Remember the sock puppet that was the advertising mascot of Pets.com, an early online pet products store? The sock puppet and Pets.com met an early demise, but perhaps it was just ahead of its time. According to a new study, 31% of pet owners are sourcing at least some of their pet products online.
“Pet Health Products: Changing Channels” is a new study just released by Brakke Consulting. Based on two national surveys, one of pet owners, the other of veterinarians, the study not only documents the rapid migration of pet product sales to online sources, it also shows that veterinarians are missing out on a significant piece of the market that is readily available to them.
“According to our veterinarian survey, nearly two thirds of veterinary practices offer online purchasing and home delivery,” according to Robert Jones, PhD, president of Brakke Consulting. “But only one-third of clients are aware of the service. While about one in five pet owners are purchasing pet health products online from their veterinarian, an additional 25% would readily do so if their veterinarian offered online shopping and they were aware of the service.”
Leading online retailers are making a big play for veterinarians’ pet product sales, according to the study. They include Chewy.com, Amazon.com and 1800PetMeds. Several other companies compete for the market as well but the quick rise of Chewy to lead these online retailers is striking.
“Pet Health Products: Changing Channels” explores purchasing patterns for several types of products traditionally sourced at the veterinary clinic: flea and tick control, heartworm preventives, dental chews, pain management medications, joint supplements, pilling treats and therapeutic pet foods. Online retailers are making their greatest inroads into flea-tick products, heartworm preventives and therapeutic diets, according to the study.
One weakness for veterinarians may be their service providers. Online sales and home delivery for veterinary clinics are primarily handled by three companies: Covetrus, a public company, VetSource, a private firm, and MyVetStore, a service of Midwest Veterinary Supply. Only one earned a positive “Net Promoter Score” from veterinarian clients. Conversely, Chewy.com and Amazon.com both have high NPS scores from their customers.
Another factor at play in channel use is demographics. Of pet owners 55 years old or more, 89% consider the veterinarian the most trusted source of information about pets, whereas only 5% say the same about online sources. But for pet owners 18-34 years of age, only about half consider the veterinarian the most trusted source of information.Twenty nine percent put more trust in online sources. Younger consumers are also the most oriented to online purchasing.
The complete 263-page “Pet Health Products: Changing Channels” is available for $10,000 by contacting John Volk at Brakke Consulting at [email protected] or at 773-327-4941.
About Brakke Consulting
Brakke Consulting is a leading management consulting firm serving the global animal health, animal nutrition and veterinary industries. Headquartered in Greensboro, NC, the firm also has offices in Chicago, Dallas, Fort Collins, CO, Kansas City, Omaha and Tokyo, Japan.