Should Luxury Tap Into China’s Booming Pet Economy?

What Happened: This week, top Chinese livestreamer Li Jiaqi’s five pet dogs are showcasing their short but high-profile careers at a trade show in Shanghai.

First seen by fans in Li’s livestreaming sessions, the five Bichon Frises recently became the intellectual property of Meione, the same agency representing Li. Their collective brand, called Never’s Family, debuted in October 2020. And over the past three days, they were showcasing brand collaborations from LVMH skincare brand Fresh, suitcase-maker Rimowa, and Chinese underwear startup Bananain at the Shanghai Creative Expo.

Li Jiaqi’s five dogs, under the brand name Never’s Family, have already worked with LVMH’s skincare brand Fresh and suitcase-maker Rimowa. Photo: Meione.

While celebrity dogs like Never’s Family help broaden the reach of fashion and cosmetics brands in China, the pet economy has also seen a recent influx of capital via the country’s pet lifestyle startups. In mid-December, the pet lifestyle brand Vetreska closed its B-series funding at $20 million. The company, which was founded in 2017, has many viral products, including suitcase-shaped pet carriers and cat trees that resemble cacti. The investment arm of the Chinese tech company Xiaomi also bet on two pet lifestyle brands — Kittens & Puppies and Furry Tail — in late 2019 as part of their smart home strategy.

Jing Take:  In the pet lifestyle arena, some luxury brands have already seen a booming demand from their customers. Examples include Moncler x Poldo Dog Couture collection from Fall of 2020 and Canadian e-tailer Ssense’s dogwear collaborations with Burberry, Versace, and Paul Smith in 2019.


Moncler launched its first-ever dog wear collection in Fall 2020 with Poldo Couture. Photo: Courtesy of Moncler.

But why should luxury go any further than stylish pet collars & clothes in China? Firstly, China’s pet economy is on a high-growth trajectory. In 2019, the market research company Euromonitor International predicted China’s pet market would grow at an average rate of 18.2 percent a year over the next five years. The pet-oriented social networking site suggests this consumption is mostly being driven by single, urban customers.

Although China’s nascent pet lifestyle brands do not directly compete with luxury dog collections, the former’s fun marketing and product messages have set high expectations for Chinese consumers. That means they might want more than just the basics for their four-legged friends.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.


Market Analysis, Marketing