Millenial Pet Owners and How to Appeal to Them

Dr. Patty Khuly

Author: , VMD, MBA 


In some veterinary circles I run in, the subject of millennial pet owners elicits frustration. And since those of us trying to appeal to them are typically “Gen X-ers” (like me) or even more often, Baby Boomers, the generation gap has a way of creating an “us-VS-them” thing.

Marketing to and retaining these clients can be challenging, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not as difficult as one might think… if you know what drives them.

First, some basics about millennials:

  • Demographers and researchers typically agree that millennials hail from birth years between the early 1980s, and the mid-1990s to early 2000s.
  • The generation is typically defined by an increased use of and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies.
  • Socially liberal politics are often associated with the generation relative to previous generations.
  • Economically speaking, millennials have been especially affected by the great recession since most of them were children or perhaps even young adults just entering the workforce at the time. 
  • Some researchers predict they’ll be more civic-minded than previous generations. Others observe that they’re more detached from institutions and highly networked with friends instead. 
  • They’ve been labeled the “me” generation. They may be more confident and tolerant for all we’ve given them, but the flip side is that they can be entitled and narcissistic too.

So, how does all of this translate into real life marketing advice?

1: Animal welfare first

Millennials have a more civic-minded, animal welfare-centered view of the world. They believe in being “fear-free,” adopting from shelters, rescuing pets, fostering pets, responsible pet ownership, etc. These are the things they believe in. Make these causes align with yours too.

2: Socially responsible, personal pet care

Millennials tend to be more interested in socially responsible approaches to pet care. For example; when it comes to nutrition they’re more interested in where the ingredients are sourced and whether they’re sustainable than brand recognition. In fact, they tend to be more suspicious of big brands and are more likely to gravitate towards foods their friends’ pets are already on.

Knowing this, communication to this group should focus on progressive issues such as: nutrition and weight management, socialization and training, optimal approaches to sterilization, microchipping, and other basic safety measures.

3: Friend networks rule

This group tends to find new veterinarians based more on friends’ recommendations than the previous two generations. This “word-of-mouth” reality should have you rethinking your entire marketing plan, if you haven’t already. Traditional print and billboard-style messaging may not be as effective as it once was.

4: Where are their friends?

Online and on the move, of course. This generation is obviously more social media-oriented and mobile-centric than any other…which is why a “bare bones” website is probably not enough. Practice-specific apps are the new thing amongst millennial-centric practices. And mobile-friendly optimization is a must.

5: Price sensitivity

Millennials can be extremely price-sensitive. (I know mine is actually frugal to a fault). Nonetheless, I’ve found that they’re usually willing to pay what they must. It’s also true, however; that because they’re frugal, they respond especially well to the concept of pet insurance, wellness plans, and long-term savings that preventative care affords them. 

6: Individualized care

It’s been my experience that Millennials love the concept of customized care. They want something that’s been individually formulated for their pet; and they definitely don’t like to feel un-informed. Vaccination schedules, anesthetic protocols, and nutrition plans are perfect examples of areas they expect to receive customized information about.

Sure, Millennials can be viewed as being a little demanding, but if it means our pets are better for it, why should we complain?

Mind if we pay your vet bills?

Pet health insurance is administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency, LLC and underwritten by one of the licensed insurers of American Modern Insurance Group, Inc., including American Modern Home Insurance Company d/b/a in CA as American Modern Insurance Company (Lic. No 2222-8), and American Southern Home Insurance Company. Coverage is subject to policy terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions, underwriting review, and approval, and may not be available for all risks or in all states. Rates and discounts vary, are determined by many factors, and are subject to change. Wellness Rewards is offered as a supplementary, non-insurance benefit administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency in the United States. © 2020 American Modern Insurance Group, Inc.  Wellness Rewards not available in Rhode Island.