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Southeast Asians spend more on pets during lockdown

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In 2021, many from Southeast Asia searched online for pets, pet food and pet essentials while varying degrees of pandemic lockdowns gripped the region. 

Google searches up in 2021 compared to previous year

Compared to 2020, 2021’s number of Google searches made on the subject significantly jumped by 88%, as reported by iPrice Group, a Southeast Asian e-commerce aggregator that looked into the region’s demand for pets and pet products in 2021. 

Google searches also revealed that Southeast Asians were five times more interested in dogs than cats, iPrice said. In the Philippines, the recorded Google queries for dogs for sale or for adoption were 460% more than searches made for cats. 

During the first three quarters of 2021, almost 7 million Google searches on pets came from the Philippines, which translated to 53% of the total Google queries on pets from the region. It was four times more than Vietnam, which logged the second-highest number of online searches for pets (34%) while under COVID-19 lockdown.

iPrice believes the severity of Southeast Asian governments’ restrictions to fight COVID-19 directly determined how much different nationalities would seek out pets as companions. When major parts of the Philippines were under stricter lockdowns last year, many searched online for pets and pet-related products 118 times more than they did in 2020. But in Singapore, where government stay-at-home orders eased up early in 2021 as they attempted to live with the virus, demand for pets went down by 7% compared to a year ago under strict circuit breaker measures.

Google impressions on pet foods and pet supplies also increased well beyond iPrice’s expectations during the last two years of the pandemic. Comparing data from the first 10 months of 2020 and 2021, iPrice said Google impressions for pet supplies rose 158% across all the six Southeast Asian countries they monitor.

In the Philippines, impressions for pet foods and supplies have more than doubled from over 400,000 in 2020 to over a million a year later, iPrice said. But it was Thailand that recorded the highest increase (4.5 times more than the previous year) of impressions for pet essentials followed by Malaysia (3.5 times more) in the last 12 months. In Vietnam, impressions on pet necessities increased by 220% — was three times more than their 2020 numbers. Indonesia, the country with the biggest Muslim population in the world where dogs are generally regarded as unclean, registered the lowest increase (89%) in search frequency for pet subjects during its pandemic quarantine periods. 

Online shopping for pet supplies to continue

Meanwhile, Amazon Singapore and YouGov, a global public opinion and data company, are saying Singaporeans are likely to continue buying pet supplies online even when the COVID-19 health crisis is over. 

A recent survey of 1,207 Singaporeans revealed that 85% of them only started buying pet supplies online when the pandemic limited their public movements. This new shopping habit is unlikely to change post-pandemic as respondents said they would continue buying pet supplies online moving forward. Forty one percent of shoppers polled said lower prices compared to physical stores are a key motivator for online shopping.

Alma Buelva is a journalist from the Philippines. When she’s not writing about business and technology, she devotes her time to taking care of animals and writing about them, too.

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