May 30, 2023
The population of pet owners in the U.S. is younger and more connected than ever. This shift is changing the way veterinary care is managed.
According to a generational study by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), Millennials are the largest pet-owning segment in the U.S., representing 32% of all pet-owning households. This audience is considered digitally native and is more likely to view their pets as ‘part of the family’ than older generations.
Because they are digital natives, Millennials are more comfortable going online to learn about pet products than previous generations. The same APPA study revealed that 62% of Millennial pet owners increased the number of online pet product purchases they made over the last year, with over half of those respondents stating that they plan to increase online purchases with home delivery over the next year. This shift indicates that these habits are here to stay.
Before the pandemic sent most audiences online for their shopping, there were signs indicating that increased digital spending by pet owners was already underway. Millennials especially love having pet products shipped directly to their homes– they (and even older Gen Z pet owners) have embraced auto-ship and subscription models for pet products.
E-commerce and Pet Medications
This preference for online shopping is also impacting the market for pet medications, especially for medications that comprise the majority of prescription spending, like preventatives, parasiticides, and medications for chronic disease management. Many Millennial pet owners are buying medications from their veterinarians’ websites rather than in person from their practices. Others are turning to third-party online retailers.
While this change in behavior was challenging for veterinarian practices that had to adapt during the pandemic, the shift to online medication purchasing was offset by the increase in demand for pet medications. It is predicted that this trend will continue, with analysts estimating that the share of pet products purchased online will grow, reaching 30% of the overall pet medication market by 2025.
A large percentage of medications, especially preventatives and those that are used to treat chronic conditions will require refills. This means that consumers will continue to embrace the ease of home delivery as well as shop around for the best price, which is easier to do from the comfort of home. This follows the larger transformation in e-commerce that has occurred in other categories, like groceries and apparel.
How E-Commerce Has Impacted Veterinary Practices?
The migration toward online shopping for pet products has transformed how some veterinary practices are managed, including how inventory is managed and even the mix of products and services that they offer. Some veterinarian clinics are carrying a more tightly edited inventory, only stocking products and medications that are needed for acute treatment situations.
Pet Owners Still Need Veterinarians
Regardless of how pet owners shop for and receive the products that they buy for their furry friends, veterinarians will still be at the center of the relationship between them and their pets. The APPA study reveals that almost 60% of pet owners reported relying on their veterinarians for pet health information and guidance.
To keep pace with the changing needs of their customers, veterinarians will need to adapt to an environment that is more digital, while also staying focused on pet health and wellness. More pet owners are now attending to the overall wellness of their pets and still turn to their veterinarians for advice. A study by Eyes4Research revealed that 61% of pet owners consider their veterinarian a key source of information on holistic pet care.
Veterinarians have the challenge of embracing new technologies in order to meet their customers where they’re at. But they also have the unique opportunity to elevate the quality of information they offer to them at the same time.
Eyes4Research has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from pet owners and veterinarians. Our panels are made up of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our specialty panels here.