All Natural Pet Pampering
When it comes to grooming products, today’s pet parents aren’t compromising quality nor natural ingredients—they want it all.
Modern pet parents don’t just want their furry friends to look good—they want to feel good about the products they’re using, too. That’s why natural ingredients trends in the pet industry have led to an increase in the variety of natural grooming products on shelves.
But it wasn’t always this way.
When Eric Bittman’s Boston Terrier, Maurice, developed skin allergies at six months old, none of the commercial products available could soothe his itchy, dry skin. Bittman took matters into his own hands and, with the help of Tony and Roby Cuccio of Cuccio Naturale, developed natural products to suit dogs like Maurice.
“We bought product after product that did not work, so we wanted to come out with a natural line with high-end ingredients,” says Bittman, CEO and president of Warren London, a New City, N.Y.-based manufacturer of natural dog spa and grooming products.
Today, natural products are all over pet shop shelves, from shampoos and skin moisturizers to nail polishes and colognes. But the meaning of the word natural can prove confusing for both pet owners and retailers.
“The term natural is not legally defined, so it can be used in different ways,” says Doug Gleason, founder of Los Angeles-based TrueBlue Pet Products. “While they may not have a precise definition, consumers do want products that are more natural. We think that means cleansers that are derived from natural ingredients instead of petroleum, naturally-derived food quality preservatives and no artificial colors or fragrances.”
When choosing the best natural pet grooming products, retailers should pay special attention to ingredients. If a manufacturer claims a product is natural, but doesn’t provide easy access to a list of what exactly goes into it, that’s a red flag, according to experts.
“Warren London believes in being transparent and that every pet parent has a right to know exactly what they are using on their dog,” says Bittman.
All of the ingredients for every Warren London product are available on the company’s website. Its Hydrating Butter skin and coat moisturizer for dogs, for example, uses ingredients like guava and mangostein designed to repair damaged skin and leave coats shiny and smooth. Its natural ingredients are meant to keep dogs smelling fresh with aromatherapy scents.
Selling Natural Solutions to Health Problems
Shiny coats and fluffy fur aren’t the only solutions manufacturers are offering these days. Taking a page out of the human beauty book, many companies now have natural health products in their lineup.
“The category is really morphing from just grooming into grooming and wellness,” says Gleason. “When we were working with vets on developing shampoo, we also started talking about key health issues for pets, like dental health and ear infections. And those conversations led us to develop our Dental Wipes and Ear Wipes.”
TrueBlue’s Super Easy Ear Wipes tackle one of the leading causes of vet visits—ear infections. The wipes allow pet parents to clean away dirt, wax and debris. The company’s Fast and Fresh Dental Swipes use peppermint, parsley and baking soda to help care for pets’ teeth and gums and eliminate bad breath.
Warren London also offers a variety of health-focused natural spa products, like its Paw Soak Tablets. These fizzy tablets are designed to fight bacteria, fungus and yeast that can build up in between toes and around paw pads, causing paw licking and discomfort. The formula uses white tea tree oil meant to provide a deep, thorough cleaning and sanitize pets’ paws.
No Compromises on Quality
For retailers, it’s especially important to ensure the products you’re stocking are effective. This allows you to present your employees as trustworthy and knowledgeable experts to customers.
“Consumers really want it all. They want all-natural products that perform just as well as any products available. They don’t want any trade-offs,” says Gleason. “We worked with veterinarians at a leading vet school of medicine to help us select the best natural ingredients—those that were both safe and effective—to create our formulas.”
TrueBlue’s pet shampoos, like its Natural Balance Conditioning Shampoo, are designed to clean fur or hair without stripping away beneficial oils from pets’ skin. With this shampoo, pet parents can bathe a pet as often as needed without worrying about flaky or itchy skin.
To ensure retailers only have the best natural grooming products on their shelves, Gleason recommends they actually try the products out for themselves.
“When retailers are considering bringing in TrueBlue, we urge them to try the products out on their own pets. We can say that our products are terrific, but the proof is in the pudding,” he says. “By using products on their own pets, retailers are also better prepared to answer the consumers’ questions.”
Bittman also emphasizes retailer and staff education.
“It is very important that the sales staff at the retail locations know about the products,” he says. “For example, if a customer asks the staff if they have a product that will help to eliminate paw licking, they should point to our Paw Fizz Tablet Paw Soaks. Educated sales staff will help to increase sales.”
Another key factor to consider when choosing stock is the brands themselves. Retailers should look at the companies producing the products to see what kind of partner they will be, explains Gleason.
“Here at TrueBlue, we strive to be a great partner by providing lots of support: effective POS materials, education to the retail team members and a very strong sampling program,” he says.
A Natural Approach to Merchandising
Once retailers have a variety of high-quality natural grooming products on the shelves, the next step to capitalizing on the category is merchandising.
There are a couple of different approaches retailers can take to displaying natural grooming products in their stores. One is to present all products from a single brand together on the shelf. This can produce a dynamic and visually impactful display, and it makes it easy for customers searching for a specific brand to quickly find what they’re looking for.
Or, retailers can break up brands and try putting similar items together—dental products in one area and ear care in another. Gleason recommends doing a little bit of both.
“For the products that consumers are less familiar with, like ear care products, we think putting them all together makes sense,” he says. “That way, a consumer who is going to buy and use an ear care product for the first time can see the options and compare different kinds of solutions. For familiar products like shampoo, it can make sense to merchandise those by brand.”
As the category continues to grow, retailers should strive to stay on top of the latest grooming trends to ensure they always have the best variety and quality of products to keep customers coming back.