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Market fragmentation

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FRAGMENTATION occurs when new segments emerge within a previously homogenous market. These segments will have their own distinct needs and preferences. Fragmentation can open up new opportunities; the downside is that brand loyalty can be eroded.

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The break-out group considering this issue was sure that consolidation from corporate practices and buying groups would continue, but did not feel this should be the main focus for practices when considering competition in the market. There was a real opportunity for practices to fragment into different segments under their one roof: they could be the ‘one-stop shop’ for pet owners, offering, for example, dog grooming on the premises, by inviting other service providers to supply these services or even employing them as part of the practice team. Many vets do not see themselves as retailers, but one participant suggested that they were sometimes unduly nervous about doing this: ‘People want to be told what is the right stuff for their dog. It's us that think we're pushing stuff’. Another pointed out that ‘The message you give to clients has got to be genuinely altruistic; that's what makes the profession successful . . . most vets in general are wanting to help the pet under their care and that's what consumers respond to.’

Convenience was what consumers were looking for, so, it was suggested, veterinary practices could embed themselves in their clients’ shopping habits if they could provide all the services their clients would need for their pet's healthcare and beyond.

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