Pet Insight spoke with Phil Brown, a veterinary consultant for Nutri-Vet pet supplements, to get his input on how Nutri-Vet works with independent retailers and on the future of the supplements category.
Pet Insight: Does Nutri-Vet have any particular regions of strength?
Phil Brown: Not really. After being around so long, the areas that are strongest are those most acceptant of natural products. California, the Northwest, Florida. The Midwest is coming around. People are looking for alternatives to drugs.
PI: What new types of items, if any, will you begin producing this year?
PB: We’ve expanded our joint line to products seeming to be causing results a little more rapidly than other products. That’s what customers want, and that’s the difficulty with other supplements – it’s not like aspirin that works immediately. But we’ve added some new ingredients that help provide quicker results.
PI: What promotional, educational or social outreach does Nutri-Vet do to support independent partners?
PB: A lot of the relationship is education. We try and train our sales force to understand components of products. With every product that we launch, we put out ingredient listings, and define what the ingredients do. We make retailers more comfortable with why we formulate a product instead of saying, “Here’s out product, trust us.” I think any consumer is more comfortable if they see what is in a product.
There’s mailings, sales people are trained to answer questions, we provide complete product information sheets. Any time retailer has a question, they can call the office and if it’s a technical question they talk to me. We don’t do a lot of advertising. We do a lot in social media – we have a woman that answers questions on a regular basis.
PI: Where do you see the supplements industry going in the next 5 years?
PB: I think it’s just going to get bigger. We’ve seen rapid growth – our company has grown about 20% a year. What’s developing is condition-specific (treatments). Instead of recommending a multivitamin, a retailer will talk to an owner, and they’ll recommend a product that has a specific formulation to that animal. It’s more specific to animal’s needs rather than the shotgun approach, and with that we see increased success. As more products, they’ll compete with drugs. I don’t like to give my animal drugs, and if there’s a natural alternative, I’ll use it.
I think it’s about a 2 billion dollar industry now. The whole pet industry is heading towards 60 billion. So 2 billion of little tiny tablets that you give two times a day, that’s not too shabby. So there’s a lot of growth, and a lot coming, I think, as we understand the specificity of supplements.