4 changes to prepare for pest control’s future


October 4, 2023

Dr. Jim Fredericks

Dr. Jim Fredericks

While it may seem daunting to examine what the industry will look by 2033 — the year the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and Pest Management Professional (PMP) celebrate their 100th anniversaries — reflecting on the past decade it is comforting to know a number of things remain the same amidst such progress.

The pest control industry has been professionally protecting public health, food and property, and educating consumers about the threats of pests, for more than a century. These core practices will not change. However, the strategies and tools employed to achieve these goals may receive an upgrade in the coming years. Here are a few key areas of change we can anticipate in the not-so-distant future:

1. A new generation of pest control buyers will take over. There are some new kids on the block, and they may look and behave a bit differently than their predecessors. Generation Z (born 1997-2012) and Generation Alpha (born 2011-2025) will be a significant percentage of the U.S. population in 2033. These consumers comprise the next customer base of home and business owners using pest control services — and are set to be the most racially and ethnically diverse of all generation groups.

While these generations hardly will have known a time before technology took dominance, studies show that personal recommendations from friends and family, alongside online review sites and internet searches, are some of the most influential sources when selecting professional services (1). Understanding your customer base and what they value will be of increased importance when marketing to consumers.

2. Mild winters and heavy rainfall will increase pest pressure. According to a study published in February, the impact of tropical storms that cause severe flooding will only become worse in the coming years (2). Pests that need warm and wet conditions to thrive, like ticks and mosquitoes, will continue to do so. Harsh winters that typically reduce these pests in northern parts of the U.S. are becoming milder, allowing pest populations to survive longer and flourish during peak season. Invasive species also will expand their territories.

3. Pest-borne disease will be top of mind for consumers. According to a new report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cases of alpha-gal syndrome have substantially increased since 2010. The organization has identified 100,000 new cases from 2011-2022 (3). As more people are diagnosed, consumers will become keenly aware of the additional threats posed by ticks and vector pests. They also may show increased interest in pest control treatments to protect their families.

4. Technology will have an even greater influence. This year alone, social media and artificial intelligence (AI) have reached incredible heights that not many could have imagined a few years ago. These tools will continue to transform how we relate to consumers and will influence marketing and communication programs. Who knows what the next hot new social platform will be, but we can certainly anticipate an evolution in the way users will share information.

There is so much on the horizon for our industry, and I am excited to watch the transformation happen over the next few years. While change is inevitable, we mustn’t forget that progress is achievable. Let’s remain open and adaptable to the ongoing landscape shifts in the industry and embrace a brighter future for all.

1. PPMA Pest Control Attitudes & Usage Survey, 2021
2. Nature.com/articles/s41558-023-01595-7, accessed August 2023
3. CDC.gov/media/releases/2023/p0727-emerging-tick-bites.html, accessed August 2023

About the Author

Dr. Jim Fredericks, PHOTO: National Pest Management Association

You can reach Dr. Fredericks, BCE, executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA), at jfredericks@pestworld.org

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