Creating Tomorrow: A purr-fect new business opportunity

Unsplash / Autri Taheri

I write this week’s letter to you while sitting gingerly on a plastic chair outside a Halfords (a nationwide chain of garages and bike shops for those of you outside the UK and not familiar with the name), as I wait for our car to get its MOT. Turns out when you don’t drive much thanks to a global pandemic, you forget key dates like your vehicle’s service date.

While I try not to touch too much around me, I scroll through Instagram where previous years’ images would have detailed a litany of holiday snaps. This year instead there is a different recurring theme across my friends’ and the WGSN team’s updates: animals. Not the here-to-make-you-laugh cat memes of yesteryear, but real-life puppies and kittens bought as a direct result of the pandemic.

Just as sales of cosy sweaters and cashmere socks have increased as consumers the world over look to calm themselves, living, breathing furballs have become the ultimate lockdown purchase. And while many of the design industries that WGSN serves, and many of you lead, have suffered as consumers curb their spending patterns, there is one industry which has weathered the storm far better: pets.

Searches are up. Sales are up. Social media posts are definitely up, and a whole new market is opening up for besotted fur-baby parents. But what if you’re not in the pet industry? Well, that’s not stopping some innovative businesses jumping on the bandwagon. Enter brand-new categories such as dog perfume and cat skincare.

At first glance, a “vegan, all-natural, leave-in cucumber facial cleanser with emollients that moisturise and soften” sounds like something I’d be quite happy to have in my own bathroom cabinet, until you hear it’s from a company called Paw Naturel. Meanwhile, only the giveaway word “stains” from Warren London’s “Cucumber Melon Foaming Facial that brightens and removes stains around the mouth and eyes” suggests this isn’t a cleanser designed for humans.

Then there are the beauty brands I do have on my shelves, such as Kiehl’s, Aesop and Malin + Goetz, who have all taken their expertise in human grooming to create new products for pampered pets. Now I just need to persuade my husband that a cat is a brilliant idea for my birthday next week and I can start stocking up on a whole new suite of sweet-smelling products.

Managing Director, WGSN

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