The veterinary market has a direct impact on the $9.8 billion U.S. pet medications industry, through both the dispersal of prescription and occasionally non-prescription products and the recommendations veterinarians make to pet owners for products purchased outside their practice, reveals Packaged Facts in the market research study Pet Medications in the U.S., 6th Edition.
Some pet medications, such as vaccines and cancer drugs, are administered almost exclusively by veterinarians in a clinic setting, while others, such as prescription parasiticides, are purchased directly from veterinarians during a visit and administered at home. Although consumers are able to have prescriptions filled elsewhere, a large portion of prescription products are still dispensed by the veterinarians. Indeed, despite the growing product cross-over from veterinary-only to other retail channels, some marketers prefer to maintain more control over how their products are dispensed and have continued to cultivate “vet-only” product lines.
One of the trends impacting the veterinary services industry that is having a tremendous effect on the pet medications market is the expansion of vet services by major retailers, as with Petco’s addition of Thrive full-service animal hospitals in Petco stores and launch of PetCoach clinics, and with Pet IQ’s expansion inside Walmart stores. Vet services are expanding online, with app- and cloud-based technologies increasingly connecting pet owners with veterinarians online and in person, affording easier management and sharing of pet health information, and offering substantial Internet-based opportunities to even the smallest veterinary operator. Petco’s PetCoach online veterinary consultation platform has gotten notable media attention, but a number of other companies are also making inroads, such as Vet24sevenand Vetted, the latter of which connects pet owners with mobile veterinarians. Capabilities and levels of sophistication vary, but all of the recent platforms have in common free smartphone apps designed to involve pet owners more deeply than ever in the healthcare of their pets, and all represent new opportunities for marketers of pet medications to partner with vet service providers and connect with prospective customers.
“The increased exposure to veterinary clinics and online services serves as a reminder to pet owners that their pets’ medical care, even routine care, is not to be ignored,” says David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts. “The growing number of veterinary clinics also means increased access to both medical care and medications.”
Packaged Facts’ Survey of Pet Owners featured in Pet Medications in the U.S., 6th Edition highlights the important role pet medications play in the operations of veterinary clinics:
- In the survey, 78% of dog owners and 62% of cat owners purchased pet medications in veterinary clinics during the past 12 months, with spending concentrated at the under-$200 level (more than half of dog owners and cat owners).
- Average spending on pet food/treats and other pet supplies is much lower, with the highest percentage of pet owners at under $50 and with the majority of pet owners not buying these products from veterinarians at all.
- Spending on veterinary medical services is also concentrated at the under-$200 level, which accounts for slightly more than half of dog owners and cat owners, with other types of services—grooming, dental, boarding, and day care—garnering lower levels of spending.
As a result of veterinarians’ long-term focus on pet medications, these products form a core component of vet clinic sales, which are currently being threatened by the movement of pet medication sales to other channels such as online.