Derek Jones is vice president of enterprise strategy, Americas, at Deputy, a global workforce management platform designed for employee scheduling, timesheets and communication. With a focus on health care, Jones has over 16 years’ experience in delivering data-driven sales and marketing strategies to SaaS companies like MarketSource and Griswold Home Care. Learn more at Deputy.com.Read Articles Written by Derek Jones
Millennials today are 25 to 40 years old, an age range that signifies entry into prime earning years. The majority of millennials — also known as Generation Y — are devoted pet owners who consider their pets’ health to be as important as their own. Millennials have surpassed baby boomers to become the largest generation of pet owners in the United States. Understanding how millennials view pets and what they look for when seeking veterinary care will help you make your practice more attractive to this undeniably important market segment.
How Millennials Value Pets
Delaying milestones like getting marriage, owning a home and having children, millennials spend more time, money and attention on their animals. Here’s how the age group is changing the pet care industry:
- Millennials treat their pets like family members, feeding them higher quality, sustainably sourced foods.
- A survey by the communication software company Weave Inc. found that 86% of millennials would risk their lives to save their pet.
- Studies show that 51% of millennials invest in technical devices that help keep their pets safe and happy, such as location trackers, treat dispensers, activity tracking collars and home-monitoring systems.
Understand Client Demographics
While millennials have been accused of taking down traditional industries through their consumer preferences, a closer look indicates the real problem is the failure of some brands to adapt to a shifting market. It’s easy to see why a demographic numbering over 70 million in the United States could be vital to your veterinary practice.
By closely analyzing client demographics, you can determine whether millennials form a large part of your pet owner base. Why is this important? Because a thorough understanding of your clientele, their preferences and their values can guide key business operations, including:
- Advertising and marketing strategies.
- Customer service skills.
- Telehealth and technology options.
- Retail offerings, such as pet food.
Make Your Practice Attractive to Millennials
Millennials came into their own with the advent of social media platforms, mobile app technology and the age of Google. The tech-savvy demographic is quick to research and scour reviews to find the best products and services for themselves and their pets. Consider elevating your veterinary practice to cater to the needs and preferences of the modern pet owner in the following ways:
1. Social media: Connect with millennials by using platforms like Instagram and YouTube for advertising, reminders and pet health tips. Maintaining an active social media presence can help position your practice as a trusted, value-based resource. Behind-the-scenes footage and images of animals in your care can help millennial pet owners feel confident that their four-legged family members are in good hands. Social media platforms provide plenty of ways to share user-generated content and testimonials that encourage client loyalty and cultivate a sense of community around your practice.
2. Veterinary apps: Mobile apps put information at your fingertips. Veterinary apps can provide quick access to vital information about pet allergies, medications and laboratory results. Implementing mobile app technology at your practice can aid in client and patient documentation, help streamline communication and encourage ongoing engagement with pet owners on the go.
3. Telehealth: Busy millennials don’t always want to take their pets to the veterinarian for a check-up or to purchase flea and tick medication. Telehealth technology can help streamline everyday operations, free up staff members and foster clear, timely communication with pet owners.
Telehealth technology can be implemented in the following ways:
- Contract with a telehealth vendor that employs veterinary professionals to answer pet owner questions 24/7 by phone, text or online chat. This option can expand your clinic’s capacity and afford staff members more time for those all-important face-to-face conversations.
- Telehealth solutions can be used to schedule appointments and screen clients for information before the exam.
- Automated reminders, loyalty programs and pet portals can improve communication, compliance and customer retention.
Visit bit.ly/TVB-VirtualCare for details about companies competing in the veterinary telemedicine, teleadvice and teleconsult space.
4. Email and text messages: Although millennials are fine with talking on the phone or in person, many prefer email and text messaging. Physicians’ offices offer automated appointment reminders and digital confirmations. Veterinarians can do it, too. Automated systems free up team members to assist more patients and avoid scheduling conflicts and errors.
Daily operations within a veterinary practice can be streamlined using health care scheduling software. The software makes it easy to schedule team members in line with client demand, prepare an accurate payroll and communicate clearly with your staff. By streamlining employee administration, you can focus on helping animals and provide their owners with the care and attention they deserve.
The Importance of Soft Skills
Soft skills have always played a major role in pet care, but their importance in today’s market cannot be overstated. Millennials value empathy and kindness. Here are ways that veterinarians can show it:
- Be collaborative: Approach pet owners as if you are all partners in care.
- Preventive care: Advice about disease prevention and nutrition are highly welcomed.
- Commitment: Millennials want veterinarians to see them and their pets as worthy of a lifetime commitment.
- Employee treatment: Millennials value private life over work and like knowing that others treat employees in the same mindset.
- Giving back: Millennials are all about kindness and compassion, and they want to know that their veterinarians care about animal shelters, stray pets and clients in need. According to CB Insights, 73% of millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable products or services that positively impact the world.
As pet ownership among millennials continues to grow, understanding the preferences and ethical beliefs that drive consumer behavior is imperative. By responding to shifts in the pet care market and taking a collaborative approach, you can create authentic, long-term partnerships that elevate your practice and allow you to focus on what you do best, which is helping animals.