September witnessed two veterinary events in Mexico. One forum took place in central Mexico, in the state of Guanajuato, and the other in the western city of Guadalajara.
Every year thousands of veterinarians gather to catch up on the latest health trends within the pet/veterinarian environment. Moreover, the leading pet food producers get a spot at these events to promote and provide information about their prescription brands. For them, veterinarians are key target markets and a source of increasing sales.
The more technical specifications a pet food product possesses, the more difficult it will be for consumers to fully understand its benefits. Thus, veterinarians are the go-to people to ask for informed recommendations of pet foods. For this reason, some premium pet food labels invest in strategies to appeal to veterinarians about their product innovations and developments.
Additionally, pet food brands work alongside veterinarians to get them to recommend and sell their products at their vet clinics.
According to trade sources, there are nearly 35,000 veterinarians in Mexico. However, a large portion focuses on livestock species.
The most recent official census (2014) registered 8,000 privately owned pet vet clinics nationwide.
Although the veterinary channel is not sizeable in terms of pet food sales compared to other high-rotation channels, veterinarians possess a portion of the business, and more importantly, they significantly influence pet food product recommendations.
Our field research confirms that veterinarians generally recommend those brands providing the best commercial gain to them, along with the most attractive price-quality ratio. Although most veterinarians acknowledge product quality and attributes, the ultimate factor in making a pet food recommendation depends on how deep their engagement with the brand is.
With the increasing competition of the pet specialty channel, led by Petco and other retailers, veterinarians are struggling due to the effectiveness of the marketing strategies of those retailers.
However, since veterinary clinics are numerous, the pet food business of this channel is stable, favoring ongoing promotion efforts.
With the increasing trend of pet food premiumization, it is expected that veterinarians will become even more important to the industry in the years to come.
Iván Franco is the founder of Triplethree International and has collaborated on hundreds of research projects for several consumer goods industries. He was granted the Global Consultant of the Year award by Euromonitor International and authored the book 17 Market Strategies for Growth (in Spanish).
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