Pets

Fitbits for dogs are poised to go barking mad in 2017

By Oliver Smith 9 January 2017
Summary

Overweight, under-walked and lonely, is it time to buy a fitness tracker for your pet?

Has your dog gained a little puppy fat over Christmas?

This year fitness trackers, not for people, but for animals, are expected to boom in popularity.

It’s one of the key predictions from mobile analyst group CCS Insight this week, that major pet food brands will start giving away fitness trackers for cats and dogs in 2017.

“Our pets are suffering from many of the same malaises as the rest of the human race, they’re not getting walked enough, they’re overweight, they’re lacking social interaction because everyone’s out at work every day,” CCS Insight’s chief of research, Ben Wood, told The Memo.

“This is throwing up a whole lot of opportunities in building technology around the pet space.”

Pet fitness trackers – like PitPat that we met at Crufts dog show last year – being one of them.

And the upcoming boom isn’t just speculation, the world’s biggest pet food groups have already spotted the opportunity, and they’re moving quickly.

Doggie data

In 2016 Mars – maker of Mars bars, M&Ms and Snickers as well as pet food like Whiskas and Pedigree – bought pet fitness tracker group Whistle reportedly for more than $100m.

It was a huge deal, and likely won’t be the last time we see a young pet tracking business snapped up because of the valuable data this technology could collect.

“A tracker could collect data on how active a dog is, how much it weighs and, for pet food companies, how much pet food needs to be provided for Pedigree to launch a monthly dog food subscription,” says Wood.

“Or imagine the Whiskers Tracker where cat owners could share their cat’s activity online, you could even have competitions or incentives to get your cat moving more.”

For non-pet owners this might all sound far-fetched, that’s until you realise pets have almost equal status to children in the millions of families around the world who spend a combined $70bn a year on food for their pets alone.

For these families pet competitions and pet food subscriptions are just the start.

Next steps

“In the future [pet food brands] could even bundle-in discounted pet insurance, based on the activity of your animals,” says Wood.

That might sound far-fetched, but it’s essentially what Vitality insurance is already doing for humans by giving away discounted Apple Watches for its more active customers.

“The global pet food industry is worth billions of dollars every year, in any industry that’s worth that kind of money there’s opportunities to make more money.”

So brace yourself for the upcoming wave of pet fitness trackers, they’re only just the start.