Time and again, consumer trends point out that people are increasingly pampering their pets as if they were children. Or is it the other way around? In any event, they’re both pretty spoiled.
“There’s Never Been a Better Time to Be a Dead Pet,” the headline for a Businessweek story proclaims. Despite some indication that owners are scaling back on luxury pet expenses such as crystal-encrusted dog collars, and that owners are opting for pet cremations over elaborate pet burials as a cost-saving measure, it’s undeniable that pet owners are memorializing their pets when they pass away like never before.
The story states that there are now somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 aftercare facilities for deceased pets in the U.S. A decade ago, there were virtually none. What’s explains the sharp rise in facilities specializing in funerals, cremations, and burials for pets?
“You really can’t put your finger on it,” says Ed Martin Jr., the director of Hartsdale Pet Cemetery and Crematory in Hartsdale, N.Y. “I used to think this was something for older women who never had children. Or very wealthy people. But we get everybody: men, women, rich, poor, young, old.”
The Boston Globe, meanwhile, highlights dog strollers—some that retail for over $350—as the “latest in pet pampering.” A dog stroller is the perfect product for walking around with a pooch that is “infirm, old—or just a little lazy,” the story explains.
The doggie stroller is the natural next step after the rise of Baby Bjorn-like pet pouches, used for keeping tiny dogs (and sometimes cats) quite literally close to the owner’s heart. Only strollers can be used to keep much bigger dogs, some upwards of 150 pounds, from having to use their own four legs.
Chalk it up the dog stroller as yet another example of how owners increasingly treat their pets just as good as family—better, sometimes. Previous examples include the rise of fine dining for pets, pet tattoos, and luxury designer doghouses that run tens of thousands of dollars.
If owners are treating their pets like kids, sparing no expense in making them comfortable in every way imaginable, what are parents doing for their actual children? Spoiling them rotten, the consensus seems to be.
Over the summer, a New Yorker essay by Elizabeth Kolbert argued that “contemporary American kids may represent the most indulged young people in the history of the world”:
It’s not just that they’ve been given unprecedented amounts of stuff—clothes, toys, cameras, skis, computers, televisions, cell phones, PlayStations, iPods. (The market for Burberry Baby and other forms of kiddie “couture” has reportedly been growing by ten per cent a year.) They’ve also been granted unprecedented authority. “Parents want their kids’ approval, a reversal of the past ideal of children striving for their parents’ approval,” Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, both professors of psychology, have written.
This explains why parents may be willing to pay on vacations for things like pedicures for toddlers, Rolls-Royce rides just for kids, and other child-focus splurges at hotels and resorts—a trend covered recently by the Wall Street Journal. (There are plenty of hotels catering to pets too, some with pet beauty parlors, pet massage services, and such.)
According to fairly unsurprising data from Bundle.com, the nation’s most spoiled children reside in New York City. Specifically, in Manhattan, where parents spend double the U.S. average on their kids, and Brooklyn, where hipster trends like “babycinnos” are born.
Not far down on the list for most spoiled kids is another trendsetting city, Los Angeles, where, the LA Times reports, a new website called Spoiled! (SpoiledFashionz.com) has been launched. It’s an online consignment boutique strictly for designer kids clothes—a blue Burberry coat, girls size 6 months, that has been “gently worn,” being offered for $120, for example, and a D&G Polo for boys, Size 6, for $40, as another.
The site was created by CeCe Hendriks, a 41-year-old retired actress and self-proclaimed “Social Light” who admits that her son, Jordan, owner of over 100 pairs of shoes, is indeed spoiled. After growing tired of spending a fortune on Jordan’s fashions, only to give them away, she decided to create Spoiled! because it “gives people who can’t afford that the opportunity to be fashionable.”
Hendriks says, though, that the clothing on her site—some of it consignments from celebrity families—is just too good to simply give away to the needy:
“There are people on certain levels who have nowhere to take these clothes. You don’t want to give them to Goodwill because you spent so much money,” said Hendriks, who gives consignees 50% of the proceeds from sold items and donates 10% of her net profits to Jenesse Center, a national nonprofit domestic violence intervention and prevention organization.