Be bold and innovate to keep ahead... - Veterinary Practice
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Be bold and innovate to keep ahead…

Simon Boulton of Virbac reports on what his company is doing with technology to improve communications between practices and clients, including the use of “augmented reality”.

, the
growing influence of technology on all
aspects of our lives may be obvious –
and not always welcome.

Yet the opportunities offered
by some emerging technologies to
veterinary practices are real as we have
been finding in our work over the last
12 months with a new visual marketing technology

faced by
from both
and new non-veterinary rivals have
never been as fierce. The RCVS Facts
report cites a 12.3% increase in
veterinary premises since 2010 and,
with new business models emerging,
competition is set to remain a fact of

For a practice to thrive in this
environment, in addition to attracting
new clients it must keep its existing
clients loyal and compliant – and it
must ensure that they buy the products
they need to keep their pets healthy
from them, rather than allowing
revenue to drift away and be spent

Effective communication lies at the heart of this battle – so
anything practices can do to enhance
communications and help them to
build a stronger, more engaging
relationship with their clients is vital to
help them win.

Of course, in examining how they
can improve their communications,
practices must contend with the
fact that, these days, an increasing number of
us are “digital
More than
quarters of all
now have
at least
one smart
phone and ownership of tablets is growing fast.
Our use of technology affects how we consume products and services
and the way we interact with retailers
and brands. These days, we are much
more likely to search for information
and make purchasing decisions online
rather than reading a brochure or
making a phone call.

A recent report from Deloitte said
that digital technology is influencing
33% of in-store retail sales in the UK
– almost £100 billion in 2014. The
implications – and the opportunity –
for veterinary sector sales are obvious.

Keen to help our customers build
client loyalty and compliance, we have been working on a project at Virbac to harness a new
technology called Augmented
Reality (AR) since 2014.

To give it its official
definition, AR is a “live direct
or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment
whose elements are
augmented (or supplemented)
by computer generated
sensory input, such as sound,
video, graphics or GPS data”.

In effect, AR has the effect
of bringing a at image “to
life”, offering an exciting
and engaging new way of
communicating with an
audience – in this case, pet

Virbac has been working
with an AR company
called Blippar to develop
“augmented packaging” for a
number of our key products.

Packaging is important
because the information
it contains is a crucial link
between the practice and the
client and key to ensuring
compliance. Yet, all too often,
owners don’t bother to read
it and just throw it away. We
felt that adding AR would be
an opportunity to transform
the role of packaging and to
help practices to engage with
owners in a whole new way.

More than a year on,
we have introduced AR
packaging on a range of
products, including our
prescription-only spot-on
ectoparasiticide Prinovox,
the UK’s no 1 veterinary
household spray Indorex* and
our broad spectrum wormer

Simply by downloading the
free Blippar app onto their
smart device and scanning
the image on the packaging – or in the case of Indorex, scanning
the can or the top of the can – owners
can then watch as the pack becomes
animated, giving them access to an
array of post-dispensing information
which (unlike much information
online) is regulated and accurate and
presented in an engaging format.

packaging, for
instance, offers:

  • videos
    on the most
    affecting their
  • “how to apply” videos
    showing how
    to use and store the product;
  • a text reminder system branded
    with the practice’s name to encourage
  • a fun game; and
  • a digital data sheet.

With all of our blippable products,
we offer dispensing envelopes and
waiting room displays which can
be blipped in order to carry the
technology right through our support
materials and offer interaction in
waiting rooms.

We are also using AR technology
to give our customers access
to a unique resource of clinical
and support information via our
interactive communications portal,
“Virtual Virbac”. By blipping on the
specially created Virbac swirl image,
which features across a range of our
promotional materials, they can stay
up to date with the latest product
information, videos and compliance advice.

We update Virtual
Virbac regularly as we launch
new products and it can also
be used to contact us directly
with requests for further

Feedback from many of
our customers confirms
they are finding that the AR
packaging is proving helpful
in boosting owner education
and compliance; in increasing
product use through this
increased compliance; and,
importantly, in positioning
them as a forward-thinking
practice which is adopting
technologies also used by
major brands, including
Heinz (try blipping a bottle
of ketchup!), Argos and
Pizza Hut. They are also finding Virtual Virbac a
useful resource.

As technology continues
to develop at a rapid rate, we
will also continue to invest in solutions with the potential to help
practices win the communications war
or support their business effectively in
other ways.

Our advice to practices is to be bold
and to be prepared to innovate to stay
ahead of the competition. There is still
a role for printed materials, of course, but your
clients are
what this really
means and
how you can
interact with
them most
effectively going forward is critical to keeping
them loyal and spending with you. AR
is one solution – there will soon be
more. Welcome to the future!

*GFK MAT DATA September 2015
(veterinary channel sales).

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