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Millennials: The New Generation of Pet Owners An Introductory Guide for Veterinary Practices

What is the “Millennial Generation”? Should you prepare your practice to better serve this generation?

For decades, sociologists, marketers and other research think tanks have measured public attitudes on key issues and documenting those issues across demographic groups. They utilize the term “generation” to document these attitudes across different demographic groups. Generations provide the opportunity to look at Americans both by their place in the life cycle – whether a young adult, a middle-aged parent, or a retiree – and by their membership in a cohort of individuals who were born at a similar time. (1)

They can provide a way to understand how different formative experiences (such as world events and technological, economic, and social shifts) interact with the life cycle and aging process to shape people’s views of the world. While younger and older adults may differ in their views at a given moment, generational cohorts allow researchers to examine how today’s older adults felt about a given issue when they themselves were young, as well as to describe how the trajectory of views might differ across generations.

A recent survey conducted in 2020/21 showed:

1. Millennials Love Their Pets and Expect More Interaction With Their Veterinarian

  • Millennials represented the biggest share of pet owners in the United States (32 percent); second place were Baby Boomers (27 percent); Generation Xers came in third (24 percent).
  • They spent more on their pets in 2021 than other generations.
  • They expect to take an active and involved role in their pet(s) care and treatment decisions.
  • They expect to interact with their veterinarian on a more equal footing and in a more personal way.
  • They face an overabundance of medical information online.
  • They want more communication rather than less and want to have diseases and their effects on pet-wellbeing explained to them. (Previous generations are less involved in the need to understand why veterinarians prescribed certain treatments over others).
  • Millennial pet owners want to be engaged and informed.

2.  They Love Technology and Expect Companies They Purchase From To Utilize Technology

  • More than nine-in-ten Millennials (93% of consumers aged between 23 to 38 this year) own smartphones, compared with 90% of Gen Xers (those ages 39 to 54 this year), 68% of Baby Boomers (ages 55 to 73) and 40% of the Silent Generation (74 to 91), according to a new analysis of a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted in early 2019.
  • All Millennials (nearly 100%) now say they use the internet, and 19% of them are smartphone-only internet users – that is, they own a smartphone but do not have broadband internet service at home. When it comes to smartphone-only internet users, 17% of Gen Xers go online primarily via a smartphone, as do 11% of Boomers and 15% of Silents.
  • Tablet ownership is now comparable across most generations. Today, 55% of Gen Xers, 53% of Millennials and 52% of Boomers say they own tablets. A smaller share of Silents (33%) report owning tablets.
  • They prefer brands who embrace technology because they find it easier to communicate through technology (text, website automation and social platforms).

3.  They are social

  • Most Millennials (86%) use social media, but the share of Millennials who say they use social media has remained unchanged since 2012.   (The shares of Gen Xers, Boomers and Silents who use social media all have increased by at least 10 percentage points during this period.)
  • In terms of specific platforms, around three-fourths or more of both Millennials and Gen Xers now report using Facebook (84% vs. 74%, respectively).
  • Millennials use reviews and ratings when deciding on a purchase. 

2022:  Is Your Practice Ready for an Increase in Millennial Pet Owners?

Run a practice management report and identify the generational ages of your client base. What percentage is the millennial generation in your practice? Is it growing? Was it higher in 2021 than 2020? Think about what this means to your practice and how your practice plans to evolve.

Millennials want more communication rather than less and to have diseases and their effects on pet-wellbeing explained to them. Therefore, your staffs’ communication skills and client education will become increasingly important.

Use of technology is important to Millennials. Be sure you are taking advantage of all the available online/digital channels to communicate medical product information, including your website, email, chat groups, blogs, social media and online advertising. Traditional communication methods, such as post card appointment reminders, will result in a decreased perception of value of your practice in the Millennials.  Millennials have a high rate of utilizing search engines and purchasing behaviors that center around digital interactions. Therefore, standard practices may send the wrong message to a millennial.

It is important to provide an electronic means to obtain any pet care information you are offering.

If you are not already using the channels mentioned above, make it part of your 2022 plan to begin using the channels. Not only will this educate your clients, but you are also investing in customer loyalty.

2022 Plan:  Where to Start?

  • Identify your communication channels and analyze 2021 communication messages. The higher of practice personalized, medical type messages, the better.
  • Identify ways in which you can effectively increase and manage your current online reviews.  A full 73% of online consumers (a large part Millennials) said they read only recent reviews (no older than one month).
  • Make sure your practice website is up to date and contains as much digital veterinary information as possible, such as care guides and how to videos. It should also be up to date with current employees, current in-hospital photos and services offered. Millennials want to get to know you before purchasing and are seeking like-minded individuals. You should talk about why you became a veterinarian or why you do (or do not) offer a particular service.
  • Make sure you provide tips and links that help pet owners make informed choices about where to seek online information, including links to your educational pages.  This will help pet owners in your area differentiate between unscientific advice and reliable information online.
  • Plan on increasing the use of digital technology at your practice:
    • Request or Book an Appointment should be available on your website and social media channels. Text to request an appointment is a bonus.
    • Email or text a client after a visit: “It was so great to see Fluffy today”!
    • After a procedure, use email or text the next day to see how the pet is doing.
    • Use of text messaging or online forms for prescription food and medication refills.
    • Use of automatic check-in processes. 

Getting started may seem daunting. If you would like any additional information, forms to use or assistance with formulating a plan or analyzing your data, give us a call.

Cheshire Partners, LLC. is a website design and digital marketing company focusing on the veterinary and pet industries. We make it easy for veterinarians and animal hospitals to succeed on the web. Founded in 1983 and built on a solid foundation of experience in branding, marketing, website design, social media strategy and internet technology, we have over 20 years of experience working with clients to understand how to market to their desired client base, design or redesign websites that create revenue and implement online advertising and social media programs that meet targeted results. 

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