Grooming’s Natural Evolution
Manufacturers are striving to meet the needs of concerned consumers who want to treat their pets’ skin and coats with the same care they afford themselves.
To remain relevant with pet owners, retailers must connect with consumers who treat their animals as family members by showing they care about seemingly small details that have a big impact—such as quality natural grooming solutions. As animals are increasingly elevated to a human level within households, pet parents are carrying over their own grooming practices to the animals in their families.
“We think that consumers and retailers will increasingly see that grooming products are part of the larger care category, and that the idea of wellness is going to become increasingly central to the category,” says Doug Gleason, president of TrueBlue Pet Products. “In the human world, this is called the health-and-beauty category, I believe that in the pet world we’re going to see a little more focus on the health aspect.”
Manufacturers have recognized the potential for creating goods beyond natural shampoos and conditioners to prevent specific health issues, many of which also appear in humans. It is this type of creativity that has led companies like Warren London to add solutions for specific skin and coat issues, as explained by Eric Bittman, the company’s CEO and president. For example, he emphasizes the importance of sunscreen as part of a dog’s regular grooming regimen.
“Dogs can get skin diseases the same as humans and, unfortunately, many pet parents do not use protection for their pups that run around in the sun,” says Bittman. “Many dogs have vulnerable spots , including on their head, elbows, belly and elsewhere that can easily burn. Our sunscreen also contains aloe vera that keeps the skin and coat moisturized.”
Soothing Natural Suds
With focus shifting toward grooming products that contribute to pet wellness, retailers have a responsibility to learn about the benefits of different natural ingredients. Manufacturers are introducing formulas that promote pet health, and they want to educate retailers on wholesome ingredients that can provide exceptional benefits—such as baobab oil.
“Baobab oil comes from seeds of the fruits of any of the nine species of Adansonia on the planet,” explains Peggy Smith, media manager for Bio-Groom. “It is an excellent moisturizer for the skin, promotes wound healing and prevents the skin from free radical damage.”
Though ingredient quality is important, another consideration that is often lost in this conversation is the amount used during manufacturing. To develop the best possible formulas, more manufacturers are using ratios that yield effective, affordable, solutions.
“Nature has designed ingredients such as shea, coconut oil, Abyssinian oil, argan oil, as well as many plant derivatives that provide deep conditioning and moisturizing properties, all of which are extremely beneficial in repairing and replenishing damaged skin and hair,” explains Petology CDL (chief dog lover) Rick Ferritto. “The first thing you have to do is understand the biological requirements for a dog’s skin and coat. You look for ingredients that are naturally designed to heal and replenish to serve its needs.”
To build valuable customer relationships, retailers must genuinely care about the reasons pet owners are making specific demands. Consumers are embracing their duties as pet caregivers by seeking out brands whose offerings are most beneficial to animal wellbeing.
“Pet parents are seeking natural products that are effective and go above and beyond the pet industry’s standards,” says James Brandly, public relations specialist for TropiClean. “We strive to innovate the finest products and want to provide multiple natural solutions in each category that we pursue to fit the lifestyle, need and desire from both pet parents and their pets.”
Building Trust Through Transparency
Many manufacturers are looking beyond guidelines and considering how regulations for natural grooming products would benefit the industry. For now, responsible manufacturers are answering consumer demands for extensive ingredient lists, ethical commitments and transparency, and they’re looking to retailers for support.
“The pet grooming industry is not regulated...but with allergies to the pet parent or the dog, plus many dangerous chemicals that are still unfortunately used, we believe it is important to know exactly what you are using,” Bittman says.
A growing number of manufacturers are suggesting that the formation of an organization to oversee pet grooming products could benefit the entire industry. With the establishment of a regulatory agency, greater transparency and increased consumer trust would be a winning formula for everyone.
“On the human side, we have the Society of Cosmetic Chemists,” reveals Dr. David Jarvis, director of animal healthcare innovation for Petology. “I was one of the founding members of the Lake Erie chapter. There is no such governing body for pet-care products. There is no way for formulators to talk to one another. It would be great to be able to get together, talk and push the industry.”
Growth in natural pet grooming solutions is inevitable, so retailers should welcome opportunities to position themselves as resources by partnering with manufacturers who are passionate about these formulas. Though grooming products that fall within the natural category might seem to be a niche segment now, their popularity is on the rise. PB