Report: Vet Services are Helping Pet Stores Stay Competitive
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There are a variety of forces that can drive the pet industry, but a particularly noteworthy one is the continuing expansion of veterinary clinics in retail stores, according to a new report by market research firm Packaged Facts.
“Today’s pet industry is an ‘omnimarket’ where pet industry players aren’t simply competing across brick-and-mortar channels and the internet,” said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts, which is headquartered in Rockville, Md.
Omnimarket, as described by the market research firm, is a new era of multiple-front competition that simultaneously crosses former business operations borders between medical versus non-medical; products versus services; food versus non-food products; and pet owner demographics.
“This notably includes veterinary expansion into retail stores,” Packaged Facts officials said.
Recent examples of the pet industry’s omnimarket shift, according to officials, include Petco adding Thrive (in-store) and PetCoach (freestanding) clinics, a strategy that parallels with PetSmart’s affiliation with Banfield Pet Hospitals; PetIQ partnering with Walmart to open vet clinics in as many as 1,000 stores by the end of 2023, and subsequently is partnering with Meijer, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer; and Tractor Supply Co. offering pop-up veterinary clinics at its locations.
“This new era of multiple-front competition has been fueled by booming e-commerce in pet products, but as importantly is being shaped by the competitive reactions of traditional pet product manufacturers and retailers,” officials said. “Pet superstores are responding to—and mass-market big boxes are exploiting—the internet’s erosion of the brick-and-mortar distinction between pet specialty and mass market by in turn collapsing the distinction between retail store and vet clinic/pet care salon, specifically because hands-on pet care is the Achilles’ heel of the internet as a pet care provider and pet industry competitor.”
Sprinkle said that they expect hands-on pet care will remain the calling card of the veterinary sector, but selectively and progressively expanded in scope, and supplemented by internet and digital technologies and communications.
Not only do these in-store clinics offer consumers increased access to veterinary care and pet medications, their presence promotes the overall concept of pet wellness, officials said.
“Even so, such expansion presents challenges to the business success of many traditional, independent vets and to the autonomy of the veterinarian profession, by shifting the balance of power in favor of larger consumer market players and forces,” officials added.