Aug 09, 2023
Corporate News / Feature Story
Product Innovations Position Panasonic to Tap Asia’s Growing Love Affair with Household Pets
Pet market trends point to continued growth
Pet ownership continues to grow worldwide. According to Bloomberg Intelligence, the pet industry is expected to reach nearly $500 billion by 2030, up from $320 billion in 2023, driven by an expanding pet population worldwide and growing emphasis on premium pet foods and services. Health for Animals, a global association of animal health providers, attributes the increase in pet ownership to demographic change, rising income levels in emerging economies, the coronavirus pandemic, and increased humanization of pets.
Anyone who has lived with a pet understands how quickly a new companion can become a member of the family, with their own needs and challenges. Panasonic Group is committed to applying the technological expertise it has cultivated in home appliances and building materials to realize a society in which pets and their human families comfortably coexist in an environment of harmony and well-being. Let’s take a look at some of the ideas we’ve been developing in Asia.
China pursuing new value for younger generations
China’s pet market has been booming, with interest in ownership, products, and services increasing in step with improved standards of living and a desire for companionship fostered during the coronavirus pandemic, when people found themselves spending more time at home. Key demographics include young urban couples and single-person households. Pet-related products are an area where Panasonic can take advantage of know-how and core technologies accumulated in the development of home appliances.
China Northeast Asia Company Limited (CNA) has responded to the growth in the market for household pets by launching a series of pet-related products that can help owners meet the needs of their furry friends. Many are not yet available in Japan or other markets, but were on display in the Panasonic booth at the China Appliance Expo (AWE) 2023, held April 27–30 at the New International Expo Center in Shanghai.
Explaining CNA’s approach to brand development, Tan Yuewen, General Manager, Product Development Division, Smart Life Appliance Business Department, CNA Inc. said: “Our brand loyalty tends to be higher among the older generation, so courting younger people, including Gen Z, is important for future growth. Focusing on products that the younger generation can appreciate is an effective way to foster brand affinity. We want Gen Z to become fans of our company, and when they become homeowners, we want them to adopt Panasonic products for their entire living space.”
“Prior to the pandemic, people consumed products to lead a more affluent life, but today, consumption is more rational. On the other hand, the penetration of e-commerce and the shift toward marketing products through applications like TikTok means that the speed at which people make purchasing decisions is incredibly fast—the average is within seven seconds of viewing a product,” said Yuewen.
The key point is to develop and promote products that appeal to all generations, and the growing interest in pet ownership provides an opportunity to engage with consumers of all age groups. “We need to introduce products with high overall value in terms of design, price, and function. We intend to develop the Chinese market for pet-related products, export them back to Japan, and further expand into the Asian market.”
Japan promoting comfortable cohabitation for people, pets
Due to Japan’s compact indoor spaces, the domestic pet market is dominated by cats and small dogs that fit comfortably with the scale of the living environment. The dense nature of Japanese cities leaves little space between houses, while relatively thin walls means that noise is often not suppressed, so pet owners in Japan are hypersensitive about both pet noise and odors. Japan is also one of several markets that humanizes cats and dogs, which are viewed as proper “members of the family.”
Responding to these characteristics, Panasonic’s Building Systems Division has developed a variety of pet-related products that meet the unique needs of pet owners in Japan. The team used recent 12th Interpets Exhibition at Tokyo Big Sight to showcase its Wan-Nyan Smile concept for homes where dogs and cats can live in harmony with their owners.
The Wan-Nyan Smile lineup is divided into three product concepts—creating places to stay, devices for controlling movement, and devices for pet care.
Places to stay products include interior counters, shelves, and cat walks that can be arranged to allow your feline friends to safely access wall and window spaces, satisfying their natural curiosity and providing comfortable places to relax.
Devices for controlling movement both facilitate freedom of action or restrict pet access to certain spaces.
The Kuguri Door is a specially designed door with a flap portal at the bottom that allows dogs and cats to freely enter and leave a room. Made of soft, flexible material, the flap is kind to pets, easy to clean, and creates a seal to prevent excess air flow and energy consumption when heating or air-conditioning is being used.
Veritis Floor S (Slip consideration specification) reduces the burden on dog and cat feet and legs. For older pets, it helps ensure stable footing and prevents loss of balance, while younger, active pets that need a lot of exercise can safely and comfortably roam around the room without fear of injury.
Turning to the pet care concept, the Care Corner is a water-accessible area within the living room that includes a washing/grooming table and stain-resistant flooring for fun and stress-free care of your pet.
At the Interpets Exhibition, Panasonic’s booth was designed to emphasize the Panasonic Group’s comprehensive strength by showcasing Wan-Nyan Smile concepts together with other advanced products. The booth included a functioning Wan-Nyan Smile space, allowing visitors to experience the Kuguri Door and Veritis Floor S (Slip consideration specification). Other products included the ziaino sodium hypochlorite sterilizing and deodorizing air cleaner; the HD Pet Camera, which allows owners to remotely check on their pets; and the Stick Vacuum Cleaner, which offers powerful suction for easy cleaning of pet hair.
The aim of this exhibition was, of course, to introduce products directly to pet owners.
It was a cute experience, and we were able to shoot videos that will help strengthen promotional activity in the future.
“The response from pet families was overwhelmingly positive,” said Koichiro Minamide, Sales Strategy Planning Department, Building Systems Division. “I received a lot of joyful comments from people who had been having a hard time.”
“During the four days of the exhibition, as many as 187 dogs and cats experienced the gated entrance and slip-resistant flooring—well beyond our expected turnout,” said Minamide. “We also received very positive feedback, such as ‘My Baby could pass through!’, ‘It’s really hard to slip!’, and ‘I want one!’.”
“We were also reminded of the fact that owners usually live with their dogs and cats while facing such problems as having to leave doors open, which can lead to high utility bills, and anxiety about slipping, especially for older dogs. We would like to make use of this valuable experience in our future promotion and product development.”
Panasonic’s Wan-Nyan Smile building materials have been provided to the facilities of Animal Refuge Kansai, an animal protection NPO, to support the creation of spaces where rescued cats and dogs can live more comfortably.
Are insects the answer for more sustainable and nutritional pet foods?
Game Changer Catapult is a unique program that taps into the ideas and knowhow of Panasonic employees to foster business startups that have the potential to yield new solutions to challenges facing society. One of these challenges is sustainable pet food.
A frequently cited study by the University of California, Los Angeles indicates 25–30 percent of the total meat consumption in the US is for dogs and cats. It is well understood that raising livestock for human consumption requires significant resources, such as feed, water, and land, placing a heavy burden on the global environment. Under the Game Changer Catapult, Ron Whiteford, Assistant Chief, Solution Development Division, Lighting Development Center, Electric Works Company, has been applying lighting and manufacturing technologies to cultivate insects as a protein ingredient in sustainable and nutritious animal feeds and pet foods.
“By utilizing organic waste byproducts as food for insects, we are aiming to achieve a circular-economy business model that contributes to the reduction of organic waste and the creation of a more environmentally friendly society,” said Whiteford, whose solution cultivates black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) for processing into insect meal.
BSFL is a complete animal protein with all nine essential amino acids, and has been approved for use in adult dog and cat foods and treats by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) in the United States.
Insect farming requires substantially less food, water, and land resources than traditional livestock and generates lower greenhouse gas emissions.
For the future
Panasonic is committed to harnessing the synergy of the Group to deliver new products and services that help support the lifelong health, safety, and comfort of each and every person—and their furry companions.
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