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4 Things to Know About the Next Generation of Pet Owners

Updated: May 31

According to a recent report, over the past decade, Generation Z (18- to 24-year-olds) and Millennials (25- to 39-year-olds) have accounted for more than half of the growth in the pet owner population. What does mean for veterinary clinics? Well, for one, it’s a clear indicator that the targeted client base is getting younger. And as with every generation, there are unique factors about these demographics that should be noted in order to successfully reach and serve them in your practice. Below, our practice growth experts share four key things to keep in mind.

They prefer to work with smaller brands and/or family-owned companies.

Believe it or not, the up-and-coming generation of pet parents has a preference for small business. A lot of this has to do with trust. For smaller, independently-owned vet clinics, this is excellent news – especially for those located geographically close to some of the bigger corporate chains. In order to take advantage of this, make sure your messaging conveys a warm, personal touch and that you prioritize individualized care. The sooner you can make those connections and start earning that trust, the more likely you’ll be to win a client for life.

They Rely on Experts for Their Guidance

Pet owners who are under the age of 40 tend to rely much more heavily on the advice of experts than their older counterparts. They’re also much more likely to purchase products directly from their veterinarian as opposed to a pet store. As a result, you will need to more welcoming of questions and accommodating to their product needs. It may take a little bit more hand-holding on your part, but in the end, the boost in client education and compliance that will come as a result will benefit everyone – especially your patients.

They’re Interested in Non-Traditional Options

Whether it’s having vet care delivered in their homes or ordering their pet’s medications online, clients from Gen Z and the Millennial generation are far more comfortable using newer, more modern and less traditional means of service. For open-minded, forward-thinking vets, this represents a great opportunity to expand, grow and really differentiate themselves. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to when and how you deliver your care and services.

They Enjoy the Company of Many Different Species

In addition to non-traditional service options, younger pet owners also tend to have more eclectic taste in terms of the types of animals they prefer to adopt. At last check, Millennial and Gen Z clients make up a disproportionate share of owners who have pocket pets, birds, fish, reptiles and other exotics. As a result, your younger prospects will be seeking out the care and expertise of a veterinary professional who can serve a variety of different types of patients. If you’re not yet among them, the time to start is now.

Targeting different demographics requires a deep and accurate understanding of what drives each to make their purchasing decisions. The veterinary industry is no exception to this rule. By taking the four things above into account, you’ll be better able to hone your marketing message and adapt your services to satisfy the needs and desires of your younger and most lucrative prospects.

Our Advice on Things to Know About the Next Generation of Pet Owners in 2024

How can veterinary practices effectively market their services to Gen Z and Millennial pet owners, given their preference for digital communication channels?

To effectively market veterinary services to Gen Z and Millennial pet owners, practices should emphasize a digital-first communication strategy. This includes maintaining an active online presence through social media and a user-friendly website, offering online scheduling, and providing virtual consultation options. It's crucial to highlight personalized care and the availability of diverse services suitable for a variety of pets, from traditional to exotic. Engaging content that demonstrates expertise and a commitment to animal well-being can build trust and appeal directly to these younger, tech-savvy client bases.

How can practices ensure that their staff members are well-equipped to provide expert guidance and product recommendations to Gen Z and Millennial clients?

To ensure staff members are well-equipped to provide expert guidance and product recommendations to Gen Z and Millennial clients, veterinary practices should invest in regular training that emphasizes the latest advancements in pet care and customer service. This includes familiarization with the types of products and services these younger demographics value. Additionally, practices should encourage staff to engage in continuous learning and professional development, particularly in areas such as digital communication tools and non-traditional pet care, which are highly valued by these age groups.

How can practices balance the desire to appeal to younger pet owners with the need to maintain relationships with established clients from older generations?

Veterinary practices can balance appealing to younger pet owners while maintaining relationships with older clients by adopting a flexible communication strategy that caters to different preferences. For example, integrating digital tools like online booking and social media engagement can attract Gen Z and Millennials, while preserving traditional communication methods such as phone calls and in-person visits appeals to older generations. Practices should also emphasize consistent, high-quality care across all services, ensuring that both newer and longstanding clients feel valued and well-served.

How can practices measure and track the impact of their efforts to engage and retain Gen Z and Millennial clients?

Veterinary practices can measure and track the impact of their efforts to engage and retain Gen Z and Millennial clients by using a combination of digital analytics and client feedback. Key metrics could include online engagement rates, website traffic, and conversion rates for services booked through digital platforms. Practices should also conduct regular surveys to gauge client satisfaction and preferences, focusing on the specific services and communication methods that resonate with these younger demographics. Additionally, tracking retention rates and referral numbers can provide insight into the effectiveness of targeted marketing strategies.

What lessons can be learned from other industries or sectors that have successfully adapted to the needs and preferences of younger consumers?

Other industries offer valuable lessons for veterinary practices looking to adapt to younger consumers. For example, the retail sector's use of targeted social media campaigns and influencer partnerships can be applied to promote veterinary services and products relevant to younger pet owners. Additionally, the tech industry's focus on user experience in app development provides insights into creating engaging and efficient digital platforms for appointment booking and consultations. Hospitality's emphasis on personalized experiences can guide veterinary practices in tailoring services to meet the specific needs and expectations of Gen Z and Millennials.

For more tips and expert advice on practice management in the digital age, please bookmark our DVMelite blog and check back frequently for fresh content.

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