A New Era Brings an Omnimarket


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The pet industry is now in an omnimarket. But where does that leave your veterinary practice customers?

The traditional boundaries are eroding, said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts. Healthcare vs. non-healthcare products, product vs. service suppliers – market forces are blurring the lines like never before.

Indeed, pet industry players aren’t simply competing across brick-and-mortar channels and the Internet. The market has broadened to include pet healthcare competition across product categories old and new (pet anxiety/calming products are a good example), and also pet product retailers branching out into veterinary and non-medical pet care services – in part to respond to internet competition.

Welcome to what Sprinkle calls the “omnimarket.”

Multiple-front competition

Omnimarket describes a new era of multiple-front competition that simultaneously crosses former business operations borders between medical vs. non-medical, products vs. services, food vs. non-food products, and pet owner demographics. This notably includes veterinary expansion into retail stores.

This new era of multiple-front competition has been fueled by booming e-commerce in pet products but, as importantly, is being shaped by the competitive reactions of traditional pet product manufacturers and retailers. Pet superstores are responding to – and mass-market big boxes are exploiting – the internet’s erosion of the brick-and-mortar distinction between pet specialty and mass-market by in turn collapsing the distinction between retail store and vet clinic/pet care salon, specifically because hands-on pet care is the Achilles’ heel of the Internet as a pet care provider and pet industry competitor.

Packaged Facts explores this in-depth in its recently released report Veterinary Services in the U.S.: Competing for the Pet Care Customer, 2nd Edition. Among the findings:

Among dog and cat owners, somewhat over half (55%) have gone to a local, independent vet in the last 12 months. At a distance, but now claiming double-digit shares, are several competing formats.

Across household income brackets, millennial pet owners are less likely to use veterinary services.

Vet visitation rates are known to be lower among cat owners than dog owners – but recent booklet (rather than online) data suggests that cat owner rates for using vets may be even lower than believed.

Addressing the main pet healthcare questions

So, how do your veterinary practice customers fit into the omnimarket? How can they succeed?

“One answer is to be actively customer-centric, as the most progressive and successful veterinary practices and animal hospitals are,” said Sprinkle. “And the customer is the one with the credit card, not the furry client.”

As Packaged Facts’ recent Vet Services report argues, one of the main challenges for the veterinary sector is a growing misalignment between what vets and pet owners view as pet care, Sprinkle said. One crucial issue is the relatively arm’s-length relationship many vets have to pet food and nutrition, even though their customers’ main pet care question revolves around what to feed their pets.

“It’s hard to hold a place as the central resource for pet healthcare if you don’t regularly and proactively address your customer’s main pet healthcare questions,” he said. “And in the age of e-commerce and online pet pharmacies, it will be hard to hang on to pet medication sales and profits if you lose traction with customers as their central pet care resource.”