2019 has seen a huge growth of veterinary services and online prescription drug distribution. Current pet industry is valued at $70 billion per year, and naturally everybody wants in on it.
Walmart and Chewy are both entering the online drug market, while Petco is partnering with Express Scripts for online pharmacy, in addition to its already extensive in house pet veterinary services.
In 2018 almost 15% of all prescription pet medication came from online sources, and this number is likely to balloon in the future. Walmart, in its efforts to one up its competitors, is going full force into brick and mortar veterinary services and plans to have PetIQ vet clinics in its 1,000 locations by 2023. This expansion will help online prescription medication market to surge too, so we might be on the verge of big things.
Petco has been building its veterinary service offers and conquering the market for a few years now. In addition to expanding current relationship with Thrive and Pet Vet, which service Petco in-store veterinary clinics, the company is also going to start working with Global Veterinary Partners, VitalPet, and VetnCare as its regional partners.
Traditional veterinary clinics are not short on business too. This can be attributed to easier access to pet medications by consumers and growing focus on pets and their healthcare. Veterinarians are working hard at coming up with ways to supply their patients with medications without diverting business to somebody else, so increasing numbers of vets are opening their own pharmacies. The competition for place under the prescription medication sun is only going to intensify with Walmart, Chewy, and even Amazon jumping into that pool.
Developing new products and medications should be on marketers' minds as some well-established prescription drugs are having their patents expiring, which opens gates to generic brands and huge savings for consumers. So far generics played a small role in pets market, but that is about to change.
Current focus is on parasite, including worms, flies, ticks, and heartworm, prevention medication, which differ by product type, animal type, weight, and prescription type. Next ever popular and important areas are cancer treatments, anxiety, pain, cognitive dysfunction, diabetes, heart problems, and obesity in animals – all those areas need more research and better treatment options with new patents.
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Overall, pet medication future is looking promising because pets live longer and are diagnosed with diseases more often as people bring pets to doctors more frequently. Medication market is expected to be bigger than pet market in general as people focus on their pet wellness more and there are so many expanding physical vet office locations and online shopping for medication opportunities.
When Walmart makes ambitious veterinary plans a reality, you will be able to go into any Walmart store, get some strawberries, a burger patty, a cheap flat screen TV, and your dog de-wormed all in one visit. Ultimate convenience, right?
There are 21 clinics at Walmart today with immediate plans to open another 100 next year, and get it to a 1,000 in the next three. The services offered will include exams, vaccines, minor illnesses treatment, and all up to 60% off when compared to veterinary clinics. And did we mention Walmart already is one of the biggest pet food sellers?
While it will take some time for Walmart to build all the planned in-store clinics, online medication sales is taking flight right now as they don't require any new space. WalmartPetRx.com is beginning to sell over 300 brands of pet medication that can be delivered for free on over $35 purchase or picked up at the closest to you store, also free.
By the end of May Walmart will have 30 most requested medications in all its 4,500 U.S. locations for same-day pick up, so your little Fido won't be without heartworm meds for a day longer than needed.
While Walmart will be happily biting into that per medication pie, Chewy and Amazon won't be very overjoyed, naturally. Due to fierce competition, prices will be more affordable, making consumers and their pets the ultimate winners in this fight. These are the closest Walmart competitors who all will be affected more or less by Walmart's aggressive move into pet market:
- Amazon with Wag
- Target with its BarkBox toys and treats
- Petco with pet food and veterinary services
- General Mills, Smucker, and Nestle, which all bought pet-food brands recently