We can highlight certain facts from these results:
- A surprisingly large number of transactions (76%) are of relatively small monetary value (50€ or less), so they are highly unlikely to trigger any major financial conflict with pet owners. Most of these transactions are probably routine in nature, with low communication complexity, and can be managed by any appropriately trained member of staff.
- At the other extreme, an invoice of 200€ or more represents less than 2% of the total number of transactions; however, their economic relevance for the business is important, since they account for 20% of overall revenue. Therefore, it would seem reasonable to approach these transactions more carefully, with a structured message and ideally with the direct involvement of a veterinarian equipped with good communication skills.
- The relative proportions of these categories will change depending on the particular segment of the veterinary market. Major referral hospitals will certainly have a much higher number of larger value transactions, and their staff will need to be better equipped with the necessary communication skills and techniques to handle the ensuing economic conversations with clients.
Case study #2: “Understanding the psychology of veterinary service pricing: why pet owners don’t always prefer it cheaper”
Understanding how consumers evaluate prices has always been an important challenge for marketing experts. It is hard to use traditional techniques such as surveys to find out if a certain price is seen as low, high, or fair, since many people will tend to answer these questions strategically (i.e., rather than telling the truth, they will answer in a way that they believe is more beneficial for them). The Dutch economist Peter Van Westendorp became famous for developing a technique known as Price Sensitivity Meter (PSM) that overcomes this problem. The technique works by first exposing the consumer to a detailed description of the product or service which is being evaluated, for instance:
“Canine pentavalent vaccination: this involves administration of multiple vaccines to your dog by a licensed veterinarian; this will protect it against five common canine diseases (distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, parvovirus, and leptospirosis). Before the vaccine is administered, a full physical examination will be carried out on your dog to confirm that it can be vaccinated without risk to its health”.
A series of four questions is then asked:
- What would be a price so low for this service that you would reject it because you would be concerned about its quality?
- What would be a price low enough for this service that you would consider to be attractive and a good deal?
- What would be a price for this service that you would consider to be expensive but which you would still see as acceptable if your perception of quality and trust towards the service provider was good enough?
- What would be a price for this service that was so high that you would consider it to be ridiculous, and therefore not even contemplate accepting it?
Figure 3 shows the actual results obtained when VMS applied this technique with 2,000 Spanish pet owners in 2021. When the findings were compared with the actual vaccine prices being charged by 600+ Spanish veterinary practices (Figure 4) it became evident that almost 25% of these practices were charging a price that owners regarded as suspiciously low! (Figure 5).