Today's Veterinary Business

JUN 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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43 June/July 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM I've set out to examine PetGen from two perspectives here: tech- nological trends and their relation- ships with pets. I unearthed recent survey data that highlight how our PetGen consumers and colleagues are highly centered on both. PetGen and Technology • PetGeners check their smart- phone 43 times a day. • PetGeners have more pic- tures of their pets on their smartphone than their two- legged family. • 65 percent would rather lose their car than their smart- phone or computer. • 90 percent are on social media. • 69 percent are open to using new technology, compared with 33 percent of boomers. PetGen and Pets • 2.6 million will become pet owners between now and 2020. • 82 percent feel that getting a pet is part of preparing to have a family. • 60 percent own clothing for their pet. • 86 percent are more likely to splurge on their pet than themselves. • 41 percent say money is no barrier to pet care. Pet numbers are up, pet life spans are up, pet spending is up, euthanasia is down. And more good news: PetGen spends more on veterinary care and pet services than any other generation. So the ever-pressing question is how can our profession best adapt to meet PetGen's needs? First, let's step back. Those of us who track professional trends were wringing our hands in fear just a few years ago. The demise of boom- ers and the emergence of PetGen was expected to put a big hurt in the growth of our profession. Recall the formula that has driven the pet profession for pre- ceding generations: Go to school, get married, buy a house, have kids, get a pet. PetGen, on the other hand, is not getting married, is not buying houses, is not hav- ing kids and has significantly less discretionary income. We feared that even if this generation were to be pet owners, they wouldn't be spending nearly as much. Much to our surprise, PetGeners have launched a completely new boom in our profession. They've created their own path. Frequently, a pet is the first thing they get when they leave their childhood home. PetGen gets a first pet at age 21 and boomers got theirs at 29. The bond PetGeners share is remarkable. As they leave their parents' homes, they are getting a "fur baby," for whom they pro- vide the very best in food, holiday gifts, veterinary care and beyond. What has become increasingly evident is that veterinarians are no longer competing for PetGen discretionary dollars. PetGeners will find a way to provide care for their four-legged family members. It is not discretionary. The "fur baby" economy is here. Let's dive a little deeper. The two major categories of PetGen that our industry must consider are clients and our colleagues. The PetGen demographic includes new graduate veterinarians and comprises the bulk of the teams we work with as well as the majority of team members at my practice, WellHaven PetHealth. The PetGen Client These clients are true digital natives, as the statistics above show. Our industry should be keeping up, but our technological prowess surely leaves something to be desired. But first, a caveat: I write this column with a smirk on my face knowing that my kids are going to merciless- ly mock me should they ever read it. I am a boomer; a digital dummy. So, there is a steep road ahead for myself and my boomer colleagues to truly adapt to and implement technology into our practices. It's on us to disrupt the current client experience and embrace the tech-native PetGen. Our current For decades, baby boomers have been a dominant force in our profession both as consumers and colleagues. No longer. Millennials — hereafter referred to as PetGen (you'll see why) — are now the primary pet-owning demograph- ic. Thirty-five percent of U.S. pet owners are members of PetGen, which grew up with the internet and smartphones and who make up the majority of our work family. Baby boomers comprise 32 percent of pet owners, according to the American Pet Products Association. Community CREATIVE DISRUPTION By Bob Lester, DVM Opportunity knocks Millennials spend more on veterinary care and pet services than any other generation, so what are you doing to embrace them?

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