Truelogic Episode 99 Recap: Connected Cats vs Digital Dogs


Podcast Transcription

Berns San Juan: Have you heard of a bull market, no, it’s not the beef industry, but if you’ve heard of a bull market, we’re going to be talking about the dog and cat markets in the Philippines. For those of you that have been following us through, approximately, about a hundred episodes, you’ll know that I’m a geek and there is, a lot of stuff that we research at Truelogic. And just one of the things that we like to research is where trends go and what are the economic numbers that affect those trends.

And you know, being a pet owner myself, being a fur dad myself, we decided that one of the things that we wanted to explore was what are the popularity and the economic impacts of dogs and cats in the Philippine context. Because in the Philippines, pets aren’t just, you know, pets are not just pets. Like I think gone are the days where you got a dog because you needed a guard dog for your house, right? Like today they’re more members of the family.

There used to be a joke in my generation where my friends and I used to tell each other, if you wanna know if your parents are waiting for grandkids, wait to see if they adopt a pet. And when they do, that’s it. That’s the sign that they’re starting to demand grandkids. So today we’re going to be talking about winners and losers, the demand for dogs, and the demand for cats digitally and economically.

Pet-Related Google Searches in the Philippines

Berns San Juan:  So let’s begin with search, right? Because that’s what I do day in and day out. And let’s take a look at data from pet-related Google searches. So there are a couple of sources for this. We use Semrush to figure out what the search volumes are. We are Social, Meltwater Digital’s 2024 report to come up with some of this data. So cats versus dogs, by search volume, there are over 10 billion dog-related searches that are done in the Philippines on an annual basis. Over 10 billion searches. There are 8 billion cat-related searches that are done on Google in the Philippine context year on year on year on year. By the way, for a keyword, that’s pretty high volume. For a keyword, that’s a pretty high volume.

However, given that the pet industries and pet-related industries are not very optimized. That volume does not necessarily connotate competitiveness yet in terms of doing digital marketing. So Google Trends also reveals that there are about 80% more searches to be done for dogs than there are for cats. So you’ll notice that the interest in dogs is higher. Google Trends is not, search volume, right? Like, Google Trends reveals that there are about 80% more searches for dogs than cats or 80% more interest in dogs than cats.

But when it comes to Wikipedia entries, cats have the upper hand, or in this case, the upper paw, because there are more Wikipedia entries on cats than there are on dogs. And the ratio of cat entries versus dog entries in Wikipedia is about two to one. So I guess you can tell the difference right, dog owners like to post videos and cat owners like to create Wikipedia articles.

But Wikipedia seems to be the only triumph for cats like specifically in 2023 because when it comes to social media, dogs win right, if cats have the upper paw on Wikipedia, dogs win videos, paws down. On Instagram, there were over 376 million posts that were related to dogs or at least tagged #dog compared to 290 million tagged with #cat. That’s almost a 100 million post difference between the two of them.

On TikTok too, dogs are big, big, big winners. Their dog videos garnered a total of 575 billion views, a billion with a B compared to, you know, not a big lag, about 502 billion TikToks tagged with hashtag cat. And put together, that means that, you know, pet videos, dog and cat videos together generate about a trillion views globally. On Twitter currently known as X, there is a hefty 291 million, actually closer to 292 million users that express interest in dogs compared to the less than 50 million users who are interested in cats. And again, this is on X.

dogs running and playing

Now, let’s limit the search down to the Philippine context. Spoiler alert. And this is intuitive to everybody, but of course, I’m biased because I’m a dog owner myself. Interest in dogs is higher than in cats. Between January 2023 going all the way to January 2024, the average Google Trends score for cats is, about 36. The average Google Trends score for dogs is about 50. The top queries that are related to cats in the Philippines are cat, cats, Persian, Persian cat, cat food, Siamese cat, and cat breed. These volumes are highest in the autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao, the Western Visayas region, with Metro Manila being only 8th place for cat-related searches in the Philippines.

Now let’s talk dogs. For dogs, the top queries are dog, dogs, dog food, dog breed, dog breeds, dog name, small dog, and shih tzu. So if you’ve got a Shih Tzu, you’re pretty common. Okay, regions with the highest interest for dogs. Up Western Visayas is the area with the highest interest. Now on this, I might say, remember this data is isolated to 2023. The reason it might not be Metro Manila is because Metro Manila probably exhausted all dog and cat searches in 2020. And in 2023, a lot of the country is catching up. ARMM, which was the region with the highest interest for cat-related searches, has the lowest interest when it comes to dog-related searches.

Now, I wonder if there’s something cultural to that worth a little more geeky research. And Metro Manila is only in 10th place, right? Like, we’re 8th place for cat searches, and Metro Manila is 10th place for dog searches. iPrice, which is an e-commerce aggregator, said that the Philippines was responsible for the most pet-related Google searches of any nation in Southeast Asia. So of all ASEAN nations, we seem to be the ones that perform the most searches that are related to pets. Google searches for pets totaled roughly 12.9 million. This is up 88% compared to its 2019 figure, so a near doubling.

In 2019, I believe the total number of pet-related searches in the Southeast Asian region was about 6.8 million. When we all got locked down during COVID, it went from 6.8 to 11.3, right? That’s almost double. And then in 2021, it went up by another 1.6 million, so about 12.9 million Google searches. Insane! That’s a huge search volume. Also, according to iPrice, Filipino searches for pets from Jan to September 2021 increased by 118%. So probably the period with the largest surge and it makes it the highest increase in the Southeast Asian region.

The country that contributes next to this, to, no surprise, is Malaysia, right? Like because they’re similar to us. If you go to Singapore, one of the things you’ll notice is there aren’t a lot of houses. Most of the homes there are apartments, right? And if you guys live in a condo where pets are not allowed, then you sort of know why pet searches are not very popular in areas that are like that.

iPrice also revealed that Southeast Asians’ interest in dogs is over five times more than their interest in cats. However, what I might say is, that dog ownership is probably two-thirds of the Philippine population, but cat ownership is about two-fifths of the Philippine population. So if we talk about pet ownership in the Philippines, the Philippines is in the top seven countries worldwide with the highest dog population. And it’s estimated that there are over 20 million dogs and about 8 million cats. Now if you run through my village, I don’t believe this. Like, can’t be 8 million. They seem to be everywhere. Cats seem to be everywhere.

Pet Ownership in the Philippines

woman with her pet cat

Berns San Juan: Now, a couple of interesting insights from agencies and institutions that attempted to estimate dog ownership in the Philippines. So in, FCI, which is an international organization, estimated that there are nearly 12 million dog owners in the Philippines. So makes sense, makes sense. This is sort of consistent with the Philippine Canine Club’s estimate of about 12 million pet owners in the Philippines, but an estimate from the Philippine Canine Club assumes that there are about 10.8 million dogs or at least dogs that are pets, in the country.

I think part of the reason why their estimates of pet owners versus the actual number of pets are different might be because there are couples. And of course, both of them identify as pet owners, but they might only have one pet. Right? Like so… But the numbers are fairly consistent. The number of pets is roughly at around 11 million. The number of pet owners is roughly at around 12 million. An estimate of cat ownership in the Philippines was published by Rakuten, the guys that own Viber. And what they said was that about 43% of people have a cat in the house.

And so, as we established earlier, the Philippines is, a dog country, right? It’s a nation of dog lovers, but we also have a strong affinity with cats. So, 26% of households across the Asia Pacific own cats, but 42% of Filipino households have at least one feline in the household, right? And so we are the ones that are pulling that average higher. So what does this mean economically, how much economic participation does the pet renaissance, you know, thank you COVID, but how much economic activity does this pet renaissance contribute to the economy altogether?

Opportunities for Businesses in the Pet Industry

Berns San Juan: There was a figure that was released by the US Department of Agriculture because they’re the ones that monitor like pet food is an adjunct agricultural product and it estimates that pet food sales from the US to the Philippines could grow by 9%, meaning it becomes about $434 million this year. That’s nuts. That’s huge. $434 million in pet food sales to the Philippines. Digest that number. That’s almost half a billion dollars in pet food. The sale of pet-related products through online channels more than doubled in four years. And so we’re talking about the online pet category sales being like 4 million in 2017, jumping to 9.9 million in 2021. And that’s about an increase of, I would say roughly 25%. That’s an increase of 25% year on year on year on year to get from 4 million in 2017 to 2021, to 2021’s 9.9 million, almost 10 million.

Up in 2022, dog food accounted for $331 million while cat food accounted for $61 million. Not a lot. Makes sense right? Dogs are huge, cats are small, so they couldn’t possibly eat you out of a house and home. Nearly 3 out of 10 pet owners in the Philippines actually will spend on their pets. Now this is a number I’m actually, this is a number from Statista that I’m highly skeptical of. I don’t spend 500 pesos, like $10 a month on any of my dogs, right? My small dogs get a budget of like $60 a month. My big dog costs me over $200 a month, right? So not a chance. So not a chance, it’s just 500 pesos per month. Maybe 10 out of 10 spend 500 pesos a month, right?

cat and dog eating

But that also says that the Philippines has gotten to accounting for a different spend, a different budget for their pets and this sort of makes sense. Based on the current figures, the pet food market in the Philippines is expected to rise by about 14.6% or rise by 14.6% in 2023. And so that alone, not all sales, but that alone would bring total revenue in the sector to about 142 million. But this includes pet food, for all pet types, and it doesn’t exclude expenditures like toys, healthcare, toothbrushes, and costumes, right? Like whatever, you guys know what you spend on for your pets.

But if dog-related products are going to see an increase of 14.6%, cat-related products are expected to see an increase of about 9%. So where are we going with this data? Essentially, and I think as many of you guys suspected, the winner in the dog economy versus the cat economy is the dog economy, right? Like larger, there are just more households, 60% of households versus 42% of households for cats. There are just more households in the Philippines that own dogs, households that own a dog will tend to own more than one. Dogs cost more money, they’re larger, and they eat more.

They are treated like members of the family that are trade-related businesses, like the economic activity as it relates to pets is close to about half a billion dollars or hundred and some million dollars annually. Right. That’s a big boost to the economy. That’s a lot of economic activity with food only covering like 142 million. So, and that’s granted. Search volumes are healthy, and the digital space is non-competitive. So I guess what I’m getting at is, that now is a great time to get into the pet business, right? Now is a great time to get into the pet business. Not competitive, high volume, high growth potential.

With that being said, I want to thank you for joining me again on this episode of the Truelogic DX Podcast. This has been a winners and losers episode. And I hope you join me again for the next episode. Subscribe to our Spotify, Google, and Apple accounts so that you can get alerts whenever we publish a new one.  I want to thank our marketing team for continuing to power the podcast as well as our friends on Podmachine. If you have topics you’d like us to talk about, feel free to drop them in the comments section. And if there are people you want us to talk to, feel free to add that too. We’re listening. And I’ll see you in the next episode. Thank you very much. Cheers.

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