Influencer? Were yesterday! Now four-legged friends are conquering social media. After all, they beat their human counterparts by far when it comes to authenticity and cuteness. The cute fur noses not only make their followers happier, they have also become an important economic factor.
A trend already emerged last year: that of pets. Pandemic, lockdowns and home office solutions made it possible for many. Almost four million animals live in Austria's households - two million of them are cats and around 900,000 dogs. The waiting lists for breeders are long, and the animal shelters are also happy to see an increase in the number of adopters.
The need for a four-legged companion did not only grow among singles, couples and families have also opted for a (further) furry roommate. You can now bring your dog or cat into the house in a different way, namely via your mobile phone screen: "In times of lockdowns, pets are extremely important for many people. The more we had to distance ourselves from others, the more important the animal friends became by our side Whether with or without our own pet: We all spent a lot more time on social media during the pandemic. There petfluencers put a smile on our faces every day - in difficult times it's balm for our souls, "says Julia Karkalis, PR- Professional and co-owner of the petfluencer agency TONY, founded in 2019. "Animal pics have been one of the most popular types of content since day one of the internet.
They come across as personable and trigger positive emotions. Science has also shown that dog-human contact reduces stress. Happiness hormones are released. "Sweet fur noses are definitely the new stars on the Internet, their follower numbers are exploding on various social media channels. One might assume a certain form of escapism, after all, it's good to see light content that is harmless, apolitical and in the best case still funny.
Feel good content
Compared to their human counterparts, petfluencers have a decisive advantage: Followers do not compare themselves to them, and they do not convey an unrealistic ideal of beauty. Watching perfectly styled influencers jet off to Dubai and receive luxurious gifts can make us envious. The animal social media celebrities, on the other hand, provide entertainment and distraction from everyday life. Authenticity is the key to success here: a slight silver look, sail ears, crooked teeth or knock-knees or bow-legs look charming. The more character an animal has, the more enthusiastic the fans are.
Even if most of the animal accounts are run by their owners as a hobby with which they mainly want to entertain family and friends, there is also a real professionalization here. The hype about petfluencers is now so great that they - like bloggers or influencers - are looked after by marketing agencies and managements. Companies are increasingly planning petfluencer marketing as an integral part of their strategy: four-legged friends not only serve as advertising faces for pet food brands, but also for fashion, beauty, travel, car and fitness brands. TONY Unit Director Julia Karkalis: "While you have used animals for commercials or advertisements for decades, you now select four-legged Internet stars who already have their own fan base." Many animals already have a greater reach than some celebrities. This is also shown by the recently released Panini Petfluencer scrapbook: Instead of football professionals, there are now stickers from 200 animal web stars in the small paper packages.
The top tier in the industry with millions of followers can earn enormous fees per post. The American dwarf spitz Jiffpom (10.3 million followers on Instagram), for example, earns up to 135,000 euros per post, according to estimates. According to Karkalis, the hype continues: "Last year, a software provider analyzed the accounts of influencers and petfluencers from all over the world. The result: There are significantly more influencers on topics such as fashion, beauty or sports than there are petfluencers. Compare But if you have influencers and petfluencers with similar follower numbers, the result was consistently identical in all size categories: The fur noses always get more likes and comments than their human counterparts. " This commitment is the real hard currency on Insta & Co.
Dogs as an amplifier for the celebrity factor
The stars have now also understood that animals can get you a lot of clicks on social media. Instead of red carpets, VIPs like Reese Witherspoon or Demi Moore are increasingly showing themselves to be natural, private - and with their four-legged friends. After all, that certainly brings some sympathy points for the otherwise stylish celebrity with a glamorous life.
"As long as we use smartphones and thus also social media, strong content will always be important. With animals, there is also the fact that their effect unfolds unconsciously on the viewer. With influencers, but also stars, one usually thinks of the completely perfect world, with petfluencers it's much more real, "says the expert.
Animal as an economic factor
According to the WKO, the Fressnapf chain, as the market leader in pet food and supplies, recorded the largest increase in sales in its history in 2020. Across Europe, revenues rose by 15.2 percent to 2.6 billion euros. In Austria alone, sales rose by 18.2 percent to 215 million euros - almost 70 percent of which is accounted for by feed. Overall, the domestic pet supplies market is 650 to 700 million.
When it comes to their four-legged friends, most of them don't look at the money, they choose exquisite treats, classy accessories or even one or the other gadget from luxury labels such as Louis Vuitton or Versace. Because the big designer brands have also discovered the huge and, above all, rapidly growing market for themselves. The animals simply don't care, but style-conscious masters are happy to treat themselves to a status symbol for their furry noses. A Prada leash can cost almost 500 euros or a winter down jacket from Moncler can cost 350 euros - a fashion highlight for quarantine strolls, so to speak!
But what if a lot of people have to go back to the office from home? It is to be hoped that the pet owners will continue to show themselves responsible. This in turn opens up a new market: dog sitters and childcare offers will be very popular. Just like services for four-legged friends. In contrast, the Fressnapf Reisen platform, which was jointly launched by Fressnapf and Rewe Touristik Austria a few weeks ago, wants to score with special offers for dog-friendly hotels and destinations.
Animals remain animals
With all the cordiality, however, crazy productions or social media challenges on TikTok or Instagram should also be viewed critically. Species-appropriate keeping, a lot of love and attention are what the animals need - regardless of whether it is an Insta celebrity or not. "Nothing speaks against a funny collar or a short posing for a photo - but when animals become too humanized, we see it critically", say the agency professionals at TONY. If it happens without compulsion, the animals also enjoy posing for a picture; after all, their owner deals with them, rewards and praises them. And that's what Bello & Co. really makes you happy.