New Study to Examine Shopping Habits of Pet Owners

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A comprehensive new research study of pet owner shopping habits launches this fall for the purpose of understanding how changes in the sales of pet product and pet pharmacy are affecting the average pet owner.

A comprehensive new research study of pet owner shopping habits launches this fall for the purpose of understanding how changes in the sales of pet product and pet pharmacy are affecting the average pet owner. The study, which begins this month and concludes in January 2008, is being undertaken by Market Directions and Brakke Consulting.

With the phenomenal growth in the number of available pet products, both ethical and over the counter, pet owners are flocking to the Internet for information and products as never before. Online pharmacies such as PetMed Express offer real alternatives to veterinary clinics for vet-only products, and are growing at a double-digit pace. Traditional veterinary clinics are trying to compete as the online boom continues.

This national study will explore how this shift in pet product sales is affecting the pet owners - and what it means for marketers of these products. The key topics the study will address are:

1. What products do pet owners routinely buy, where do they buy them, how often do they buy them, and how much do they spend?

2. How often do pet owners purchase prescription or vet-only products outside the veterinary channel? Why? From whom? Would they prefer to purchase the products from their veterinarians if the veterinarians competed on price and/or convenience?

3. What perceived value does the veterinarian actually add to products sold through the veterinary channel? At what price discount, if any, would pet owners switch to identical products available through OTC channels?

4. What role does convenience or store location play in pet owners' preferences for purchasing from specific outlets, such as Wal-Mart, pet superstores, independent pet stores, veterinary clinics, catalogs and online retailers? Which products are most vulnerable to "leakage"?

5. How often do pet owners actually consult veterinarians about product choices, and where else do they look for information? Who/what has credibility and who doesn't?

6. What is the demand for services such as pet health insurance, day-care and boarding? How well is the need being met? What value, if any, does the veterinarian add to these services?

7. How does behavior in all of these areas vary by income, age, location of residence, behavioral segment, ethnicity and other demographic factors?

The Pet Owner Channel Use Study is based on a survey of a random national sample of more than 1,000 dog and cat owners. The report examines purchasing frequency by brand and by type of outlet, channel switching in product purchasing, and the importance of convenience, price and veterinary recommendation on purchasing patterns.

Products included:

  • Wellness and therapeutic pet foods
  • Flea and tick control
  • Heartworm prevention
  • Dental health products
  • Pain management and other chronic-use medications
  • Joint health supplements
  • Pet health insurance
  • Boarding and day-care services

The study will be fielded in September 2007, with completion by January 4. Upon publication, the price of the study is $12,500.

The Pet Owner Channel Use Study from Brakke and Market Directions provides actionable data for every pet product marketer to use in designing marketing and sales channel strategies. For example, the study will help subscribers:

  • Focus resources in the most productive areas
  • Build more effective defense strategies in key channels
  • Recalibrate channel strategies for principal products
  • Build innovative channel strategies for new products and categories

Market Directions is a Kansas City-based market research and brand performance consultancy firm. Both companies have deep experience in the pet care and veterinary markets. Brakke Consulting, Inc., is a Dallas-based management consulting firm specializing in the animal health and nutrition industries.

For more information about the Pet Owner Channel Use Study, contact John Volk, Brakke Consulting, jvolk(@)brakkeconsulting.com, (773) 327-4941; or Susan Spaulding, Market Directions, (816) 448-3055, susan(@)marketdirections.com.

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