Japan is the world’s second largest market for pet products after the United States. The market was estimated to be about US$1.9 billion in Japanese Fiscal Year1 (JFY) 2010. The market is expected to continue growing as Japanese pet owners spend more on their pets. Major industry trends are increasing numbers of indoor pets, growing popularity of small dogs and an increasing number of elderly dogs and cats. The market is highly competitive due to low priced imports from other Asian countries. Opportunities exist for high-quality, high-end, unique U.S. pet products that address the trends noted above.
This report focuses on consumer pet products for cats and dogs, which include sanitation products (pet toilets, pet urine-absorbing pads, diapers, and cat litter), grooming products, training products, apparel, toys and accessories. For information on pet foods, pet nutritional supplements and veterinary products, contact the appropriate office/specialist from the contact information available in the “Resources and Contacts” section at the end of this report.
The Japanese pet industry has been growing as Japanese pet owners continue to spend more on their pets. While there are unique and unusual pets available in Japan, dogs and cats are the most common pets in Japan. As of 2010, there were 11.9 million dogs and 9.6 million cats (excluding outdoor cats) kept as pets in Japan. The number of dogs and cats has been declining since it peaked at 24.0 million in 2008. As of 2010, there were 16.9 million children 14 years or younger as compared to 21.5 million pet dogs and cats.
Although the number of dogs and cats started to decline after 2008, a survey conducted by the Japan Pet Food Association in 2010 showed that the intention of owning a pet was nearly twice the current pet ownership level - indicating potential demand for pet products. The pet products market is expected to continue growing as new products and services are introduced to meet the trends in the industry. Major social factors contributing to this growth are a declining birthrate, an increase in single-person households, and an aging population. Singles, couples without children as well as retired couples treat their pets as companions, part of the family or even as substitutes for children.
The environment has been changing for pets and pet owners. Commercial facilities, such as shopping malls and hotels that allow pets are increasing. Pet owners who enjoy taking their pets to places often utilize pet carry bags and sometimes pet strollers.
Major trends in the pet industry are an increasing number of indoor pets, increasing popularity of small dogs, and an increasing number of elderly dogs and cats.
According to the 2010 survey conducted by the Japan Pet Food Association, 72.0 percent of the pet dogs and 77.3 percent of the pet cats in Japan are kept indoors. The number of apartments that allow pets is increasing and pet-friendly home designs that incorporate foot shower for dogs, cat walk and etc. have been introduced. Due to the increasing number of indoor pets, pet products for use indoors, such as pet sheets and cat litter are selling well in the market.
Small dogs have been popular in Japan and for the past 10 years the top three dog breeds in Japan have been poodles, Chihuahuas and Dachshunds. Most of the apartments that allow pets in Japan generally allow only small size pets and in many cases, pet owners must carry them in the common area of the apartment complex.
The number of elderly dogs and cats are increasing in Japan. According to the Japan Pet Food Association, 47.9 percent of the pet dogs and 42.0 percent of the pet cats were 7 years old or over in 2010. Pet owners care for the health of their pets and various new services have been introduced to promote the health of pets as well as to care for aging pets. Pet spa and pet day care services are just some of the examples.
According to Yano Research Institute, the overall pet industry in Japan, including pet sales and pet-related products and services was worth 1.3 trillion Japanese yen (JPY) or US$11.3 billion in JFY 2007 (April – March). The industry has been increasing by about 2 percent annually, and it is projected to reach JPY1.4 trillion (US$17.6 billion) in JFY2011.
The size of the pet products market in Japan was worth JPY154 billion (US$1.3 billion) in JFY2007 and has been increasing by about 2.58 percent annually. Yano Research Institute projects that the market will reach JPY167 billion (US$ 2.1 billion) in JFY2011.
According to the Pet Business Market Size table (retail sales basis) in the “Pet Business Handbook 2011” published by Sankei Medix, training products for pets and deodorizers had the largest increase of approximately 10 percent in sales from JFY2008 to JFY2009. Sales of sanitation products including pet toilets, pet urineabsorbing pads, diapers and cat litter increased approximately 5 percent and pet mats and beds as well as apparel and accessories had more than a 3 percent increase during the same period.
It is critical for market entrants to be able to provide high-value-added pet products to compete with low-priced imports from other Asian countries. New types of products that have not been introduced in the Japanese market may have potential.
Many American-made pet products are received well in Japan and Japanese consumers have positive images of U.S. pet products as having good design.
As Table 5 above shows, products for indoor pets are growing in sales and it reflects the current market trend of an increasing number of indoor pets. Pet training products and training toys are popular items for pet owners who keep their pets indoors. While sanitation products, such as pet urine absorbing pads, diapers and cat litter are also growing in sales, pet owners tend to be price sensitive when it comes to these consumables. On the other hand, pet products that are for external use are expected to continue decreasing.
The number of elderly dogs and cats are increasing and pet owners are becoming conscientious about the health of their pets. Pet care products that cater to specific needs to promote pet well-being or to assist elderly dogs may find opportunity in the Japanese market.
Japanese pet owners enjoy dressing up their pets. High-quality designer pet accessories and apparel for small dogs using rhinestones and ribbons are received well in Japan. As with pet apparel, pretty designs are popular for collars and leashes. Red, pink and blue are the most popular colors for these items.
As for toys, pet owners often look at the type of materials used for toys because they are concerned about the safety of their pets, especially when they chew or swallow them. Double-income couples without children as well as singles who need to leave pets at home find training toys useful.
After the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred on March 11, 2011, products for the safety of pets, such as pet evacuation pack, pet safety jackets, paw protection and etc. have become more available in the Japanese market. Unique safety products for pets that are new to the Japanese market may have good opportunity. Because of the popularity of small dogs, pet shops carry various kinds of products for small dogs, however pet products for large dogs are often sold through special order or online.