Selling the Solution
The duty of cleaning up after pets is a labor of love, but consumers want cleaning formulas that will safely ease the burden of solving stain and odor issues.
While today’s consumers are known to spoil their animals in ways that previous generations reserved for their children, the task of eliminating stains and destroying odors remains one of the least enjoyable chores associated with owning a pet, even as the solutions to do so have become stronger, safer and more effective.
A secret to successfully selling stain and odor solutions is to attract consumers with products from companies that show a genuine understanding of these problems and have a commitment to the well being of the families that use their products. To achieve this, retailers must focus on finding trustworthy formulas that are tough on stains and odors but gentle on the home environment.
“A lot of brands out there have changed their formulas to save money or downgraded because of different reasons, such as companies changing hands or changing formulators,” says Pete Stirling, CEO of Irvine, Calif.-based Skout’s Honor. “Consumers are going to conduct their decision-making based on heightened awareness of animal behavior, their interaction with the space and safety of the stain and odor products.”
Stirling believes that these products should be tailored to address specific stain and odor issues caused by a pet’s behavior while adhering to the highest quality standards.
As informed pet parents learn more behind the reasons why pets soil specific areas within the home, these consumers also begin to recognize the stubborn nature of stains and odors. To address these issues, consumers are also seeking powerful formulas that can thoroughly clean dirty areas with ingredients that deter animals from repetitive behavior.
Once a pet soils an area within the home, they often return to the area, as their senses are able to identify these spaces as their marked territory. Despite pet parents’ successful efforts at removing visible stains, a marked, invisible area could remain.
“Consumers are more aware of animals’ ability to detect odors even after humans think the soiled area has been cleaned, which increases the chance of re-soiling,” explains Josh Wiesenfeld, CEO of Los Angeles-based Boxiecat LLC. “Consumers are looking to break that behavioral cycle.”
The science behind stain and odor products has evolved, as new advancements in manufacturing cleaning solutions have led to a demand for pet-specific items. Applying standard household cleaners to solve a pet-caused soiling issue is no longer sufficient, says Victor Phillpotts, vice president of business development for Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based Starbrite.
“Consumers are seeking dedicated products for specific tasks. Years ago, an all-purpose cleaner was the only option, but now pet parents want a product that is clearly formulated to eliminate pet stains and related odors,” explains Phillpotts. “Consumers also seek out products that are safe around their pets, made without caustic compounds and that won’t result in harmful residues.”
Relying on Retail
While the most important relationship a manufacturer can have is with the consumer, connections between brands and retailers are crucial to reaching pet parents. Just as retailers rely on manufacturers to create effective, safe products, brands rely on stores to provide a trusted, informed representation of their goods.
“We need to give our retailers the products and the power to come through on the promises that they made to their customers. If their customer shops in store, they are going to find better solutions than they would find at a big-box retailer,” explains Stirling. “If consumers can find the same solutions at every big-box store, it decreases the retailer’s competitive edge.”
To solve the soiling problems within a customer’s home, retailers should promote products that are specific to stain and odor issues caused by pets. From cleaning solutions geared toward dogs and cats to those that target furniture upholstery or laundry, retailers must listen carefully to the needs of their customers before making product suggestions.
“We can’t stress enough that consumer stain and odor purchases are typically driven by a specific, pressing issue,” says Wiesenfeld. “Retailers have one shot to recommend stain and odor products that are effective enough to exceed customer expectations, ultimately adding to the retailer’s reputation and future bottom line.”
The reciprocal relationship between manufacturers and retailers not only necessitates that store associates remain knowledgeable regarding the products they sell, but it also requires brands to create products that will excite their partners when they are planning their inventory.
“In addition to being easy to use, yet very effective at eliminating stains and odors, consumers are searching for products that are safe for use on and around carpets and furniture,” says Phillpotts. “Retailers have limited shelf space, so they want products that keep customers happy and coming back for more.” PB