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the new vet

27 January 2011

MW’s found a new vet.

She called around and received several recommendations for a vet whom I suspect is the most expensive in town. That’s a little unfortunate, isn’t it? She swallowed, made an appointment and took Luna over for “First Checkup – Take Two.”

When I saw her (MW) after the visit, she was overwhelmed with happiness. It was as if she had shared a dinner with Jane Austen, Bill Clinton and Martha Stewart at Martha’s house, with Jacques Torres contributing dessert. Apparently, the good vet (TGV) treated Luna with the dignity and respect that MW expected, and which the first vet had completely failed to demonstrate.

MW happily noted that TGV didn’t say anything as obvious as the “your puppy is going to get really big” fill-the-silence comment the first vet had made. “Duh,” as OD will softly growl whenever she tries to scare us into believing she’s becoming one of those affected tweens The Disney Channel populates so many of its sitcoms with.

puppy food

the foundation of a $2B company

Although I didn’t tag along, the TGV visit showed me just how much money there is to be made in the pet industry. MW returned with a veritable Halloween harvest. Instead of candies and chocolates, her haul included toys, medication samples and a 1kg. bag of Hill’s Science Diet food for large breeds. The packaging humbly states that it is “U.S. Veterinarians’ #1 Choice to Feed Their Own Pets.”

In case you’re thinking of entering the pet food business yourself and might want to use the same slogan after your sales have grown a little, you can’t. Hill’s Pet Nutrition somehow convinced the US Patent and Trademark Office that what strikes me as little more than an unsubstantiated marketing claim was actually worthy of a trademark.

The lucrative opportunity that is feeding America’s dog population is very real. I confirmed it by visiting hillspet.com. They’re certainly not hiding the fact in the fine print of an annual report, that’s for sure! “Hill’s Pet Nutrition is a $2.2 billion global subsidiary of the Colgate-Palmolive Company” trumpets the career opportunities page.

Maybe vets really like the product? Maybe Hill’s just pays them off? I have no idea. All I know is that the lifetime value of a repeat customer must be sufficient to fund a pretty expensive product trial program.

I think MW’s real weakness might be falling for pet industry marketing.

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