New little family members in pandemic

Yulia Dolzhenkova

Internet statistics demonstrates a huge increase in interest to all kinds of live small animals: rodents and rabbits, since March this year in Russia. But isolation is not the only demand driver.

Hamsters

Interest to buying a hamster started to grow in November, 2019, and reached its peak, +41%, in December. It proves that hamsters are considered as a good X-mas present. By the middle of March, 2020, the interest cooled down, but started to grow again with the lockdown. In May the amount of inquiries was even higher than in December last year. Until August it slowed down again, but still stays higher than average.

As regards of accessories, there were two peak-zones. The first one – early January, when fresh hamster parents had to organize their X-mas presents’ lives. The second one – from mid-March until May with the growth 25–30% to the same period in 2019. The same dynamics is observed in beds and other accessories, with a little downturn by July.

Requests for hamster food are distributed unevenly over the year. The overall level of requests increased by about 42% compared to 2019. But in absolute numbers, the interest in the internet in hamster food is much lower than the interest in buying live animals and accessories for them. Most probably, people still prefer to buy food offline in a specialized store, where they can consult with a specialist, or in a supermarket together with products for themselves.

Rats

Russians are superstitious. They also believe in horoscopes, signs, talismans, mascots. That was the reason for enormous growth of rats popularity in the end of 2019 – the symbol of 2020 according to the Chinese calendar is a rat. The interest started to grow in September yet, by November the number of inquiries was 50% higher and it boosted by 76% more in the end of the year.

In the beginning of the lockdown the popularity of rats was at November 2019 level, which is still very high and by May it grew again by 62%.

Interest in rat food grew steadily from September 2019 to mid-May 2020 and by this time almost tripled (+ 284%). By July, requests went down and dropped by 25%.

Bunnies

On the opposite to what was mentioned above and to the Western world, Easter in Russia has nothing to do with bunnies. There is no correlation between this holiday and live rabbits purchase. Nevertheless, spring 2020 faced 17% growth in bunnies’ popularity from mid-March till May. Due to the lockdown people wanted to have a small pet. And the interest faded away (-22%) by July.

Guinea pigs and degu

The dynamics for these animals is exactly the same as with all others – a significant growth from mid-March until May, then a little decrease down to August.

Requests for Guinea pig food began to grow in March 2020, peaked in mid-April (+28%), then decreased. However, in May-July, the level of requests remained about 17% higher than the average for the previous year.

Little One and Versele Laga were most often searched for brands.

Degu feed showed growth in February, reaching a peak (+65%) in April and falling back to the February level by July.

Guinea pig cages have been actively searched since mid-March with a peak in May (+74%). Again there were many times more requests for cages than for food. Apart from buying, people are also interested in the size of the cage, “what should be in the cage for a Guinea pig”, “how to make a cage by myself”. Ferplast was most often brand to look for.

Chinchillas

Statistics on interest in chinchillas are somewhat out of the general “pandemic” trend – interest in these animals arose a little later. Within the year the number of requests is distributed irregularly: in March 2020 it was low, then a peak in May (+37%, in absolute numbers this is twice as high as last year). In 2019, the surge was observed before the New Year again.

Chinchilla food does not also quite correspond to the general trend. Since March, requests have increased by 23%, then slightly decreased and reached a peak by August (+28% comparing to the beginning of March, +4% to May). But compared to the 2019 average, the increase in requests was 51%.

Demand for cages jumped by almost 60% from mid-March to June. It then declined slightly by 17% at the end of July. It seems that during the period of self-isolation, many Russians were looking for chinchillas and cages for them. As in other categories requests for chinchilla cages are double as high as requests for food.

Conclusion

Internet inquiries statistics on live small mammals and rabbits show that in Russia these pets are a popular X-mas gift. That, unfortunately, means that they are not always a conscious purchase. But this triggers high demand on accessories in the beginning of the year: fresh owners begin to arrange the life of a new pet.

For almost all animal species statistics paint an interesting picture: requests for cages are many times higher than for food. Obviously, the choice of food does not cause many questions for owners and is easier solved in a regular offline store.

The main trend of this year is related to the increased demand for live small animals during the lockdown. A surge of interest to purchase them and, as a result, goods for them was observed from March until May. According to one of the largest Beru marketplace, demand in the rodent accessories category increased by 238%, and sales of cages and houses increased by 211%.


An average a pet store share of small mammals product segment sales accounts for 4% to 7%.


Given the target audience of owners of this category of animals (see the article by S. Lukyanov “Who keeps small mammals in Russia” in this issue), we can assume that these were gifts for children and teenagers. The largest number of requests, according to Yandex, is for rabbits. Now “coronavirus” purchases are reflected in the growth of requests for accessories, feed, as well as sales in pet stores. This is confirmed by many Russian manufacturers and suppliers.

Major pet industry players, i.e. pet retail chains and e-com representatives, small mammal food manufacturers, accessory distributors evidence small mammal food sales growth on 20% to 60% compared to the same period in 2019. Growth in the category of accessories and bedding sales – plus 37% to 50%.

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