Heads Up For Tails: bringing joy to India’s pets and their families, one home at a time
Published August 12, 2021
India’s digital revolution has brought millions of people online and transformed the shopping experience of the typical Indian home. This new class of consumer is keen to discover, splurge and experiment more. One big beneficiary: the country’s furkids.
India is home to over 11 million domestic pets, and the amount Indian consumers spend on their cats and dogs is about to hit a major inflection point. Global studies show that spending on pets tends to rise sharply when GDP per capita hits around $4,000 to $5,000. India, which is now at about $2,000, is forecast to hit this number over the next five to six years.
India’s pet care market, which was worth $600 million in 2020, is growing at 20% annually and is likely to reach $4 billion by 2030 as pet ownership and per-pet spend continues to rise, unlocking the supply of quality food and accessories. There is plenty of room for growth before this market hits the size of markets like the US, which is worth about $75 billion, or China, which touched $30 billion in 2020.
The rise in pet ownership in India mirrors the changes in lifestyle and attitudes among the country’s consumers. While the older generation of pet owners seek companionship from their pets, millennials see themselves as ‘pet parents’ to ‘furkids’ who are an integral part of their family. They’re willing to spend more on high quality pet food, pet products, medicines, vets and groomers on the back of improving purchasing power and awareness about their pet’s needs.
Globally, the category also has high online penetration; in the US, in fact, pet care has the highest penetration amongst all consumer categories. Just like with beauty products, this category has thrived using the vertical commerce playbook given discovery, consultative selling, and services are a big part of the consumer journey. Pet parents seek advice in choosing products that are right for the age, season and breed of their pets – hence making a dedicated pet care platform with commerce, curation, content and consultation a great shopping destination.
We’ve been watching this emerging category closely over the last few years. In 2019, we cold called Heads Up For Tails founder Rashi Sanon, and decided to visit her at HUFT’s cosy office in Delhi. Members of our own team who have pets were big fans of the brand and their customer orientation.
Rashi is an ardent animal lover and pet parent who believes that pets are family and family deserves the best. She has two dogs of her own, who serve as CTOs (Chief Testing Officers) and every product launched is first tested at home. India’s pet supplies market is highly fragmented, and there is no single destination to shop for high quality products and services; what’s more, there’s a lack of awareness on what’s best in health, hygiene and nutrition. When we met the HUFT team, they had a small network of retail stores in four cities. We were extremely impressed by Rashi’s authenticity and passion to make the lives of pets healthier, happier and more comfortable. We decided to stay in touch and track the progress in business over the next few quarters. It was finally in January of 2021 that Sequoia India decided to become partners to build India’s leading pet care destination platform.
Like many other start up stories, HUFT wasn’t an overnight success. What started as a small pet foods and accessories business in 2008 now operates both online and offline, with 41 stores across eight cities in India. HUFT not only serves as a destination for all things pet care but also marries content and community with commerce. Rashi has turned her passion for pets into an exciting omnichannel business that’s complemented by a strong content strategy, a live chat support and an active online community. Customers value HUFT’s deep focus on quality, wide assortment of products and unparalleled understanding of their needs.
As a passionate pet lover herself, Rashi is best positioned to capture the shift from pet ownership to pet parentship. Her aim is for every home to experience the joy of raising pets as family, with HUFT playing an active role as a pet parenting partner. Apart from a strong founding team, we believe that some of their key differentiators are a unique omni-channel model, full stack platform offering a wide portfolio of products, value added services and deep customer love.
The team at HUFT believe that when people share their lives with animals, they become better versions of themselves. We at Sequoia India are excited to join Heads Up For Tails on their mission to create and curate innovative products and services that bring joy to pets and their families, one home at a time.