Diana Smith
Diana Smith is the Associate Director for Mintel’s US Retail and Apparel Reports. Diana writes reports and explores trends in the retail and apparel categories.

Most people will tell you their pet is just as important as any member of their family. Well, Walgreens is now ready to offer specific services for your furry relative. That’s right, Walgreens is partnering with ShotVet, a Florida veterinary company, to test low-cost, walk up clinics for cats and dogs in the parking lots of Walgreens locations in Florida, Georgia and now Massachusetts. ShotVet visits each participating store for one hour per month with a vet, technician, and client educator who explains the packages. The company is offering preventative care services such as rabies and other vaccines, heartworm and Lyme disease tests, and micro-chipping provided by state-licensed veterinarians. No appointments are required, providing more flexibility to customers.

What is most attractive about this though is the price, which provides an estimated 70 percent savings versus most vet offices. This can be especially appealing given that, according to Mintel’s America’s Pet Owners 2014 report, vet services comprise 25% of pet owners’ pet-related expenses, second after pet food.

Walgreens is already the most frequented drug store according to Mintel research, with 57% of respondents shopping there in the last year. The retailer sees this service as a way to drive loyalty and offer added value to its customers, while reinforcing its mission to “help people get, stay and live well,” given that pets are valued members of many families. Although the offering is being met with scrutiny from some organizations like the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association, Shotvet assures the public that they examine every animal extensively before any action is taken. Further, consumers are responding very positively to the program as well.

While drug stores are losing some sales to other channels, particularly as mass merchandisers often offer lower prices on the same items carried at drug stores, and have been aggressive in competing in the pharmacy department. As a result, drug stores need to provide more enhanced services and superior customer service in an effort to compete.

Marketers can tap into the emotional needs of its shoppers by offering more services like pet care that not only provide value and convenience, but also build brand loyalty. Affordable product or service innovations that reduce the burdens of pet ownership while increasing the convenience, satisfaction or joys of it will have wide appeal.

Diana Smith is a Senior Retail and Apparel Analyst at Mintel. She brings a unique background and perspective having previously spent her career growing up in advertising agencies, specializing in media planning and strategy.