Walmart, Petco, and Chewy Invest in $9 Billion U.S. Pet Medication Market

Walmart, Petco, and Chewy Invest in $9 Billion U.S. Pet Medication Market

By mid-year, 2019 had already been quite a year in the pet medications market, with and Walmart entering the online prescription space and Petco teaming up with Express Scripts to add online pharmacy fulfillment to its wheelhouse of pet services offerings, and the activity shows no sign of slowing.

In the new report, Pet Medications in the U.S., 6th Edition, Packaged Facts estimates that the online channel accounted for 15% of pet medications sales in 2018, but that number is sure to swell in the coming years. On top of this, Walmart’s planned expansion of its brick-and-mortar pet market presence is bringing PetIQ vet clinics into as many as a thousand Walmart stores by 2023 and will in all likelihood also spur a prescription pet medications surge through its in-store pharmacies.

Walmart’s leap into the veterinary space is part of a larger trend, with Petco also building out its veterinary market presence. The pet specialty mega-retailer announced in August 2019 that it had essentially doubled the number of full-service, in-store clinics via the addition of three new regional veterinary partners—Global Veterinary Partners, VitalPet, and VetnCare—and is planning to expand the number of clinics provided by its existing partners—Thrive and the Pet Vet.

Traditional veterinary clinics are on an upswing as well, the overall upshot being increased access to pet medications for consumers and a heightened focus on pet health in general. At the same time, veterinarians—which wield unparalleled clout among pet owners when it comes to recommending pet medications—are avidly re-thinking their prescription medications strategy, with a growing number adding their own online pharmacies to help stave off the online competition. And with Chewy and Walmart—and likely soon also Amazon—jumping into the online prescription pet medications space, the competition is only going to get fiercer.

From a marketer perspective, developing innovative new products is a must, given that the lifespan of pet medications is limited by patent expirations. Patent expiration is not only a driving force in new product development, it also provides for a potentially robust generic drug market. To date, generics have played only a limited role in the pet medications space market, but the segment appears to be poised for heady growth by allowing pet owners to save money on pet medications just as they do on their own.

Packaged Facts’ Pet Medications in the U.S., 6th Edition examines these and other opportunities for growth in the pet medications market, with a primary focus on parasiticides including flea/tick and heartworm prevention, which are broken out at multiple levels including by product type, animal type, and prescribed vs. OTC.  Coverage also extends to market-shaping developments in areas including anxiety, pain management, cancer, cognitive dysfunction, and obesity/diabetes, with numerous images illustrating marketing and product trends. Overall, the pet medications future looks bright. With sales reaching $9 billion in 2018, up 8.5% from the previous year, the market is expected to handily surpass overall pet market growth for the foreseeable future, spurred by a continued intensive focus on pet wellness, ongoing advances in veterinary medicine, and online and brick-and-mortar expansion of pet medication and veterinary service availability and options.

Read more about the pet medications market in Pet Medications in the U.S., a completely updated sixth edition that covers:

  • historical and projected retail sales from 2014 through 2022;
  • competitive strategies of key players;
  • trends in new product development;
  • retail channel trends, with a particular focus on the online marketplace;
  • consumer purchasing trends and demographic, featuring exclusive data from Packaged Facts’ February/March and April 2019 Surveys of Pet Owners as well as Simmons consumer survey data.

-- by Shannon Brown, senior pet market analyst