Cultivating Sales

Consumer demand for natural catnip and cat grass products from trusted sources is driving manufacturers to respond with innovative, quality goods.


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Consumers continue to demand transparency regarding the smallest details of every product they purchase for pets, and that includes goods as seemingly simple as catnip. In fact, catnip and cat-grass gardens have evolved to become valuable feline health solutions. So, it should come as no surprise that manufacturers have tapped into the increased demand for natural pet-health products by giving catnip a natural overhaul and revealing the benefits of homegrown cat-grass gardens. 

Purchasing catnip products from passionate, educated sources who are excited about developing solutions for cats is a priority for consumers. As a cultivator of catnip products, Pascal Bedard, president of From the Field, LLC, reveals that the herb’s active natural chemical nepetalactone, which produces the sense of euphoria in cats, is most concentrated in the buds of these plants. 

“The nepetalactone is contained in the catnip plant essential oil,” he says. “There is a higher concentration of essential oil in the flower tops and less in the leaves and stems. Our catnip buds are hand harvested in our Washington state catnip fields around the end of July each year, at maximum natural essential oil content. They are then carefully dried and packaged.” 

As an enthusiastic catnip producer, Bedard wants pet parents to maximize the benefits of his products. He advises retailers to educate pet parents regarding the most effective methods to increase catnip potency. 

“When giving catnip buds to your cat, we recommend crushing a flower piece between your fingers and giving it to your cat after removing the stems,” he says. “Guess what? When you crush the buds, you release the essential oil trapped in those tiny bells, and your cats will hear bells once they get a whiff.”

By educating pet parents and providing insight regarding proper catnip usage, retailers will forge strong relationships with consumers based on trust. When consumers trust their resources for catnip products, they are more likely to remain loyal customers.



The Secret to Cat Gardens
Once a habit that pet parents prohibited, eating certain types of grass has been found to provide health benefits to animals. As pet parents demand goods that are produced with the least amount of processing, manufacturers have created solutions that allow consumers to take part in production. The trend of purchasing cat-grass garden kits has become common practice as manufacturers who can empathize with consumers create products to suit a more hands-on pet parent. 

“Betsey, the founder of our company, is an animal expert and lover,” says Shannon Supanich, marketing and public relations manager of Pioneer Pet Products. “She wanted to create an all-natural oats, wheat, rye and barley that was great for cat health and digestion. These together really help aid in a cat’s overall health as well as digestion and aiding them to eat healthy grass instead of plants in the home.”  

Though pet parents want to play a greater role in the production of their animals’ food, as well as their health and wellness solutions, retailers should advise consumers that they must not only invest money, but also time into cultivating these products. To maximize the life of cat-grass gardens, consumers must maintain these products. Supanich explains the normal lifespan and maintenance of the plants, before a refill is necessary.

“It depends on how many cats you have and how much your cat eats,” she says. “I would say, on average, a kit will last two to four weeks, as long as you snip and water it. This is per cat. When selling the Kitty Garden or refill, just make sure the customer is follow the growing instructions.”



All in the Feline Family
Companies that have deep roots in providing quality solutions have established their reputations for producing effective products. By using a company’s history as a leading family-owned brand, makers of catnip products, such as Coastal Pet Products, entice consumers through promoting their longevity in the market. 

“Coastal Pet has been committed to leading the industry with high-quality products that consumers trust since 1968,” says Kirk Dixon, Coastal’s category director. 

“The North American climate, combined with tenured farming techniques, makes North American catnip among the best. Educating on the benefits of North American catnip and seeing its high performance during use helps to build the consumer experience.”

Not only do these manufacturers understand how to develop catnip products according to changing trends over time, they are also able to anticipate the features that will work to satisfy an animal’s innate needs. Though domestic cats might lose some of their wild sensibilities while being raised in a home, there exists a natural inclination to prey on other creatures that remains throughout the animal’s lifetime.

“Cats need variety and can have different play styles based on their hunting instincts,” explains Dixon. “Offering a variety of toys will allow the retailer to cater to each. Our research shows [pet parents’] main concern is whether their cat will play with the toy. Catnip is an additional feature that has the ability to increase a cat’s level of enjoyment in a toy.”



A Growing Market
Within these seemingly simple products, what can retailers expect from catnip manufacturers in 2017? Already an innovator in this sector, From the Field has created alternatives to standard dried catnip through its catnip-oil-dipped products, such as its Chewy the Hemp Rope and Billy Bob the Cork Ball. 

“Once your cat is done playing with the balls or the small rope, you can put them back in the resealable bag of catnip for the night, and the next day, they are refreshed and ready,” says Bedard. “Our customers like the balls, a staple for kitties, and the small rope is a cool chew toy for cats. It is raw, natural, twisted hemp rope, straight from the field.”

Next year, From the Field will continue to promote the brand’s Ultimate Blend, which comprises a catnip and silver vine mix. By offering free samples for retailers to pass along to consumers, Bedard hopes to raise brand awareness and tap into the market of dog owners who also care for feline family members. 

While manufacturers agree that remaining informed on trends and consumer demand are important, some cat-grass garden producers have perfected their formulas and are now focused on supplying products that also complement the home environment. As Supanich explains, Pioneer Pet Products’ priority is offering natural products that promote cat wellness, but they want to exceed customers’ style expectations. 

“We are constantly reviewing the market and looking for more ways to improve the health and wellness of animals, [but we] also try to follow style trends,” she says. “We want products that are healthy, create happy lives between pets and pet owners and are stylish for the home. Why can’t you have it all? We will continue to create an all-natural, healthy product. You can’t get much better then oats, wheat, rye and barley.”

With much of consumer focus continuing to surround natural products, manufacturers are extremely cognizant of clientele expectations. As pet parents seek more innovative—yet safe and natural—catnip products, manufacturers are going to rely on creating new products by returning to the basics.

“The natural catnip toys provide retailers with a line of toys that use more natural materials and feature colors more likely to occur in nature,” according to Dixon. “Catnip trends will continue to grow in 2017, and cat toys will remain a focus for Coastal. We will continue to provide innovative cat toys that feature unique uses of catnip.”

 

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