Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Tackling shedding problems with a wide range of effective solutions can help retailers earn customers’ trust and spark sales in multiple categories.
Offering shedding solutions goes far beyond cleanup for fur left on sofas and floors—it includes caring for the animals’ skin and coat health, reducing pet odor and ridding the environment of dander and hair debris. The more options retailers provide, the more customers will depend on their expertise, and the more sales opportunities there will be.
Shedding is an issue that impacts a number of different product categories, so retailers should make certain to cover them all. Proper nutrition, including nutritional supplements that target skin and coat health, can help reduce shedding. Regular professional grooming can too, as salons can use techniques, tools, products and powerful dryers that consumers can’t afford or don’t have access to in order to help de-shed. But the most effective means to keep shedding under control is to remove shed hair through regular brushing at home with the right brush and a brushing spray.
“Shedding is one of the biggest challenges for pet parents,” says Ursula Callahan, grooming product manager for Four Paws and Magic Coat. “Hydrating and moisturizing the coat will help prevent future shedding.”
Magic Coat has both wet and dry solutions to do just that, as well as reduce static that can lead to tangles. The company also offers a Reduces Shedding Collection that offers de-shedding tools for specific coat types and brushing sprays. Its Rotating-Head Slicker swivels into eight locking positions to allow easier grooming of hard to reach areas, and its patented 2-in-1 Brush with bristles and shedding blade stimulates natural oils to leave a shiny, healthy coat. The Reduces Shedding line also includes a dry shampoo spray inspired by the human market, which can provide an easy, moisturizing refresh between baths.
Bass Brushes, a manufacturer associated for almost 40 years with beauty, quality and sustainability in the human hair industry, offers its Fusion line of brushes, made with both bristles and metal pins.
“Nothing will stop shedding, it’s how best to manage it,” says Joel Weinstein, vice president of Bass Brushes. “The Fusion brushes improve the overall condition of the coat by using a metal alloy pin to separate larger clumps of shed hair, de-shed and detangle, and then the natural boar bristles in the same brush head remove smaller hairs, dander and debris from the coat.”
This dander and debris removal is key for any allergy sufferers in the home. Because the bristles are 100 percent natural, they also do a superior job of distributing the sebaceous oils in the hair, creating shine and allowing newly shed hair to fall out more readily.
While brushing and combing at home is a great way to reduce shedding, there are other methods as well, such as high-velocity dog dryers. Since much of the dirt and odor connected with dogs is actually on the dead hair, removing it can refresh dogs without having to bathe them.
“If you really want to de-shed, use a Blaster or Master Blaster and any loose hair will come off,” says David Stern, vice president of marketing at MetroVac. “Use it in the back yard on a dry dog and get rid of dead hair before it hits the floor.”
Long a favorite with professional groomers, more and more dog owners are buying Metro dryers to use in between groomings to dry their pet correctly and efficiently, Stern says. “German Shepherds, Akitas, Newfoundlands, Goldens—all the big shedding dogs can be de-shed more easily using this technique, and it’s also good for shorter coats such as Beagles or Pugs,” he says. “It works on all breeds and coats due to the variable speed control that can dial from zero to 100 percent. This also allows you to vary the noise level for geriatric or timid dogs.”
No matter how earnestly pet owners endeavor to reduce shedding, it can’t be completely eliminated. Even if you have a sphynx cat or a Chinese Crested dog, they will still shed skin flakes and dander. And if you have a dog with one of those thick coats, you end up with enough shed hair around the house to make an extra dog. This leaves cleanup as one of the most important aspects of shed control, and pet retailers are always looking for a better way to help customers to do just that. Sticky rollers have been around forever and are always good sellers, but there are a couple of newer ideas on the market as well.
Furrfighters offers a type of leather glove that both picks up shed hair and can be used for grooming, as well as a furniture brush of the same material. “My products are really the only ones that remove loose, shedding hair from most fabric surfaces and remove that same shedding hair from pets just by petting them,” says Jim Rimoshytus, founder and owner. “No sticky or rubbery surfaces to deal with, no electricity needed, no combs, brushes, sponges or stones to pull the hair from, nothing to throw away but the hair.”
Another interesting new product for hair removal is the ShedTek Pet Hair Pickup Tool from Kooper+Co, introduced at SuperZoo and now starting to roll out to pet specialty retailers. ShedTek was developed by pet owners who found that transporting their dogs in cars led to a lot of difficult-to-remove shed hair in their vehicles. Tired of trying to get embedded hairs out with vacuums or other means, they developed a tool made of recycled glass composite that works on cloth and carpet surfaces. A flat stroke across the fabric pulls out the embedded hair, then a light tap removes the hair, to be picked up by hand or with a vacuum.
Tom Kileen, president of Kooper+Co., suggests displaying the product near the cash register, preferably with a demonstration. He points out that when people are in the store, they may be focused on the task at hand—buying their pet’s food, for instance. When they reach the register, they slow down. The packaging points out the benefits, but a car mat, some pet hair and a ShedTek tool allows them to see for themselves how well it works.
“There’s a lot of skepticism, as people have tried a lot of products with limited success,” Kileen says. “When we demo it, it’s amazing how fast it goes from skepticism to, ‘I’ll take one.’”
Brush attachments for vacuums are also a popular choice—Furminator, maker of the well known de-shedding tool, has them, as does Metro dryers. A newly available option is the ActiVac, marketed by Chuck Simons, known for the Groomers Helper and ActiVet brushes. The ActiVac includes a carding tool to use on pets and a small vacuum attachment for removing hair from upholstery.
Retailers will see their best return by making sure they have every solution pet owners need to handle all aspects of the inevitable shedding. Get ready for spring by creating a cross-category display of everything needed to combat the issue—nutritional supplements with omega-3 and -6 oils, coconut or salmon oils, brushes, combs, de-shedding tools, shampoos and conditioners, a force dryer and anything else they need to remove shed hair from the home. It will get attention and remind consumers that there are several ways to attack the problem, leading to increased sales.
Carol Visser has been involved in the pet industry since 1982 in various capacities, including grooming in and owning a busy suburban shop, working as a product expert for PetEdge, teaching seminars and training dogs. She certified as a Master Groomer with NDGAA in 1990 and as a Certified Pet Dog Trainer in 2007, and she continues to enjoy learning about dogs and grooming at her small salon in rural Maine.