Clean-Up Crew

Retailers and grooming salons can both benefit from having a well-rounded assortment of shampoos and conditioners to meet a variety of pet needs.


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While shampoos and conditioners are clearly a must-have for groomers, they are also strong sellers in pet specialty retail. However, one way to be sure you are getting the most return on the shelf space devoted to these products is to make sure they are delivering what the customer wants.

Surely, consumer demand will vary from store to store due to differences in demographics—bubbly paw baths and mud packs will probably not be big sellers in rural areas, and bare-bones generic packaging may not be ideal in Beverly Hills, Calif., but there are some common denominators in what pet owners are seeking. Pet owners want their pets to smell good. They want their pets to be clean and feel clean to the touch. They want their pets to shed and mat less, and they want bathing to be safe and easy to do.

Although the majority of shampoos have a pleasant scent, some last longer than others. Fragrance does carry a risk of irritation for sensitive pets, but products with ample fragrance can leave behind a long-lasting scent. Lambert Kay’s Fresh & Clean Shampoo is a good example of a shampoo with long-lasting scent. The company also offers a companion cologne with the same scent to give it even more of a boost—an excellent add-on sale.

Cloudstar is another company striving to meet customers’ many demands. Ryan Tarver, marketing director for Cloudstar, says customers seek safe products that rinse out easily while offering a rich lather. Pet owners are also drawn to natural ingredients, such as aloe vera that are soothing, non-abrasive and unlikely to cause any reaction. Made in the USA is a good selling point, as well, Tarver adds.

Any retailer that also provides grooming services knows that customers ask for retail sizes of the products their stylist used on the pet. Cloudstar offers its popular Lavender & Mint Shampoo in a gallon size for groomers and retail sizes. The Lavender & Mint Buddy Splash Dog Spritzer is sold in both a four- and a 16-ounce size, for a lasting fresh scent between groomings. Tarver uses it on his two Border Collie/Lab crosses, especially before company comes over. “I just spritz them and scruff it up with my hands; the scent lasts and keeps their coats soft for quite a while,” he says.

Although the Buddy Spritzer can also be used as a conditioner/detangler, it has more than sufficient scent to function as cologne. The coconut-based, alcohol-free Buddy Wash is available in Lavender & Mint, Rosemary & Mint, and Green Tea & Bergamot. The company also offers a conditioner in Lavender & Mint, and the Buddy Splash Dog Spritzers in all three scents. Groomers and retailers alike appreciate the line for its consistency, lather, fragrances, clean rinse and price. Diane True, groomer/retailer at Worldly Pets in Marblehead, Mass., says Buddy Wash is a great all around shampoo line for general cleaning.

Many pet owners are looking for solution-oriented products, as well as options that leave pets smelling great. SynergyLabs’ product portfolio includes shampoo lines that address all those needs. The company’s SHED-X shampoo and conditioner sells well, along with the companion SHED-X Dermaplex Shed Control Nutritional Supplement for Dogs.

The SynergyLabs Richard’s Organics line includes shampoos and conditioners sure to appeal to customers looking for natural ingredients such as Richard’s Organics Moisturizing Shampoo with Oatmeal, Echinacea & Sweet Almond Oil. The Veterinary Formula line offers sizes to suit both groomers and retail customers. The company’s Groomer’s Salon Select line has new attractive packaging as well.

Another aspect to consider when stocking shampoos and conditioners for retail sale is ordering. Brian Collier, marketing and public relations coordinator at TropiClean, suggests thinking seasonally. For instance, during the winter, fixes for dry skin and itchiness are at a premium.  Shampoo, conditioner, between-bath sprays and wipes offer a comforting array of weapons for the consumer to use in helping their pet’s problem—and they make an eye-catching display.

But products that sell well in the middle of winter won’t necessarily be what customers look for during spring. “Look at purchases for 30 to 45 days in advance,” says Collier. “Be aware of the seasons. Now is the time to be thinking about flea and tick products.”

TropiClean offers Neem shampoo for flea relief. It contains a natural tree oil that has a soothing effect on bites, but will also kill ticks and fleas on the pet, according to Collier. It works as a natural insecticide and repellent, but has no residual effect that will continue to kill fleas after it is rinsed. Neem shampoo, like all of TropiClean’s shampoos, is soap free—which means it will not remove topically applied flea and tick treatments. All of TropiClean’s shampoos and conditioners are available in both wholesale and retail sizes.

Collier recommends that retailers train associates to allow customers to smell products, since scent is often a driving force behind the purchase decision. TropiClean products feature botanical ingredients that not only refresh coats but that also leave behind pleasant fragrance.

Trina Bicknell, vice president of sales at PetEdge, Inc., suggests that in addition to stocking shampoos that solve problems year round—dry skin, hot spots, fleas, itching, shedding, etc.—retailers should also make seasonal adjustments, like offering fresh, citrus scents in the spring and summer, and warmer and sugar cookie scents in the winter. And don’t neglect add-on sales as a great source of extra revenue. Towels, dryers and rubber brushes for use on shorter coated dogs in the tub, flea combs, after bath sprays and colognes are all products that answer clients’ needs around bathing pets.

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