Home-Grooming Tools for Dogs
As more consumers groom their pets at home, retailers should ensure that they remain knowledgeable about, and keep their stores stocked with, reliable products.
Whether it’s to cut costs or save time, many pet owners are turning to at-home grooming—tasking pet retailers with the responsibility of educating these DIY stylists on the best practices and helping them find the tools that best suit their needs.
The key factors retailers should look at when determining which grooming tools to carry include ease of ordering, price, effectiveness and packaging, says Sue Kemp, professional groomer and manager of Worldly Pets in Marblehead, Mass.
As superficial as it may seem, an important part of successfully checking those boxes is paying attention to how each item is marketed. An aisle that’s colorful, bright and fun naturally draws customers in.
Kemp points to one particular brand of small, soft slicker brushes for cats as a prime example of how make or break marketing can be. Despite the products’ proven effectiveness, “the packaging is such that I have to point them out to people… they have no header cards, just plastic bags. I have to actually put them in people’s hands for them to be noticed,” she explains.
That strategy, while successful at times, isn’t viable for most pet stores, especially during peak hours when multiple customers are looking for help.
Stamford, Conn.-based Conair produces full product lines that feature complementary designs to give grooming aisles a uniform look. Conair’s grooming tools feature attractive, eye-catching packaging and cover just about any tool a pet owner will need for home grooming, from start to finish.
No matter how appealing a certain product might make the aisles look, it’s meaningless if it doesn’t provide the desired results.
“Retailers should always assess the quality of the products on their shelves—great tools create long-lasting customer satisfaction, which brings people back time and time again,” says Kathryn Krajnak, supervisor of product marketing for Andis.
Of course, any reputable company already produces high-quality, effective products, so it’s important for manufacturers to innovate something that’ll give them an edge. For example, Margate, N.J.-based Groomers Helper’s Activet brushes are popular with professional groomers and show handlers because they are double-sided and color-coded according to coat type.
Although innovative products may sometimes come at higher price points, that in itself shouldn’t be a deterrent.
“Retailers should not necessarily be looking for a ‘quick sell,’” advises Eryka Hawkins, marketing manager for Westmont, Ill.-based Clean Tools. “They need to look at high quality products that will add value to their customer’s lives, as well as outperform competitors.”
Hawkins explains that the Absorber is made of a sponge-like material designed to be easily squeezed out and dried quickly, soaking up 50 percent more water than a regular towel.
Safe and Sound
Not every dog is keen on grooming, meaning they might grow restless or anxious. While professional stylists know to keep safety in the foreground, pet owners may assume that their pet will acquiesce simply out of love.
“One of the first things a retailer needs to think of when marketing professional grooming equipment to the general retail public is safety,” advises Ed Berger, CEO of Groomers Helper.
The Groomers Helper is a system that safely controls and positions a dog for grooming in a way that’s helpful to less experienced owners and/or groomers, allowing the dog to stay in place without being mishandled.
No matter how many precautions a pet owner takes when they’re grooming at home, accidents are going to happen. Common mistakes include nails that were trimmed too short and sensitive skin that becomes irritated or even cut.
F.C. Sturtevant, of Bronxville, N.Y., manufactures an antiseptic powder that soothes irritation and stops bleeding on both nails and skin.
“It is not uncommon for a pet to feel itchy after a bath,” explains Steve Rosenfeld, the company’s CEO. “Sometimes there can be a reaction to a chemical in the shampoo or some sensitivity to a detergent used to wash the towels.”
Patting the pet down with some of the all natural antiseptic powder promotes healing, and can even be used as an additional flea deterrent.
To solve the problem of the anxious dog who needs a diversion, Aquapaw created the Slow Treater, which sticks to any flat surface and features rubber nubs that owners can spread their dog’s favorite treat on to distract them.
With so many options out there, pet owners are going to rely on their favorite retailers to help them pick out the grooming tools that’ll fit their pet’s individual needs. While it may seem like consumers want the best tools at reasonable prices, they’ll actually be happiest with products that have a higher quality and are more likely to solve any problems they may have—even before they know they’re problems.
Carmen Slaven, pet product marketing manager for Conair, suggests using store events and educational workshops to engage customers and accent safety.
Retailers can even take that seminar format a step further to showcase and demonstrate individual items.
Berger suggests setting up a Groomers Helper display and conducting a class on how owners can properly use the company’s products.
Part of Andis’ mission is to provide a wealth of information from experts, delivering answers to common grooming questions through an FAQ on its website and how-to videos on YouTube and Vimeo.
Daniel Lentz, founder of Aquapaw, simply suggests learning through first-hand experience: retailers should try products out for themselves before stocking them.
“Price point, margin, packaging etc. are considerations that you have to keep in mind, but they’re all short term considerations that change constantly,” he explains. “If you keep the idea that your purpose is to solve your customer’s problems, you will succeed in the long term.” PB