Getting Millennial Clients on Board With Preventive Care

It's no secret that millennials love their pets and regard them as members of the family. According to a 2017 report by the APPA National Pet Owners Survey Debut, 41% of millennials stated that money was no object when it came to their pet.

And they actually do spend more money on their pets than other age cohorts. In a 2018 Packaged Facts report called "Gen Z and Millennials as Pet Market Consumers," it was reported that 54% of millennials reported spending $50 or more on their pets in the last 30 days and 27% of millennials had spent more than $75 on their pets in the last 30 days.

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By creating an effective marketing message, veterinary practices can educate those clients on the importance of spending money on things that will make a difference in the lives of their pets, such as preventive care diagnostics. Still, figuring out the right message can be a challenge when you are a busy practice manager or owner. How can you create a campaign that will actually be effective?

Competing With Dr. Google

Wakefield Research conducted surveys in 2019 with 1,019 U.S. pet owners and 500 Canadian pet owners to find out how pet owners feel about preventive care diagnostics and to help determine what the most effective messages are in motivating pet owners to agree to preventive care diagnostics during their pet wellness visits. They found that pet owners, and millennial pet owners, in particular, do their research prior to bringing pets to the vet. In fact, 31% of millennial owners "always" research online prior to veterinary visits and 32% of millennial owners say that they "usually" research prior to visits. And, they consult with Dr. Google after the visit, as well. Specifically, 26% of millennial pet owners always research after their pet's visit and 36% state they usually hit the web after an appointment.

How can we compete against Dr. Google? The silver lining is that millennial clients trust their veterinarian more than any other source; 65% percent reported that they found talking with their veterinarian to be the most trusted source of information when it comes to screening diagnostics. This means veterinary practices can really make a difference in how millennial pet owners view the importance of preventive care, and with the right messaging, we can get them to say yes.

Finding the Right Message

Wakefield Research tested eight messages about preventive care diagnostics to determine which ones would be the most believable and most motivating. These messages included:

  • Giving pets a voice
  • Guarding against invasive treatments later
  • Ensuring that my pet is healthy
  • Acting as an early warning system
  • Managing my pet's overall health by checking internal health
  • Catching potential health issues earlier to avoid expensive interventions
  • Comparing year to year to better understand my pet's health
  • Uncovering problems in seemingly healthy pets

The messages that were by far the most believable and motivating were "catching potential health issues early to avoid expensive interventions" and "acting as an early warning system." Creating an education campaign around these two messages will be the most effective in getting millennial clients to agree to preventive care diagnostics during their pets' wellness visits. Before hearing these messages, 63% of millennial pet owners said they were very likely to or would definitely perform early screening diagnostics on their pets. After hearing these two messages, the percentage increased to 77%.

Helping Your Staff Embrace the Messaging

How can we use these messages to also motivate our staff to talk about preventive care diagnostics with our clients? Many of our teams are filled with millennial staff members who love their pets just as much as our millennial clients. These messages will resonate with them, too! Make it easy for your staff to learn firsthand how helpful early screening diagnostics can be by offering them free tests. If they understand the value of screening diagnostics, they will recommend them more frequently and more effectively to clients.

It's a good idea to place easy-to-see reminders with the right messaging in strategic places around the practice so that staff members are reminded to share the benefits of catching potential health issues sooner — specifically, to avoid expensive intervention later and because early screening diagnostics can act as an early warning system before pets show any symptoms. If everyone, from the front desk to the technician to the DVM, is on board with giving those two consistent messages, clients will hear it and embrace it. Use your practice reminder system to send emails with these messages prior to wellness visits. The more clients hear how much this can benefit their pets, the more likely they will say yes at the appointment.

The research proves millennials want the best for their pets. By sharing the value and importance of preventive care with them at each and every wellness visit, we can help make sure their pets have longer, healthier lives.

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Julie Miles

Julie Miles graduated from Ohio State in 2006. Dr. Miles spent two and a half years working in private practice. She then joined Lighthouse Veterinary Personnel Services in 2009, where she worked as a relief veterinarian and manager for five years. In 2014, she opened Compassionate Care Animal Hospital, which has grown into a two doctor practice. Her professional interests include client communications, preventative care, dentistry, and feline medicine. She and her husband, Dale, have two boys, Henry and Evan. In a previous life, she earned her Master's of Social Work and worked in crisis intervention and discharge planning. Some days that degree is more helpful than her DVM.

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