Pet Trends for 2012

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Yvonne-BlogPaws-smby Yvonne DiVita

Our friend and BlogPaws supporter & speaker, Laura Bennett of Embrace Pet Insurance, is once again sharing her thoughts on trends in the industry and letting the pet community know what's in store for us this year. I've followed all of her posts talking about pet trends and she's clearly got the inside scoop! (click the following link to access ALL of her pet industry trends posts)

Here are 4 of the trends I find most compelling – please hop over to her site for the other six. 

1. Veterinary spending
Emily-ThoseEyes600An oncology specialist for your Boxer? An MRI for your cat? Allergy treatments for your Golden Retriever? Yes to all of the above! In many respects, pet owners can access the same quality of care and level of treatments for their pets as for themselves and recent veterinary spending increases of 8% show that pet parents are spending more on pet healthcare than ever before.

Veterinary inflation numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics continue to show a slowdown in 2011 from about 7% in early 2009; however, inflation rates of 5-6% in 2011 are heading upwards from the prior lows of 3-4% levels in 2010, showing perhaps that veterinarians are feeling confident enough, or perhaps desperate enough, to start to drive veterinary prices up again.

Last year, we thought that the American Pet Products Association’s (APPA) 6.2% growth expectation for 2010 [1] was overly optimistic given the historically low level of veterinary inflation we were experiencing at the time; however, the actual rate of 8.1% growth turned out higher than expected indicating that, while the average cost per procedure (the inflation rate) was only increasing 3-4%, a combination of more expensive procedures chosen and an increasing number of vet visits drove up the overall expenditure.

2012 is likely to continue the trend of 8+% increases in veterinary spending and I expect that 2012 veterinary inflation will pop over the 6% level for the first time since 2008.

4. Pet Insurance Inching Into Mainstream

The US pet insurance industry reflected the recent recession by dropping growth rates from 25% in 2008
to 12% more recently. Gross written premiums (GWP) will reach $359 million in 2011 [2] up from $256 million in 2008. Market stalwart, Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), reached $200 million for the first time at the end of 2011.

The three largest US pet insurers, Veterinary Pet Insurance, Hartville Group, and Pet Health,
represented 73% of the market in 2011, a drop from 79% in 2010. VPI and Hartville experienced modest growth of 5% but Pethealth experienced a decline in premium of about 7% giving a blended growth rate of 3.8%. I expect to see the remaining companies’ growth of about 44% in 2012 compared to about 50% in 2011. Happy-tongued-dog

Next year will bring some interesting developments. At least two white-label extensions of existing products will appear in 2012, one in the online retail space, one in the banking channel. The retailer is building a new brand so expect to see significant money spend on awareness. Impact on pet insurance premium levels will be more obvious in 2013.

I expect overall premium growth of 12% in 2012 that will see the US pet insurance industry grow to approximately $400 million in GWP.

 6. Veterinarians Start Getting Social
While social networking for pet businesses went mainstream in 2010, veterinarians lagged behind, not sure how to participate. Would clinic clients want to “friend” their clinic on Facebook? Would they like to tweet with their vet after-hours? You bet they would, and veterinary clinics worked that out in 2011. Chances are your clinic will be on Facebook in 2012 if they aren’t already there. Clinics like Austinburg Veterinary Clinic and Southern Colorado Veterinary Internal Medicine use Facebook to share pet health info with their clients as well as let them know about clinic happenings. 

9. Single Doctor Veterinary Clinics Decline
Did your veterinarian recently retire and sell off his/her clinic? Veterinarians are not immune to demographic trends in the US and they are coming up to retirement in droves. For those with larger clinics, VCA has been scooping up all it can find, including specialty clinics. The veterinary world is destined to go the way of funeral homes. Your local undertaker might look like a small family operation, but likely they are part of a large corporation. 2012 will only continue this trend. 

I really believe all of these trends will happen – Laura may have the 'inside' track, so to speak, but just paying attention to what's happening in the veterinary world and the pet community as a whole, can tell you a lot. Laura's post has a great bibliography, showcasing her resources, so hop over and read the entire article - and check those resources out. Well worth your time today.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/laurabennett Laura

    Thanks so much for sharing Yvonne! If anyone has any other trends they’d like to share, please do!

  • http://www.YouDidWhatWithYourWeiner.com Jessica @ YouDidWhatWithYourWeiner

    We stuck our toe in the pet insurance pool last year. I know we are planning to upgrade this year.

  • http://all4urpet.com/ LizAnn

    I think you are spot on with these trends! I’ve seen some of them happening in my own life, so I can only imagine how much of these other people are doing too! My vet recently joined Facebook, and I couldn’t be happier seeing updates about animals that attend my vet… it’s so local! Plus, I’m hoping my dog might get featured one day too 🙂
    LizAnn
    All4UrPet Representative
    http://all4urpet.com/
    Check out the App store for Android and iPhone to download our mobile application! Simply search All4UrPet.

  • http://www.bouncingboxerbabies.com dobounci

    My vet offers a Pet Portal. This has really been nice since one of our Boxers spend part of the time with our daughter, in the Army, and the remainder of the time with us. She has trouble keeping up with the shot records so all she has to do is pull it up on the Pet portal to show proof of vaccinations. The dogs are pictured as well for further ID

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