Cat Owner Using a Computer and Location Icons | Woodruff

A Woodruff survey reveals regional differences in price shopping for pet meds

The pet medication market is changing. With greater access to information than ever before, pet owners can now learn more about health issues facing their pets and use that information to directly purchase medicine for their pets through an increasing number of channels. In this new market, it’s vital for pet care companies to understand pet owners’ attitudes and actions toward their medication purchases.

Do they comparison shop? What do they see as valuable in products? How do they care for their pets? The answers to these questions can give pet care companies an advantage when developing strategies on how to best inform their audiences about product options.

As part of our effort to keep our fingers on the pulse for our clients, Woodruff regularly reaches out to target audiences to better understand their interests, needs and challenges and from there, identify any special indicators that help us further explore market opportunities and customer reactions for clients. To find the answers our pet health clients might be looking for, we reached out to a panel of 240 people who own at least one dog or cat to gauge their attitudes toward their pets’ prescriptions.

The net takeaways?

  • There are regional differences in how interested pet owners are in discussing prescription medications.
  • Pet owners will price shop for meds regardless of income level; some regions are more likely than others.
  • Consumers’ likelihood to price shop opens up marketing opportunities for generics as alternatives.

The Influence of Advertising of Prescription Medications

According to research conducted by Packaged Facts, an expansion of veterinarian services is being offered in channels such as apps, virtual visits and big box pet stores.1 Pet owners now have the option to go outside of their pet’s veterinary clinic to learn about prescriptions or even purchase them. Greater access to these services increases the availability of pet owners’ choices. In turn, their willingness to try medication brand alternatives is greater than ever.

What does this mean for pet health companies? It means that building awareness for products, creating relevancy and marketing directly to pet owners about prescriptions for dog or cat health conditions is an effective strategy to reach these audiences where they live.

Other insights we gleaned from the survey:

  • After seeing prescription products advertised, pet owners do want to discuss them with a veterinarian.
  • Pet owners in the South are three times as likely as those in the Midwest to talk to their pet’s veterinarian about prescriptions.
  • Targeted opportunities about pet medication could be a good way to test-market products to a more receptive audience in the South.

Figure 1

Pet Owners Will Search for Low-Cost Alternatives

Veterinarian office visits or calls might be few and far between for pet owners, because they’re becoming savvier as to how to fill the information gap between what they get from their pets’ veterinarians and what they can search and find online themselves. More and more, social channels offer opportunities for pet owners to seek a larger group of opinions about pet health that influence their decisions.

Woodruff found that pet owners also fill that information gap when comparing prices for their pet’s prescriptions. They feel comfortable learning more about product alternatives, weighing the differences and discovering what lower-cost products are available. We also found that income level wasn’t a large factor here; even people with higher incomes ($75,000 and above) price shop. (If you’re interested in what the survey revealed about pet owners’ incomes and trying generic medications — besides saving money — let us know!)

Here’s what the survey revealed about price shopping:

  • Only 22% of Midwest pet owners indicated they price shop their pet’s medications.
  • More than 57% of pet owners in the South said they price shop their pet’s medications.

Figure 2

Addressing the Unmet Need

This research shows us that marketing prescription choices to pet owners in just one or two test markets is a smart way to gain immediate results and insights with minimal investment. But there’s far more that we can learn from these stats, and we’d love to share more.

Woodruff can help you achieve greater success with your target audiences by putting research to work to help you customize strategies.

Ready to boost your brand and penetrate your target market? Let’s get started.


1Packaged Facts Survey, Packaged Facts’ Survey of Pet Owners featured in Pet Medications in the U.S. December 2019.