Adding Up the Benefits
Retailers can gain from keeping up with innovations in dog supplements and remedies, which include on-trend ingredients, easy delivery systems and more features.
Dog owners who shop for supplements and remedies are seeking products that do more than ever for their furry loved ones, and manufacturers are responding with products that are more effective, offer more nutrition and help ease more afflictions. Retailers that merchandise these products effectively can thrive in this important category. That begins with making sure they stick with products that are not only effective, but also safe.
“We are finding that consumers are looking for products with transparency—all active and inactive ingredients listed and clear statements of what is or isn’t in them,” says Derek J. Archambault, director of marketing, pet and retail for FoodScience Corporation in Williston, Vt. The company, whose brands include PetNaturals of Vermont, conducted consumer research that indicated 90 percent of consumers would prefer to try a supplement than traditional medicine first, but they need to know that the products are safe. They want to know about quality and ingredients, including allergens.
Consumers also want these products to be easy to buy. Often, they prefer to turn to pet stores rather than veterinarians to make their supplement purchases. Understanding this demand, FoodScience has made a number of its Vetriscience products, which have traditionally been distributed through the veterinary channel, available to retailers.
“Pet owners trust their vets, but are looking for more convenient ways to get the products,” says Archambault.
FoodScience is also responding to consumer feedback for larger counts of its products by introducing new sizes. In addition, it has introduced new products designed for larger dogs. The larger chews deliver the same active ingredients as before, but dog owners only need to give their large-breed pups one or two chews instead of five or six.
Wellness on Display
When it comes to merchandising pet supplements, Archambault says retailers should display them separately from treats. “Some treats may look like supplements because they say something about hip and joint, for example, but those are treats with some added ingredients, usually not at a level to be efficacious,” he says.
Others maintain that retailers should merchandise supplements and foods together. “Supplements are designed to be fed with the foods that our pets are consuming,” says Chad J. Tillman, national sales manager for Grizzly Pet Products, based in Woodinville, Wash.
The Grizzly sales team works with stores to develop sales programs that pair the company’s supplements with its foods to inspire trial. For example, consumers can get a small, $5 bottle of Grizzly Wild Alaskan Pollock Oil with the purchase of a Grizzly Ultra-Premium Alaskan Wild Salmon food.
“They go home, and a week later the skin and coat look amazing on the dog, so they buy larger sizes of those products,” says Tillman.
One of the newest products is Grizzly Joint Aid. Tillman says the hip and joint category is very developed, so the company focused on the absorption of the active ingredients. “These ingredients are very difficult to absorb and are typically passed out as waste,” he says. “Our customers are seeing greater and faster results than ever.”
Grizzly Joint Aid contains glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and hyaluronic acid (HA) for joint care, and wild Antarctic krill oil to facilitate absorption. Grizzly Joint Aid is available in liquid and mini pellets.
While consumers who wanted to provide their dogs with supplements had to settle for pills or capsules in the past, now there are a variety of easier delivery systems available on the market, says Michele Rohrig, companion pet brand manager for Chesterfield, Mo.-based Manna Pro, parent of the Nutri-Vet brand. Nutri-Vet offers liquid products like Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil and liver-flavored Pre and Probiotics Soft Chews.
“Consumers want products that work, that are good for their pets and are palatable,” she says.
The brand’s newest line is Nutri-Vet Grain-Free Soft Biscuits, functional treats available in Hip & Joint, Skin & Coat and Pet-Ease. Rohrig says the products are made using premium ingredients including coconut, applesauce, chia seed, garbanzo bean, peanut butter, sweet potato and carob. They contain no wheat, soy or corn. Also, the products all have efficacious dose levels of the key active ingredients that are needed to address a particular health concern.
Hampshire, Ill.-based Pet-Ag is another company that is delivering new ways for pet owners to give supplements to their dogs. To this end, the company recently launched its Gel Nutritional Supplement line for dogs and cats. The dog selection includes High Calorie, Vitamin & Mineral, Hip & Joint, Skin & Coat and UT Solution. The owner can put some gel on the pet’s food or let the dog lick it off a spoon.
“We conducted some proprietary research that indicated that pet owners are highly interested in a gel over the other types of supplements out there, such as soft chews, liquid or powders,” says brand manager Alyssa Guertin. She adds that IRI data indicates that the category is growing, especially among the newer formats. “The new line offers a unique format for retailers looking to take advantage of this growing category with the trend toward easier-to-feed products.”
There is also demand for affordable products, Guertin says. By offering high-quality formulas at a reasonable price point, Pet-Ag makes it easier for consumers to come back to the store and buy the products over the long term.
In addition to easy delivery methods, Rohrig says pet owners are looking for products that are made in the USA and contain natural ingredients. “As consumers become more aware of what they’re putting in their own bodies, they are also becoming more aware of what they are giving their pets,” she says.
Certain ingredients, such as kelp, are proving particularly popular with consumers.
“Kelp is the most powerful superfood on the planet,” says Ken Wilks, director of marketing and sales at the pets division of W.F. Young, which launched Missing Link Pet Kelp formula supplements. “Kelp is everywhere. If you just look at what’s happening in the human natural foods space, there’s going to be a lot more.”
The supplements are available in Probiotic, Joint & Bone, Skin & Coat and Well-Being formulas. The superfood enabled the company to develop a limited ingredient formula, which Wilks says appeals to people who have dogs that are experiencing multiple allergy triggers. These dog owners can avoid these trigger ingredients, and the new supplement is loaded with vitamins and minerals.
Also new is Missing Link Once Daily Superfood Dental Chew, which Wilks says took the patented formula of Missing Link Original and embedded it into a dental chew. The chews contain essential fatty acids, dietary fiber and phytonutrients to support skin and coat, muscle and tendon function, immune system health, energy levels and overall wellness.
Wilks says retailers should display the Dental Chews separately from the other chews. “We are recommending they merchandise in the supplement section,” he says. “We feel there is an opportunity to have a lot more dogs on supplements. People don’t realize that supplements really can make a difference.”