Global Pet Expo, the Pet Industry’s premiere event, is back, live and in person. The show switched to a virtual event last year due to COVID, breaking a string of 63 consecutive live shows (since 1958). The 2020 show was also affected by COVID, as last-minute travel restrictions forced many Chinese exhibitors to cancel.
How important is a live event? In the Pet Industry it is critical because of our attitude towards Pets and Pet Products. Pets became an integral part of our families in the 90’s as Pet Owners became Pet Parents. This relationship has grown even stronger in recent years as we now increasingly personify our pets. This is why a live show is important. Pet shows are primarily focused on Pet Products. Studies have shown that over 60% of consumers prefer to make initial buying decisions on Pet Products in person. This makes Pet Products second only to fresh groceries in this consumer behavior. This preference applies to all Pet Products buyers, not just consumers. The retailers and distributors attending GPE and SuperZoo want to see and touch a new product before they buy. Obviously, live shows are not just important, they are critical to the continued growth and strength of the Pet Industry.
There will be changes this year as the APPA and PIDA are doing everything possible to ensure the safety and comfort of all attendees. If you are not at serious risk, then it is an event not to be missed. Now, let’s take a brief look at what awaits attendees of GPE 2022.
The show is smaller this year, both in square footage (-20%) and number of exhibitors (-30%) but there is still a bounty available, more than enough to satisfy the needs and wants of every buyer that attends. Here are some relevant facts.
- 704+ Booths – as of 2/20 but more are being added daily
- 270,000+ sq ft of exhibit booth space (Not counting the 45,000 sq ft new product area)
- 20 x 10 is again the most popular size – 253 (35.9%), reflecting the need for more space.
- Booths are larger – the “average” booth is over 379 sq ft, up 16% from 2020. (Almost equal to a 20’x20”)
- Size matters – Booths 300 to 800 sq ft (31%) occupy 41% of the space. Those over 1000 sq ft (7%) cover 34%.
Will you see any new exhibitors or is it the usual group? There have been 4 live pet trade shows from 2019>21 – 2 GPEs and 2 SZs. Of the current exhibitors at GPE 2022:
- 218 (31%) – Did all 4 other shows
- 511 (73%) – Did at least 1 other GPE
- 193 (27%) – Are new to GPE
- 120 (17%) – No other shows; new to the industry
The percentage of exhibitors new to GPE this year is about the same as 2020’s 29%. There is plenty of “New” to see.
Specially Designated “Floor Sections” at GPE account for 41% of Booths, about the same as 2020 (40%). Due to the big drop in booth count, the best way to compare GPE 2022 to previous years in this and other areas is by share of booths.
- Natural – 180 Booths. The number of booths in this section is actually up from 174 in 2020. The share has skyrocketed up to ¼ of all booths, reflecting the growing strength of the natural trend in our whole society.
- Boutique – 21 Booths. After a brief resurgence in 2020, the booth share of this area fell sharply. Boutique is essentially the opposite of Natural and more discretionary in a country that is increasingly focused on “needs”.
- Aquatic – 15 Booths. Popularity of this category continues to trend down.
- 1st Time Exhibitors – 74 Booths. The share is up but most of the 193 1st Timers chose the regular floor or another special section. GPE is a “must do” for new companies and New – products and companies are a major focus of GPE.
- International – No international pavilions this year, except a 2 booth Canadian. In 2020, before the last-minute travel restrictions, there were 268 exhibitors from 26 countries outside the U.S. COVID is still affecting travel.
There are large numbers of exhibitors in the “regular” floor space who would qualify for inclusion in these sections. You need to “work” the whole show to ensure that you get a full view of the product categories of interest to you. I will again be creating a GPE Exhibitor Visit Planner that allows attendees to plan their floor time by targeting the exhibitors with products of interest. The GPE 2022 SuperSearch will be made available by March 2nd and be regularly updated with last minute changes. Now, let’s take a look at the results from this year’s research on exhibitors’ product offerings.
First, we’ll Compare Exhibitor Types – By function: By Animal type (Numbers are based assigned booths as of 2/20/22)
Dogs & Cats had a slight flip in share, but the other 10 categories basically maintained existing gain/loss trends.
- Dogs Still Rule – They are still in about 83% of all booths. 5 out of every 6 booths are selling dog products.
- Cats are also maintaining their share. Cat Products are offered by 56% of exhibitors. Up from 40% in 2014.
- Fish/Aquatic – This category had the biggest decrease of the animal types and is down 43% since 2017.
- Other Animals – In a continuing trend, all gained share. Reptiles & Small Animals had the biggest increases.
- Business Services – Besides wellness products, this is the other big trend in the Industry. The lift is driven by private label/OEM and reflects the changing needs in the industry. There were only 8 exhibitors in 2014.
- Distributors – The count is the same as 2020 so the share increased. Only 8 exhibited in 2014.
- Gift/Gen Mdse – This category has been consistently declining since peaking at 7.8% in 2016.
Dogs and Cats are the undisputed royalty of Pet. Because of their huge impact on the industry. I have divided the products designed for them into 33 subcategories. Let’s see how this year’s GPE Top Ten (by booth count) are doing.
The top 4 are the same as 2020 and the top 2 had the biggest gains in share. There was a shuffling in the rankings from 5>10 – 3 moved up in rank and 3 fell. Grooming Tools returned to the Top 10 as Crates/Carriers fell to #12.
- Treats are still #1 and their share grew 10+%. 1 in 2 booths offers treats. (Many supplements are in treat form.)
- OTC Meds/Supplements/Devices also continues to grow in importance. In 2014, their share was only 11%.
- Food had the 3rd largest gain and reflects the ever-growing Pet Parent focus on nutrition, health and wellness.
- Feeding Accessories gained share but were passed by Food. They are perennially ranked 5th or 6th.
- Toys – Toys held onto #3 despite having the 2nd biggest loss in share. This relates to fewer Far East exhibitors.
- Collars, Leads & Harnesses – They held the #4 spot and their share has been stable since 2019 after falling from 22.1% in 2018. In 2016, they also had a 22.1% share but that earned them the #2 ranking.
- Beds/Mats – Their share decline began in 2019 and continues as they fell from a tie for 5th to 7th.
- Apparel – They held the #7 spot from 2016>19 with a 12% share. They began to decline in 2020 and had the biggest drop in share in 2022. They have now fallen to 9th
- Waste Pickup – They have been growing in popularity. They broke into the Top 10 in 2020 and now rank 8th.
- Grooming Tools– After years at 9/10, they fell to #12 in 2020 but they returned to #10 with a 1.1% gain in share.
Pet Parents’ concern for the overall health and wellness of their “pet children” remains the biggest trend.
The last chart details the specifics for all 33 of the Dog/Cat product categories that I defined. Of note: All the data inputs for this report and the SuperSearch tool come from a review of the GPE online exhibitor product listings AND visits to over 700 websites. They’re not 100% accurate, but pretty close. Which categories are of interest to your business?
GPE 2022 is the place to literally see big Pet Industry ideas come to life! There are products, services and education to fulfill every need and want. There is also an abundance of “new” – both in products and the 120 exhibitors who are new to Pet Industry shows. However, to reap the benefits, you need a plan. Exhibitors must showcase the “right” items. Attendees need to strategically analyze their data, determine what they need to improve their business and develop a plan to find the products to fulfill their needs. Then…execute the plan. If they do nothing else at GPE, attendees will have 2 minutes and 3 seconds to spend at each booth. With bigger booths and mergers/consolidations, you definitely need a plan! The GPE 2022 SuperSearch will be available next week. It can help. Try it out. Stay Safe & Good luck in Orlando!