Millennials are coming to the rescue? That’s right, they’re taking their heads out of their phones and showing up at your clinic for preventive care. They get it, and surprise—it’s cats benefiting even more than dogs. However, their concerns and needs must be addressed.
While pet ownership has overall been on the rise since 2000, routine care visits have suffered a significant decline. The American Veterinary Medical Association response, called Partners for Healthy Pets, and various studies have confirmed the problem. The AVMA, among others, have provided information on why checkups for pets have been down, and offer several tools to help. However, the real solution might be happening right now, with millennials leading the way.
When you think about it, millennial attachment to their pets isn’t a shocker. This is the generation that calls their pets “fur babies” or refer to themselves as pet parents. Actually, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA) Pet Owners Survey 2017–2018, just over 70 percent of millennial dog caretakers and 55 percent of millennial cat caretakers say their pet “is like a child.”
While all age groups partake in social media, many millennials live there in a sort of an “alternative reality.” But they don’t live alone—their pets are right there with them. And who would have predicted that cats would become the hottest topic on the net?
Cat cafes not only exist in most major American cities today, but when they are visited, a super highway of cute images flood Instagram, where some celebrity cats have thousands or even millions of followers around the world. Grumpy Cat, Maru, Lil Bub, Venus, and Cole and Marmalade are among the rock star celeb cats who are household names. All of this has been driven by millennials.
Now, combine all that with some additional data. Only 21 percent of millennials are married, while 42 percent of Baby Boomers were married at the same age. Most millennials do have at least one pet. And living in apartments in greater numbers today than previous generations, they are also more likely to have cats than Baby Boomers at the same age.
Millennials may not start out with financial resources to pay for all care. Debt does exist, for sure, but that decreases significantly among older millennials. Most importantly, according to the APPA survey, millennials are willing to spend on their pets.
So, if millennials perceive their beloved fur child isn’t being treated well, or that they are not receiving value for what they paid—they won’t hesitate to find another clinic which better matches their expectations. Still, while loyalty isn’t what it once was, there are ways to bond even fickle millennials to practices.
According to a Human Animal Bond Research Initiative and Banfield study, Millennials and the Human Animal Bond:
- 77% of millennials would have a more favorable view of their veterinarian if they discussed the health benefits of the human-animal bond with them.
- 74% of millennials would be more likely to visit their veterinarian if they discussed the health benefits of the human–animal bond with them.
- 25% of millennials always talk to their veterinarians about the health benefits of pet ownership, more than other generations.
There’s no doubt that Fear Free has been responsible for a major paradigm shift. Not only in about three years’ time do most veterinary professionals know about this initiative, the public is actually now seeking out Fear Free certified professionals and Fear Free practices. There’s no data (yet) to demonstrate that millennials are leading the way, but there is data to demonstrate they lead the way in increasing veterinary visits, so extrapolating an association isn’t a stretch. There’s no doubt that Fear Free and the idea of addressing emotional health and well–being is exactly what the doctor ordered for millennials.
Cat Friendly Practices has compelling data on how practices are benefiting, beginning with 75% agree that feline check-up visits are up, 80% of clients respond with positive feedback to the Cat Friendly approach, and 79% of Cat Friendly Practices note an increase in revenue.
Clearly what millennials are seeking is answered with bond–centered approaches. Millennials want and may be able to afford the best medical care ever, but trust in you to deliver not only medically for their “fur babies”, but also their emotional well–being. +