Posted by Leger ● Oct 3, 2023 8:30:00 AM
Is pet telehealth the future of veterinary care? If so, what does this mean for pet brands, especially those who rely on vet offices as a core sales location for their products?
Our research found that nearly half of U.S. dog and cat owners are interested in pet telehealth, which could mean fewer eyes on pet products at the vet's office. The rise in tele-vet services will require pet brands to reconsider how they interact and connect with pet owners and drive product innovation, which is critical to understanding consumer needs and providing new choices.
To help pet brands learn more about the shifts in consumer behaviors, attitudes, and needs related to caring for animals, we surveyed American pet owners on their knowledge of and attitudes toward tele-vet services.
Few pet owners have ever used a tele-vet service, but nearly half are interested
Among U.S. dog and cat owners, only 13% and 16%, respectively, have tried pet telehealth. However, almost half—46% of dog owners and 48% of cat owners who have not used/are not aware of pet telehealth services—are interested in using these services in the future.
Base: Have never used/heard of tele-vet services – U.S. Dog owners (n=250), U.S. Cat owners (n=246)
These results make sense given that pet telehealth was not much of an option before the pandemic. In fact, there are regulations against pet telehealth visits in many states that are now just beginning to be relaxed. For instance, some states required pets to have seen a vet in person for a hands-on exam before being treated remotely.
Now that pet telehealth is more of an option, pet brands must be ready to market their products and services in a more digitally focused way that reaches consumers where they are increasingly scheduling vet appointments: online. As consumers get increasingly comfortable with the idea of pet telehealth, pet brands must consider reaching them through channels such as email, digital ads, social media, and even SMS.
Learning from barriers to pet telehealth usage
In-person vet visits can present several downsides depending on a pet’s personality and the life circumstances of its owner. For instance, vet visits can be traumatic for dogs, cats, and other animals, and getting to a vet can be cumbersome and costly for rural pet owners.
Our research also explored barriers to using pet telehealth services. Among dog owners and cat owners who have not heard of/are not aware of tele-vet services, the top three barriers to using those services are:
- Preferring face-to-face interaction (38% and 37% respectively)
- Feeling in-person care is more personal (36% and 43% respectively)
- Being concerned tele-vet services would not be able to diagnose issues accurately or reliably (36% and 39% respectively)
For pet brands, this highlights the importance of forging meaningful and personalized connections with pet parents.
Vets who offer pet telehealth services could consider offering testimonials from happy pet parents who have used these services on their website, promoting that tele-vet services aren’t rushed, and add a personal touch as much as possible.
Although tele-vet options aren’t for everyone, pet brands who consider the implication of increased interest in pet telehealth and creatively tailor their messaging to meet pet parents where they are will succeed over those who don’t.
Use Leger’s omnibus to conduct quick research on pet-related topics
Do you work for a company that sells pet products and needs reliable data to make better decisions? We can help you activate a quick research solution on pet-related topics through our Omnibus, a high-quality, quick, easy, and affordable survey of 1,000 Americans conducted bi-weekly. For instance, you could run a quick Omnibus study to learn where pet parents look for information on new products so you can make sure your brand shows up in the best spaces—both online and off.