A Focus on Stain & Odor Products

The stain and odor management category is an opportunity for retailers to showcase their knowledge and point customers in the right direction.




You’ve had a long day. You walk into your house, ready to relax, when an unpleasant smell immediately hits you.

All pet owners know it—accidents happen. Maybe they have a young puppy that needs to be trained, or maybe it’s an elderly cat with incontinence issues. Whatever the reason, owners need to be equipped with the tools and the knowledge to tackle any smell or stain before it lingers.

While taking steps to prevent an accident is the first step to maintaining a clean house, it’s often an unavoidable aspect of being a pet parent—it can get messy.

Thankfully, a variety of pet products on the market are designed specifically to handle tough stains and unpleasant odors adorable pets leave behind. Beyond anything else when it comes to stain and odor products, pet parents need efficiency.

“We provide previously unobtainable results from an environmentally-friendly product that just flat out works, so you can spend more time enjoying time with your pet and worry less about cleaning up after it,” says Pete Stirling, president and COO of Skout’s Honor.

The manufacturer creates a variety of solutions for pet parents, including the Stain & Odor Remover, Urine Destroyer, Urine & Odor Destroyer (for cats), Odor Eliminator, Litter Box Deodorizer and Stain & Odor Laundry Additive, among others.

Cosmos Corporation also offers a variety of stain and odor products under its Urine-Off, Zorb It-Up and Yard Clean Green Brands.

Urine-Off contains bacteria and enzymes that are isolated and “selected specifically for their appetite for the urine salt crystal, the source of the odor,” says James Brandly, associate trade marketing manager of Cosmos Corporation. “Our unique blend of live microorganisms remediates the urine salt crystal, eliminating new and old stains and odors on hard floors, carpet, upholstery and more.”

What customers don’t want to see—or smell—is a product that masks over the source of the odor.

“Many stain and odor products on the market mask the urine with a fragrance in an attempt to cover-up the urine odor,” says Brandly. “Other products seal in the urine within the surface.”

Josh Wiesenfeld, founder of Boxiecat, agrees with Brandly, and says that the best pet stain and odor products on the market specifically targets pet waste.

“The absolute best products will also help prevent re-soiling from occurring by reversing pheromone marking,” adds Wiesenfeld. “To accomplish this, the product needs to do more than mask the problem.[It needs to] completely eliminate the matter causing the underlying issue.”


It’s Good to be Green

Owners have sought out environmentally-friendly products and that trend does not appear to be slowing down any time soon. In response, manufacturers have continued to keep up with trends in sustainability in the stain and odor category, realizing that owners respect sustainably-created solutions.

As with many pet products, sometimes less is more.

“That is the really cool attribute of this new generation of green cleaning products, especially the surfactants—less goes into making them,” says Stirling. He explains that surfactants are molecules that have “one end that likes being wet, which we call hydrophilic, and the other that likes being dry, hydrophobic. The hydrophilic end stays in the water and the hydrophobic end attaches to the substrate, aka dirt.” If enough surfactants are added into a solution, the dirt is suspended in water and therefore is removed when the water is.

In essence, Stirling shares that the surfactants are a simple, reliable and an environmentally-friendly way to clean surfaces. He predicts more and more environmentally-friendly surfactant-based cleaners will appear in the future.

Boxiecat uses probiotics to ensure that enzymes in its products are created naturally.

The company offers solutions for pet owners with its safe and scrub-free products, Boxiecat and Boxiedog Stain & Odor Removers.

“We do not add enzymes because we include enough good bacteria (probiotics) to make plentiful enzymes naturally,” says Wiesenfeld. “These safe and extremely effective proprietary probiotics target specific molecules that cause pet odors and stains.”


Staying Safe

What is the difference between using pet-specific cleaning products and traditional cleaning products? The obvious answer is that pet-specific products are tailored towards a pet’s mess, but it’s also important to keep in mind that regular cleaning products may include chemicals and other substances that could harm pets.

“You have to make sure that the ingredients used won’t cause permanent digestive or respiratory harm,” says Stirling.

It’s up to the customer to check product labels themselves to see what ingredients are included. The benefit of purchasing a pet-specific cleaner for the pet owner is that the product should already be taking a pet safety into account.

Manufacturers realize that diligent pet owners are aware of what ingredients go into the products they use around their pets, and aim to deliver the safest, gentlest products possible.

“Consumers want to use safe products on their pets and around the home,” says Alison Cremeans, director of marketing for MiracleCorp Products. “And while this trend may never go away, we are always trying to find ways to improve our products.”

For both traditional cleaning products and pet-specific ones, it’s imperative that the product in question is safe for its designated surface, too. Fetch... for Pets!’ products go through extensive testing to ensure products are not only safe for pets, but for a variety of surfaces as well.


Customer Support

There’s nothing like a clean and easy-to-understand display, and with stain and odor products, there are many ways customers can browse products.

Some retailers might find the most efficient way of displaying these products as a problem-solution set, according to Stirling, who feels that products should be displayed together based on their purpose, rather than by brand.

“Currently, you see a lot of retailers merchandising by brand and I think there is room for improvement in that regard,” she says. “It’s OK to have multiple brands, but they should represent different value propositions, such as value, traditional and natural.”

Another way to showcase products is by adding a section for each age, considering certain age groups are much more likely to need stain and odor products.

“Putting stain and odor products by urine pads, puppy food, senior care items or in other sections relevant to a dog’s particular life phase is a great way to tell pet parents that you understand their pet’s specific needs,” says Cremeans.

When a pet owner walks in looking for a pet-friendly stain and odor product, it’s likely that they’re not looking for any specific product. This in turn presents an opportunity for a sales associate to assist a pet parent and offer advice.

According to Stirling, “[more than] 70 percent of the decision making process in stain and odor is made at the shelf.”

As a result, packaging can also make a huge impact on a customer’s purchase.

“It’s important for stain and odor products to quickly convey their use upon glancing at the packaging,” says Eileen Braha, marketing manager at Fetch... for Pets! “It helps to have streamlined messaging and a clean look to help parents select the best product for their needs.”

Aside from packaging, a well-informed sales associate can make a big difference when it comes to a customer’s decision to purchase a product.

“A well-respected retailer has more control than they think over which brand the customer chooses,” says Stirling. “Familiarity and trust are very important, but don’t feel like you’re a slave to the mass brands just because people ask for it by name.”

A store could also have solid fabric swatches on hand, “so customers can see how effective a product is before they purchase it,” says Cremeans.

Another way to leave a lasting impression on a pet owner is to include a stain and odor product as a basket builder or an add-on. A pet owner will appreciate the gesture, and get a sense as to what the product looks like, acts like and how to use it.

Another aspect of stain and odor shopping to keep in mind is that a cleaning product is a once-in-a-blue-moon purchase for the pet owner.

“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,” says Wiesenfeld. “Carrying truly effective products in this category is a great opportunity for retailers to be everyday heroes.”   PB


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