A few weeks ago an email recommended I listen to a couple of Freakonomics podcasts about the veterinary industry: Should You Trust Private Equity to Take Care of Your Dog and Do You Know Who Owns Your Vet. I used to listen to Freakonomics Radio show on public radio, so I checked them both out, and I highly recommend you do as well (or you can read the transcripts).
One takeaway I got? Private equity firms now own 25% of vet clinics and 75% of emergency vet clinics in America. These acquisitions account for 40-50% 0f all veterinary visits. With 70% of American households owning at least one pet, and people willing to spend more money on their pets, this is yet another industry being used to make money, which means you and I will pay more for veterinary care, pet products, and so forth.
Next up, a Twitter post I made this past weekend about how my cats don’t want to eat Purina Fancy Feast chicken pate anymore. Apparently I’m not the only one, because quite a few cat people responded, enough to where Purina had to bypass their bot response and actually have a person talk to me via direct message.
What did they say? They’ve changed their products. For the better.
I don’t get why this wasn’t publicized more. Sure, I might not have heard about it, but so many of us?. The food my cats wouldn’t eat was purchased at Walmart. My Chewy order arrived Saturday and that pate looked different. It was more moist, and my cats ate it up.
So was the other counterfeit cat food? Old stock? I don’t know, but no more buying cat food at Walmart (or Amazon); from now on I’ll have to stay on top of my Chewy orders. Purina, you fucked up with this one, but reaching out to me with a human that actually knew what they were talking about made me decide to hang with you. Well, that and I have no desire to hunt for another food everyone will eat and I can afford.
And, last but not least, I want to talk about Inaba’s Churu treats. Again. But from a marketing standpoint.
I’m totally sold on Churu, and so are a lot of other pet people. The lickable treats are high-moisture, grain-free, and delicious! So much so I only have to walk near where I store them to have cats stampeding toward me. So much so I have community cats at my back door each night waiting for treats. They’re manufactured in Thailand. That bother you? Don’t buy them.
What I like about Churu is the care they’ve taken to sell this product to us humans. The treats can be neatly stored in a jar like the one in the photo. Those bag-o-treats we’ve been buying for years weren’t easy to store, were they? And not necessarily easy to open either (unless you’re a cat, that is).
The Churu packaging is easy-tear but on one side only. There isn’t a lot of treat left over inside the tube that makes me want to grab some scissors and a spatula. And though they’ve tried, my cats have not been able to breach the packaging.
No animated cats having parties or doing other ridiculous things cats don’t do. No word salad marketing hype to get me to buy something I’ll regret. There are photos of actual cats on the label who look like mine do at treat time.
After years of being marketed to as though I’m a child or a ‘Crazy Cat Lady’, a company gets me. They don’t assume I’m a creepy hoarder posing as a rescuer. Or a sadistic con artist who “cross-posts” photos of animals scheduled to be euthanized in animal sheleters to get others to send me money. They don’t assume I’m using animals to get attention for myself.
No, I’m awesome just the way I am and I feel Inaba respects me for that. I’d buy Inaba treats anyway, but this is what has made me a customer for life. They are one of the few companies I don’t feel is out to take advantage of me. If that’s not true, they sure fooled me.
If only more American businesses would hire Inaba’s marketing firm.
16 thoughts on “More of us Have Pets. The Business World Noticed.”
This is hard to believe but my fussiest cat, who has issues with a lot of cat food, does not like Churu treats. She will eat Fancy Feast grilled chicken sometimes but her absolute favorite food is rotisserie chicken. She had a major dental a few months back. She had 11 extractions so I expect she had teeth pain and wasn’t eating well. Unfortunately in my eagerness to get her to eat something afterward I introduced her to rotisserie chicken and now she’s a big fan. FF sometimes but RC anytime! I’ve created a monster. Thanks for this information.
Long as she’s getting the nutrients she needs, cool beans. My cats love tuna. If I have tuna, I better at least save the water it’s packed in. No packets for me!
Tuna water is a big hit in this house!
I heard that program too, and I’m afraid what we’ll see as shareholders and board members dictate what veterinarians can offer and how far they can go with care bef0re it dings into the overlords’ payout. This is how businesses die. I’m just hoping enough smaller ones stay around to be able to work with them.
I’ve been in marketing all my working life. I ignore it all. But glad Purina talked to you!
Awesome! As a neurodivergent I am fascinated with marketing and its impact. It’s also when I get so frustrated when companies assume a little freebie will shut me up.
The veterinary industry is out to make money in this country as well. And the pet insurance industry is getting a bad name for avoiding paying.
Yes, I read Mars, the privately-held company of candy fame , owns a large stake in the pet industry, including vet clinics in your country. And they also sell pet food.
Unfortunately private equity firms and hedge fund accounts a fair amount of business across the boards.
As an example, they are single handedly destroying the newspaper biz too.
I didn’t realize how entrenched they are and how little oversight there is. It is infuriating.
You’ll find no greedier, more craven a group than hedge funders. They must live under every rock on Planet Earth.
My cats have booked their tickets and will be with you shortly/ they have asked politely if they can bring their fussy britches pig with them. He wants treats too!
As my vet says, at a certain point, what’s one more?
Ha ha!! Yes indeed. Exactly how I feel about pigs!
I love Churus too! I posted about FF changing their formulas to make them healthier last fall. I read about it in The Truth About Pet Food newsletter and blog. It’s also been on their home page for awhile. It’s a shame the sites that sell FF didn’t deem it important enough to mention.
And, yes, hedge funds are taking over everything; they’re even buying sports’ teams. My former vet clinic was bought by Mars as I suspect all VCA hospitals were.
Yes they were. Mars is the biggest player in the takeover game right now. They also own Banfield, BluePearl, Camp BowWow, Wisdom Panel, and pet food brands Royal Canin, Pedigree, Whiskas, Greenies, Sheba, and new acquisition Orijen (as well as many others).
It’s all about the money. Big business targeting pet owners for wats to get us to part with our hard earned cash, because we’re good, caring pet owners right? I’m just being mindful if what I buy and why, it’s the best I can do.