink or to go to the bathroom and maintain a walking speed of 2.5 mph, you can spend about 1 minute and 20 seconds with each exhibitor…Perhaps you need a plan…??

There are a lot of fun things to do in Orlando and the weather provides a great break for those of us in the Northern latitudes. However the primary purpose for attending GPE or any industry event must be to improve your business.

[box]With 1100+ Exhibitors you can spend 1 minute and 20 seconds with each, if you don’t eat, drink, go to a class, go to the restroom…and walk fast!     You need a plan!


GPE is primarily about Pet Products – Food, treats and a vast array of Supply categories. New Products are a critical element in helping to turn around the current deflation in Food and Supplies so of course, you must take the time to visit the new product area. You should also sign up for any relevant classes, network with other industry professionals and…walk the whole show. The GPE is about gathering information and making decisions to improve your business – whether they are made on the spot or put on your “must do” list.

Every business can improve in terms of products. If you are a retailer, what sections of your store are not doing as well as you hoped and need a “facelift” or conversely, what areas are growing and need products to fill additional space? Category managers for distributors and retail chains may only be interested in targeted visits to exhibitors relevant to their “categories”. Representatives may be looking for new manufacturers…in specific product categories. Manufacturers could be looking to find distributors to handle their products or just looking to “check out” the competition. In regard to products, there is always something to see…for everyone!

Both the GPE and the Pet Industry have grown tremendously and the influence of Pet Products is widespread across Retail America. I don’t know if we fully appreciate just how widespread. If you include Veterinary Clinics and Service Establishments, Pet Products – food and/or supplies are sold in 200,000 U.S outlets – including 69 of the top 85 non-restaurant retailers in the U.S. …plus the Internet! And according to A.C. Nielsen, 62% of all consumer shopping trips are for $20 or less. As expected, the biggest “drivers” are #1 Milk and #2 Bread, but #3 is…pet products…the only nonhuman food item in the top 10. It’s a competitive, consumer driven market.

So you’re most definitely going to GPE 2016, how do you make the most out of your time? Here’s an idea…

In 2014 I first designed a tool in Excel, the Super Search Exhibitor Visit Planner to make “working SuperZoo” easier and more productive for ALL attendees – retailers, distributors, reps, groomers, vets…even exhibitors. I have updated the data and produced a tool for every GPE and SuperZoo since then…including GPE 2016.

When I say “update the data”, I am referring not just to exhibitor lists but also to the product category offerings for every exhibitor. Of course I reviewed every exhibitor profile on the show site but I also visited over 1000 websites to “validate” the offerings. It is not 100% accurate. However, it is close.

What does the SuperSearch do?…It searches for and produces a list of Exhibitors by product categories.

  • From the simplest…”just give me a list that I can look at on my phone or tablet quickly in either Booth # order or alphabetically”
  • To the most complex…”can do a simultaneous search for multiple specific product categories, allowing me to personally narrow down the initial results and see the “final” alphabetically or by booth number.

The GPE SuperSearch Exhibitor Visit Planner does both…and more…and does it quickly! Here’s what it looks like. It looks complex but is truly quite simple…Of course, you will print results in “landscape” – because it’s easier to read!


  1. In the Top section, you “design” your searches.
    • Enter a “Y” in the exhibitor search column. It turns green to indicate an “active” search
    • Enter a “1” the desired category
      1. If you want to search separately for several categories, use multiple rows (multiple search results are combined into 1 list for efficiency)
      2. If you want the results to be “and”…for example, exhibitors that carry, treats, toys and beds, put a “1” in all three…in the same row. Only those with all 3 will show up.
      3. Note: If you enter something other than a “1”, the cell turns red to indicate an error
  2. Now, click on “Execute” search and it happens
  3. You can then view the results alphabetically or in booth # order by clicking on a button.

Pretty simple, don’t you think? Plus, you can personally narrow the search results by using the “U pick ‘em” feature. And of course there is also a button to clear your search criteria so you can easily begin a new search.

Ready to Start Planning?

There are download links below for the GPE 2016 Super Search tool as well as one for the instructions. Please print out and read the instructions before you start to “play”. Yes, the instructions are 4 pages long. But before you get “turned off” about their length, take a look at some of the instructions that you have around the house…vacuum cleaner – 11 pgs; coffee maker – 21 pgs; cell phone…a novel!  After you see what the Super Search can do, your searches may grow more complex. The instructions will help you to be more efficient from the start… Note: The File has been updated. GPE 2016 SuperSearch is based on info as of 3/9. Six new exhibitors were added since the 3/9 update and a total of 14 since the 2/22 original. This is the final update before the show. Check the date in the file name. The exhibitors added between 3/2 and 3/9 are “highlighted” in pink. Those added from 2/22 to 3/2 are “highlighted” in blue.

Plan your work! Work your plan! You will be more productive and more successful!

Download Now and Get Started!

[button link=”” type=”icon” newwindow=”yes”] Download Instructions (PDF)[/button]

(To save the PDF to your computer Right Click the download link and select “Save Link As…”)


[button link=”” type=”icon” newwindow=”no”] Download SuperSearch GPE 2016 -3-9-16(Excel)[/button]

(For the Excel file to work on your computer, be sure to enable macros/editing)

GLOBAL PET EXPO 2016 – “The Greatest Show on Earth” is coming soon!

In 2015, Trade Show Executive Magazine officially named the 2014 Global Pet Expo as “The Greatest Show on Earth”, beating out a host of other events across an extraordinarily wide range of industries.

When I consider this great honor in context of reviewing the 2016 exhibitor and show information , I can’t help but be struck by how far the Pet Industry has come from my first APPMA show in June of 1989 in New Orleans.

The change really is just a reflection of the spectacular and still growing love affair that Americans have with our companion animals. Want some statistical proof? According to the government’s annual Consumer Expenditure survey, the Pet Industry has grown from $16.8B in 1994 to $64.3B in 2014…with over $41B spent on pets, food and supplies. In terms of Pet Food & Supplies expenditures, Americans exceed the household spending average for 50 consecutive years – from age 25 to 75. Even when the average income is halved after reaching age 75, pet spending keeps pace. With U.S. consumers demonstrating a lifetime commitment to our pets, is it any wonder that the industry and its showcase event, Global Pet Expo, continue to grow?

Let’s look at some 2016 GPE “booth” facts:

  • Over 1100 booths – up 3% from 2015
  • 330,000+ sq ft of exhibit floor booth space (Not counting the new product area) – up 7% from 2015
  • Booths are 3% larger – “average” booth is 300 sq ft (30×10)
  • But 10 x 10 is still the most popular size – with 405, in fact 70% of the booths are 20 x 10 or less.

Will you see any new exhibitors or is it the usual group? The “usual” group is definitely there but…

  • 360 of the GPE 2016 Exhibitors did not exhibit at GPE 2015
  • 570 of this year’s GPE exhibitors didn’t exhibit at SuperZoo 2015*
    • *By the same token, over 350 SuperZoo 2015 exhibitors weren’t at GPE 2015. Obviously, attending both of these shows is a “must do” if you want to keep up with what’s happening in the U.S. Pet Industry!

There are five Specially Designated “Floor Sections” at GPE. Let’s start with a brief review.

  • Natural – 122 Booths. This section remains strong after it was increased by 50% last year. Without a doubt, “Natural” has become a “magic” word to the “ultimate” buyers – the consumers.
  • Boutique – 51 Booths. A “specialty” section which is considerably smaller than SuperZoo’s Rodeo Drive. One factor in the difference is the higher percentage of Retail Pet Stores among SZ attendees.
  • Aquatic – 51 Booths. Up slightly from last year. GPE remains the “go to” show for aquatics.
  • International – 51 Booths. This is somewhat “deceptive”. Last year GPE had 202 international exhibitors…one of every five booths. Expect a similar count in 2015. GPE is truly GLOBAL!
  • 1st Time Exhibitors – 142 Booths. If you want to get established in the U.S. Pet Industry, you “must” do GPE. Every year, a major focus of GPE is “new”…both in products and in exhibitors.

A word of caution: These are specially targeted sections but as we saw in the “international” example, there are large numbers of Exhibitors in the “regular” floor space with products that would qualify for inclusion in these sections. You need to “work” the whole show to insure that you get a good view of what’s available in the product categories of particular interest to you.

In 2015 I developed a search tool for GPE and SuperZoo to make this type of planning easier. Show attendees could plan out their floor time by targeting the exhibitors with products that they were interested in seeing. Up to 5 product category searches could be run concurrently and the results were available in alpha or booth# order. This year’s tool will be made available shortly as the last few GPE 2016 booth assignments are finalized.

Let’s look at the results from the research done in developing the 2016 GPE SuperSearch Tool.

First We’ll Compare Exhibitor Types – By function: By Animal type


  • Cats are certainly Royalty …but Dogs Rule! However, cats are gaining ground. The number of booths offering cat products showed a significant increase and is now at 50%. This is up from 40% just 2 years ago.
  • While booths offering products for Reptiles, Small Animals and Horses increased slightly in numbers, the percentage increase was significant. It demonstrates that these companion animals remain a strong part of the U.S. Pet Industry.
  • Fish and Bird product exhibitors basically maintained their “share” of the growing GPE exhibitor count.
  • The big gain is in exhibitors offering business services. This can “cover a lot of ground” – from Private Label Food manufacturers to POS systems. This increase further enhances GPE’s appeal!

Dogs and Cats are certainly the royalty of Pet. Because of their huge impact on the industry, I have divided the products designed for them into 32 subcategories. Here are the top ten in exhibitor count for 2016.


  • The big movement is in the OTC Meds, Supplements and therapeutic products. This is a trend that has been accelerating. One factor in this growth may be the exceptional inflation in Veterinary prices.
  • Exhibitors with Food or treats are also growing in numbers. This is indicative of the competitive environment in these categories which is undoubtedly contributing to the ongoing price deflation in this Industry Segment. Also, many new Supplements are appearing in the form of treats.
  • Grooming Tools, both for providers and consumers entered the top 10 in 2015 and continues to grow.

Finally, the chart below details the specifics for all 32 of the Dog/Cat product categories that I defined. Of note: All the data inputs for this report and the SuperSearch tool were derived from reviewing the GPE online exhibitor product listings AND visits to over 1000 websites. They’re not 100% accurate, but pretty close.

Changes of special note from 2015 are highlighted. Which categories are of interest to your business?


In addition to being bigger, the show staff actively works to make each GPE better, including enhanced educational offerings and of course…the New Product Showcase. In combination with the excellent work being done on SuperZoo, we have 2 “must attend” U.S. Pet Industry Shows. Thank you, APPA, PIDA and WPA!

Regardless of why you are attending the GPE, having a productive show requires planning. It has simply gotten too big and is definitely too important to just “wing it”. The “GPE Super Search” tool that I referenced will be available shortly for download. Take a look. It can’t hurt…and it just might help.


U.S. PET SPENDING DEMOGRAPHICS: The 2014 Winners and Losers are….

In a recent post we identified the demographics of the “Ultimate” Pet spending household. Unfortunately, there are just not enough of these “prime” households. So we took the next step and bundled the subsets together for each category until we could identify a group with a dominant market share. Our goal was 80%. This produced some interesting results. Metro area dwellers, Homeowners, white but not Hispanic, 2 or more people living together and those with an income over $30K are all groups that generate 80+% of Pet Spending.

With over 80 segments in 12 different demographic categories, it is natural to wonder, “Which individual segments are performing best? Who are the winners…and losers?” This report will address those questions. The chart below identifies the best and worst performing segments in key demographic categories.

The performance of each segment was determined by comparing the share of total pet spending to the share of households. Ex: If a segment accounts for 10% of households but generates 15% of Pet Spending the score is 15/10=1.5 = 150%…a great performer. However, if the situation was reversed, 10/15=.67 = 67%…not good.


The top performers generally reflect our “Ultimate” Pet Spending H/H. Regarding the underperformers:

  • The under 25 age group was the worst of all the underperforming segments. Improving the pet spending of this demographic should be an Industry priority. Make it easy to get started as a Pet Parent.
  • Consumers of all income levels have pets. However, income is undeniably a factor in spending. This is reflected in the spending of single parents and service workers as well as the lower income segment.
  • Having more space and “owning” it are two keys to increased Pet ownership and…spending. You can see the impact of this in Center City dwellers and renters.
  • Pets are a great companion for singles, but get 2 adults together and pets are more likely to “follow”.
  • The Asian underperformance is curious. They have the highest H/H income but spend the least on pets.
  • Higher education generally means increased Pet Spending. However, Pet ownership is not dependent on education. In fact consumers who dropped out of HS spent more per H/H than HS grads with no college.

In the next chart we’ll “Show you the money”! We’ll identify the demographic segments within each category with the biggest gain or loss (or smallest gain) in Pet $pending from 2013-14.


Age & Occupation – Want proof of the impact of the Baby Boomers? Almost half the industry’s growth comes from the over 65 age group…and “retired” was the #1 “occupation” in growth contribution. Over 600K “Boomer” H/H’s turned 65 in 2014. Now on the Flip side: The tech, sales, clerical occupation lost 5% in income and 2% in H/H’s so their Pet purchases fell sharply. The 45-54 age group makes the most money and their H/H Pet spending went up…but over 600K “Boomers” moved up to the 55-64 so group spending fell.

Income – 14% of the H/H’s (over $120K) account for 82% of the Industry’s growth. The lowest incomes are being impacted by rising Veterinary prices.

Race/Ethnic – 70% of H/H’s (White) account for 87% of Pet Spending and 105% of the increase. There is definitely a racial/ethnic disparity in Pet spending.

Highest Education in H/H – Although Consumers with a Master’s Degree or above spend more on their pets, pet parenting is not about education. 61% of U.S. H/H’s don’t have a college degree but their pet spending increased 15% and they accounted for 64% of the $6.6B increase. Those H/H’s with a BA/BS spent significantly less on services, driving their overall Pet expenditures down.

H/H Size – It just takes 2…or more! Single person H/H’s spending was down.

H/H Composition – Married Couples, with or without children, accounted for 124% of the increase. The combined Pet spending for Singles, Single Parents and all other combinations was down…a total of $1.6B.

Region – Pet Spending was up in all Regions. However the Midwest was up 26% and the South…only 1%.

Area Type – Consumers in areas with under 2500 population spend the most but we are growing more Urban every day. There is strong growth both in Rural sections within metro areas and center cities. The Suburbs have the biggest share of Pet Spending at 46% but their spending per H/H dropped 4% in 2014.

Housing Tenure – Homeowners account for 80% of Pet Spending but 2014 was a really good year all-around as Renters pet expenditures increased $2.9B..↑23%.

Three “opportunities” seem readily apparent.

  1. Keep the aging/retiring “boomers” spending on their pets.
  2. Get the under 25 group started faster.
  3. Investigate the racial/ethnic disparity in Pet Spending