See Spot Go
Retailers can boost sales in the stain and odor category by offering a variety of solution-oriented products.
Puppies and kittens are prone to leaving messes around the house during training, but even the best-trained pet can have an accident. For those incidents, pet specialty retailers may only choose to offer a limited selection of dual-action stain- and odor-cleaning products for pet parents in emergency mode. However, the recession has changed the consumer’s approach to cleaning, propelling manufacturers in the category to diversify product offerings—retailers should consider doing the same.
“The consumer has a different mindset on how they clean,” says Dennis Seaman, vice president of sales and marketing at SeaYu Enterprises. “The days of taking four to five hours on a Saturday to clean the entire house are gone. The consumer has moved to an as-needed basis for cleaning.”
Manufacturers also have to contend with consumers’ lack of understanding about how to get rid of stains and odors. “Most consumers don’t look for specialty products until they can’t get rid of the odor,” says Dennis Sheirs, vice president of chemicals at Fizzion. “They tend to go for the regular carpet-cleaning products.”
Competition from mass retailers is another hurdle, especially for specialty retailers looking to add or expand the category in their stores. Alyssa Mazur, communication manager at Lambert Kay, however, says pet specialty retailers stand to benefit greatly by building a strong assortment of these products. “[Retailers] can carve out a niche in the category by offering unique, effective products not found in mass at competitive price points,” Mazur says.
Seaman agrees that by offering effective products, specialty retailers will have an edge on the competition. “Consumers are willing to spend for stain and odor [products] in the pet specialty channel, but the products have to really work and the value proposition for the customer has to be good,” he says.
Not Only For Carpets
Luckily for retailers, manufacturers of pet stain and odor products continue to diversify product lineups. Products infused with oxygenation and enzyme technology for carpets remain popular. Mazur says the ingredients in these products, for example the bubbling effect of oxygenation, help gain consumer attention. “In the past few years, the focus seems to be on specific surface products—for wood floors, for countertops, etc. However, pet specialty retailers often have limited shelf space, so they continue to purchase and carry multi-use products as their household product offering foundation,” Mazur says.
According to Seaman, the category’s recent focus on specific surface- or solution-oriented products is an important one and can be attributed to trends in interior design. “You have to look at what’s going on in home decorating or interior design,” he says. As wood floors for the entire home become an increasingly popular trend, new challenges arise for pet owners dealing with accidents. “The challenge [for manufacturers becomes developing] a product that’s safe to use on a wood floor, and that’s not going to dry it out, crack it or discolor it,” Seaman says.
SeaYu Enterprises has designed its Clean+Green line of natural pet stain and odor removers to work on a variety of surfaces. The line is made with natural ingredients, including cane-sugar derivatives, botanical extracts, hydrated cellulose and purified water. The line features products for stains on carpets and upholstery, wood and tile, furniture, and concrete and grout.
Tropiclean has also responded to the solution-oriented trend. Its line of Fresh Breeze Stain & Odor Removers utilizes a dual-phase bio-enzymatic process to attack and destroy the odor. The line features the 2X Carpet and All Floors formula designed for carpet, upholstery, vinyl, laminate, concrete, hard wood and ceramic tile. Tropiclean also offers a Hard Surface Floors non-slip formula.
The Knack for Natural
Manufacturers of stain- and odor-cleaning products note that natural ingredients are becoming increasingly important to consumers. “Enzymes and other natural ingredients have become more desired by the pet owner, and natural ingredients have been made more effective,” says Joe Zuccarello, national accounts manager at Tropiclean.
Sheirs says non-toxic or neutral ingredients are a big selling point for stain and odor products because pets may go back to the spot and lick the cleaner or walk through it while it’s still wet. “We’re seeing more neutral cleaners on the market, where typically a lot of urine cleaners or protein stain cleaners tend to be more acidic,” he says.
As more consumers demand that companies be transparent about their products’ ingredients and expect products to be safer for their pets, Seaman believes the natural trend shows no signs of slowing. “Ten years ago it was nice to be natural, five years from now it’s going to be expected,” he says.
Retailers looking to capitalize on current trends in the stain and odor category or to boost sales must be educated on how the products work. “Educating consumers on new products is the only method that works well,” says Sheirs.
There are many ways for retailers to educate themselves and consumers. Learning how the product works through the manufacturer, using in-store training or the company’s website, is essential. “Retailers need to work closely with manufacturers,” Seaman says. “It’s all about integrating the experience for the consumer.”
Retailers can utilize marketing materials like rebate offers, shelf talkers and signs provided by manufacturers to educate consumers. Some companies, like Tropiclean, are directly informing consumers how to use their products by placing QR codes with links to videos on the product’s packaging.
Brand blocking is also another way to educate consumers. “[Retailers can] build customer confidence by brand blocking and offering a number of solutions within a specific brand to tailor to the customer’s specific needs,” says Zuccarello.
Mazur suggests retailers test and recommend products they believe in. One way to do so is through demonstrations. “Something as simple as a ‘before and after’ sign, a ‘try me’ demonstration or holding special events that promote category offerings with limited-time promotions can help hook customers on products to become repeat trips,” Mazur says.
Making stain and odor products easy to find for potential customers is key for any retailer—regardless of available shelf space, store footprint and physical merchandising restrictions. “Smaller pet specialty retailers can use their flexibility to their advantage by moving and rotating product within the store around seasons or promotions,” she says.