What Are They Thinking? Responding to Modern and Future Pet Owners
World Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress Proceedings, 2018
S. Samuels
Portsmouth, UK

Based on just-released research by VetHelpDirect and Merck Animal Health, this talk is a comprehensive overview of the differences in pet owner desires (broken up by dog and cat owners) among pet owners born before and after 1980. The talk contains action steps veterinarians should be considering if they want to fully address the changing demand of today’s pet owners.

Pet owners’ expectations of the vet’s online provision have changed drastically in the space of two years, recent research from VetHelpDirect shows that clients want to be able to communicate with the vet via social media, email, and even virtual chat. They expect a high level of responsiveness from their vet with results from our latest studies showing that over 35% of pet owners in the UK expecting a response to questions asked via social media within one hour, this contrasts with 15% when the same survey was run 2 years ago. It presents a huge challenge to the veterinary practice and strategies are required to deal with this issue.

The age of the pet owner has a profound effect on their approach to pet care. Recent research shows that these owners are more influenced by online reviews than their friend’s opinions when it comes to choosing a vet.

The Merck Pet Owner Pathways Research told us that Millennials are prepared to spend on their pet and they are more likely to include their veterinarian in their pet owning journey than older demographics. We know that all age groups will pay more for a brand known for its social value but this effect is particularly marked in the millennial demographic. Nielson tells us that 49% of people are prepared to pay more for a brand known for its social value, this rises to 60% for 18–24-year-olds.

Online millennial pet owner behaviour is different too, Instagram use is more widespread; however, rates of using Facebook still exceed this threefold and are close to the average rates for all ages. The much hyped SnapChat actually shows very low levels of use even amongst the millennial demographic. This new demographic represents an opportunity for veterinary practices, in order to reach Millennials, consider Instagram but don’t forget Facebook which is likely to be much more important, even for this demographic.

Most vets would accept that their clients and potential new clients go online for information when they are making decisions about their pet, including which vet to choose. In 2010 Google coined the term ‘Zero Moment of Truth’ to define this stage of the purchasing journey when people are choosing a service or product; this includes reading online reviews, watching videos, and reading content. There is strong evidence that this phenomenon exists amongst pet owners looking for a vet and implies that vets must consider their digital marketing across several platforms. ‘Micro-moments’ are Google’s latest iteration of this concept and take into account the fact that people are now using the mobile internet far more widely and that internet research is now happening in tiny spaces of time or ‘micro-moments.’ Vet practices need to consider that anything published is more likely to be accessed in short snatches of time, more likely by mobile and create copy and images accordingly.


Speaker Information
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S. Samuels
Portsmouth, UK

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