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The break-out group discussing market fragmentation also considered the issue around growing the market. Pet ownership, it was argued, had plateaued out. Competitive rivalry was not an issue currently and they did not see that this would be the case in the immediate future as there was enough work to go round. However, the veterinary market could be an even more attractive area if it grew, and that, along with improving the health of the nation's pets, should be a reason for the veterinary business sector to collaborate to drive more pet owners to seek the services of a vet.
‘The real threat is the challenge to dog ownership, press report after press report of another tragedy . . . we have to collaborate to [promote] the joy of pet ownership,’ said one participant. Owners needed to be educated about what was good care for their pet, and the vet was the best person to do this. However, the point was made that owners and prospective owners might not turn to vets for advice and that it should not be the vet alone who encouraged this engagement. The whole sector would benefit from more people being responsible pet owners so the sector should collaborate to bring this about.
Who would run such a scheme was not obvious, as currently there was no one umbrella organisation that represented all the businesses involved in the veterinary sector. Funding would need to be substantial to be able to achieve a significant change in pet owners’ habits, and there was some discussion around this. Clearly, there were a lot of issues to resolve but there seemed to be a consensus in the room that a collaborative approach to promote responsible pet ownership would be helpful.
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