Apr
30
2008

Almost 90 percent of consumers are convinced the economy is in a recession, according to a recent survey conducted by Reuters and the University of Michigan.

Last week consumer confidence tumbled to its lowest point in 26 years.

The veterinary profession hasn’t been as vulnerable as other segments of the market in past economic downturns (see “name of article” in this month’s NEWStat). Even so, now is the time for practice owners and managers to be asking the right questions to survive and prosper during the uncertain months ahead, according to J. Walker Smith, president of Yankelovich, Inc., a market research firm.

“The prevailing atmosphere of apprehension and anxiety affects consumers, who are reacting to this fear – but not necessarily in the ways one might expect,” Walker Smith reports in the Yankelovich Monitor Minute weekly 3-newsletter.

“This is where getting the question right is important for your business.” 

Consumers tighten their belts in stages. Convenience items are the first to go and spending on necessities is often postponed, Walker says. But quality and service continue to be a priority, he adds.

He says businesses make a mistake of focusing too much on promoting price cuts and cost savings, which only increases customer anxiety.

Instead, he encourages service companies to build value around the things consumers are willing to buy.

Surveys conducted by AAHA and other organizations over the past 10 years show that that pet owners continue to spend on their animals’ healthcare during economic downturns.

The question veterinarians should ask, suggests Walker Smith, is “How can I provide even more value to my clients and their pets?”

 
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