Are Pets Considered as Status Symbols?

300 years ago, pets are usually considered as aid companions or workers for livelihood and agricultural purposes. Dogs are kept to tend to sheep while other breed varieties are raised to remove vermin and to secure land properties.

But over time, as the wealth of nations have increased pets have come to mean something else especially for the elite or the wealthy. In many Arab countries and Asian countries like Korea and the Philippines, there is a growing trend of owning pets not for utilitarian purposes- these pets no longer work for food or for humans, they are instead kept like children and more often than not as status symbols. Owning pets in countries like Korea, China, and the Philippines is seen as a status symbol or luxury due to the cost of keeping them. Society became highly industrialized and well informed, and because of this there is a growing number of humans that already see pets as part of their daily existence and because of this, the pet industry has entered a boom period.

In history, only the elite, as well as Monarchs and members of the Royal families, had access to certain breeds of pets like Corgis. Queen Elizabeth II is known for having rare breeds of Corgis specifically the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother are also fond of corgis when they were little, and the Queen herself has owned more than 30 corgis since she became Queen in 1952.

In 2017, Elizabeth II had five corgis named Linnet, Willow, Monty and Holly along with fiver cocker spaniels named Flash, Bisto, Oxo, Spick, and Span as well as four dachshund-corgi crossbreeds: Cider, Vulcan and Candy. These Royal dogs appeared in important events like the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony during a sketch with the character James Bond with Daniel Craig. These corgis held a special place in the Royal Palace, but what was once only a privilege to the elite is now something that has also been adopted even by the middle class.

In the ’90s, it became common to see women carrying small dogs like jewelry, small breed of dogs were often seen accompanying Hollywood personalities like Paris Hilton and they wore faux gem collars, top know and were even at times dyed and clothed according to fashion and worn like a purse in their arms. This era was crucial to establishing and cementing the idea that pets are status symbols. A lot of wealthy and elite people welcomed pets in their lives and this led to the creation of restaurants and hotels as well as supermarkets that cater to the needs of owners with pets.

Pets are of course without a doubt a source of comfort and companionship and seen as a way to decrease loneliness. Cats and dogs, as well as other varieties of pets, are seen as great stress relievers- and many see the numerous benefits of having pets in their life.

With this change of perspective, the Luxury industry for Pets was established. It led to the creation of proper veterinary care and clinics that cater to both large and small dogs, as well as boarding kennels that specialize in housing larger breeds as well as every kind of accommodation for pets including dog walkers and trainers. As wealth steadily increased in Asia, it is now becoming a common thing for Asians to consider pets as part of their extended family- this has even led to the creation of other pet services like pet grooming and eventually the introduction of Pet Insurance.

In Korea a growing number of people are starting to keep dogs and cats, top influencers like K-pop icons and Korean celebrities are known for featuring their pets every chance they get, and each of these pets even manage to achieve celebrity status. One of the most high profile pets in the world is the cat of Karl Lagerfeld.

Karl Lagerfeld, a prolific and well known creative director for Chanel owned a cat named Choupette. After he died at the age of 85, his cat Choupette was turned into an heiress and is now worth $195 million to $300 million dollars. Karl Lagerfeld’s cat Choupette is one of the best examples of luxury pets who led a pampered life. Choupette has two personal maids, and ate dinners of caviar and chicken pate, and also used table off designer dishes, and travels using private jets. His cat, of course, is said to have earned its keep because the cat was able to get two modeling gigs that earned Lagerfeld 3 million dollars, plus a series of other endorsements from Japanese beauty products.

The attitude towards pets has changed considerably over the years. Pets are no longer just vermin killers or food. A growing number of Asians are now seeing pets as part of the family and treasured friends and companions especially with urban Asians- who have become pet lovers. Today it is no longer uncommon to have many pet services inside luxurious and stylish shopping malls and every aisle in grocery stores is most likely going to have a section for pet cats and pet dogs.

Pet Funerals

Even Pet funerals have become a thing, in Korea, they are now given a license to perform pet funerals and are given the option of cremation or melting of the bones into a solid mass similar to that of a monument and this process begins at 15,000 won or more depending on the size of their pet.

The rise of the middle class and high income earning families in the Philippines has also led to the opening of may pet food and pet grooming services that offer deliveries. Shopping malls all over the country are already selling cat food and dog foods, including premium products as well as dog shampoos and a variety of pet toys.

Luxury Services for Pets

Because it is not yet as mainstream as humans want it to be, a lot of these pet services including pet food and pet grooming services as well as pet hospitalization remain as part of luxury services and products. People who can afford pets especially different breeds are tagged as wealthy people and most of the pet products are priced exorbitantly. The same thing for pet toys, pet beds, and cushions as well as other pet accessories especially in countries like the Philippines, Korea, and Japan.

In Thailand, the rise of Pet restaurants is also at an all-time high. There are a lot of coffee shops that incorporate the presence of cats, dogs, pet rabbits, even pet reptiles and snakes. Animal cafes and pet restaurants are considered a huge market, and a lot of tourists, as well as locals, love to bring their pets over.

In the United States, pets are usually seen as status symbols. The more expensive the pets are the more forbidden, and dangerous the better. It all depends on how rich a person is. Pet tigers, as well as a certain rare breed of dogs and cats, are seen as a way to increase the owner’s machismo and class. It is normal to find tough looking guys owning a Pitbull, Rotweiller and many others and they are considered as status symbol dogs. This is because anything that is expensive, will be deemed as a status symbol. There are some pet breeds that are so expensive not everyone can have them.

Luxury Pets

Socialite Paris Hilton was reported to have shelled out $25,000 for a pair of teacup Pomeranian puppies and these dogs were delivered to her Los Angeles home, by a breeder coming from Calgary. There are some breeders that cater only to the enormously wealthy, exclusive and elite clientele. There are some super rare breeds that go way back like the Tibetan Mastiff Puppies. These puppies are usually 200 pounds and said to have come from Central Asia and Tibet, and said to contain lion’s blood. Just one puppy can fetch the amount of 2million dollars.

In China, a famous Chinese businessman purchased a Tibetan mastiff puppy for 1.9 million dollars and this is currently one of the most expensive dogs ever purchased. China is a booming economy, it will come as no wonder that a lot of Chinese new rich are able to pay for these golden haired dogs. Owning luxury pets in China has become a huge thing. Another rare breed of dogs can reach as high as 6 million yuan or $900,000. These pets are considered as a prized status symbol among China’s newly rich, and the prices are expected to increase over the years.

Some pets like the Tibetan mastiffs are so rare, they are considered as natural treasures, this is the reason why their prices are so high. Of course, despite being tagged as luxury pets, this does not take away the fact that animals are to be treasured. Pets help humans become more compassionated and empathetic toward other living creatures. For one, it was commanded by God. In Genesis 1:26 it was commanded by the Lord

” “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

James 3:7 ” For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind.

The relationship between man and pets has existed for thousands of years now and there had been many may it be royalty or not who were able to maintain a strong bond with their pets. Status symbol, well-off or not.

Some animals like horses have been bred for the longest time, fierce kings, and warriors have kept grand horses and developed an array of strategies and methods to keep horses strong and have a luxurious tinge of the coat. In the past, horses were kept for a number of purposes, horses accompany warriors and kings during times of battles, today many of these horses are kept for luxury and companionship purposes in wide and rich farm estates

In Arab nations and oil-rich countries, it is normal to find neighborhoods that maintain pure breed dogs like new SUV’s, as the ability of society improves the number of luxury pets continues to increase. The rise of the newly rich has had a great impact on the Luxury Pet Industry in the Philippines.

Even Filipino Billionaire John Gokongwei’s has announced the move of Robinson’s Retail Holdings Inc. to Pet Luxury Products and Services. The fashion business is struggling due to cheaper and faster chains like Uniqlo, this is why a lot of big companies in the Philippines will start focusing more on luxury pet services. Robinson’s Retail Holdings Inc. is setting its eye on expanding franchises in beauty products and pet care and is expecting a 15% growth annually in the next five years according to an article released by Bloomberg.

This is simply because pets have become very big, and became essential. A lot of dogs in Asia are now becoming very spoiled, it is very apparent in social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Instead of solely focusing on food and drugstores. The billionaire visionary Gokongwei-Pe is going to focus on pets and their luxury needs and services.

In a recent move, the brand has procured the license of Singapore’s Pet Lovers Centre last October and plans to open a second outlet in 2020 to cater to the growing elite in the Philippines. The goal is to focus on affluent Asian shoppers- Robinson’s retail is projecting three billion pesos to five billion pesos in their 100 to 150 stores. Robinson’s is known for catering to super-affluent shoppers in the Philippines or high net worth individuals.

Asia’s Ultra Luxury Forum: Manila

Asia’s Local Luxury Meetup is a local 4-hour meetup organized twice a month for a specific group of audience and thrice a year (Q1, Q2, and Q3) for multiple groups of audience.

Moola Forum: Asia’s Premier Luxury Marketing Forum

Moola Forum is attended by Asia’s high-net-worth individuals and ultra-high-net-worth individuals, their luxury lifestyle consultants and private wealth advisersheirs & heiressesluxury affiliate marketersc-level executivesserial entrepreneursangel investorsventure capitalistsprivate equity investorsinvestment bankers as well as owners of luxury fashionluxury jewelryluxury beautyluxury carsluxury hospitalityfine wines & spiritsgourmet food & fine diningfine artluxury homewareprivate jets & yachtsexecutive protection, and security technology.

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Date & Venue

Meetup: Philippine Luxury Meetup – 2019
Venue: Metro Manila, Philippines