Marketing to millennial veterinary clients and beyond

dvm360dvm360 July 2021
Volume 57

Learn how to steer more millennial pet parents to your practice by using effective communication, enhancing your social media content, and adopting a customer-centric approach.



Within the last 10 years, the millennial generation has taken entire industries by storm including casual dining, department stores, and cable TV providers. As a millennial who runs an animal health marketing agency, I can attest to how we think differently, shop differently, and feel differently when it comes to our pets and having novel expectations for our veterinary practices. It pays to understand us. This article will serve as a crash course in millennial thinking, from how we choose to why we stay, how we’ll spend, and everything in between.

Getting to know us

Millennials make up the largest generation in the United States with approximately 72 million.1 We are also the likeliest to own pets; in fact, 76% of us do.2 Besides becoming the new Goliath in the animal health market, we feel differently about our pets. When giving talks at conferences, I often joke that I would sell my car to finance essential care for my pets Cole and Lula, and I’m not alone. Of millennials, 42% regard pets like children.2 Part of this is the natural forward march of the human-animal bond, and part is also because we are delaying child rearing into our 30s and 40s. Pets fill the gap that children previously did. To us, they really are family.

We also shop differently. The way we select our products and services is digitally savvy and thorough. We log several hours a day on our smartphones, are heavy consumers of content on various social media platforms and expect substantially more thoughtfulness and customer-centricity from the brands that serve us.

I have spent well over $10,000 on my pets within the last few months because I would never dream of forgoing essential care. In many ways, we can be considered paradoxes. Committed to our pets but savvy about market pricing. Driven by humanist values but eager to pirate media content instead of paying for it. Enlightened about the importance of wellness but logging 5 to 10 hours a day on our smartphones. Why? Simple. We are the first generation to grow up with the internet. Now, I’m going to teach you how to effectively reach us through it.

Think differently

If you’re a millennial, then you probably remember Myspace. It was our first foray into social media. We picked our top 8 friends, our cover song, and began curating a persona for our peers to see. We grew up with social media. For better or worse, it is a permanent part of our personalities. It’s how we connect to the world and spend our time. And it’s where you must meet us.

The 2 most popular brands among millennials are Apple and Nike.3 Why? Because their marketing doesn’t brag, boast, or bay about how incredible their products are. They celebrate their customers and the values that bind them. To drive more millennials to your practice, consider curating content that celebrates pet owners and pets and the love they share. Don’t just tell stories about what makes you so awesome; tell stories about why we feel the way we do about our pets. Stories that remind us or even teach us why we care so much. This will create brand awareness and affinity.

Millennial shopping

When we are actively seeking veterinary services, there are 2 critical assets we look for: your reviews and your website. Why? Because the real question we are seeking an answer to is: Can we trust you? Your Google Business review score can be thought of as table stakes; for many of us, if you have below a 4.5 score, we are unlikely to consider you. Often, we’ll even read through the reviews to see the breadth of sentiment that your current clients have for you. This makes it imperative that you have a thoughtful strategy to generate positive reviews and an empathetic strategy to respond to any negative reviews.

To successfully drive more millennials to your website, find ways that make you stand out among the competition. Millennials seek out businesses who share similar values, emotions, priorities, hopes, and fears. Your website is your opportunity to tell a story of what makes your practice special, different, and uniquely suited to meet our needs.

Convenience is king

We prioritize use over ownership, convenience over uncertainty. This will be integral in a winning value proposition to millennial pet owners. Think about ways you can fit yourself into our lifestyle. We prefer brands that are easy to communicate with (eg, via text and social platforms) and create authentic digital relationships with. Brands who make it easier to do business with them than the others and care deeply about customer-centricity. Becoming a more fanatically customer-centric clinic can help drive more millennial pet owners to your doors. We respond to the dopamine rush of a company that makes everything simple and engaging.

Where to begin

Now that you have a primer on how millennials think, what we respond to, and what tools to use to attract more of us, your next step should be thinking about ways to bolster your digital footprint. Think about the ways you can enhance your social media presence, content strategy, website, and making your practice more customer-centric. Do that, and who knows—maybe I’ll be giving you a call.

Robert Sanchez is the founder and CEO of Digital Empathy, an award-winning web design and marketing firm for veterinary practices. He frequently lectures at national conferences, leads a team of wonderful employees, sits on the board of VetPartners, and shares his home with two very spoiled dogs—Cole and Lula.


  1. Resident population in the United States in 2019, by generation. Statista. June 2020. Accessed June 15, 2021.
  2. YPulse Inc.-Youth research, insights. 76% of millennials are pet parents—here’s what they’ve been buying for them. Published August 24, 2020. Accessed June 21, 2021.
  3. Flores J, Cohen N. Top 100 Millennial Brands 2020. Moosylvania. Published March 25, 2021. Accessed June 21, 2021.
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