Offering the newest solutions to the age old problem of pet poop can win retailers a loyal base of grateful customers.
Regardless of how bad the economy is, the pet industry shows continuous growth, thanks to Americans’ love for their furred, finned and feathered loved ones. As a result, according to the players in the waste management segment of the industry, business has always been, and will continue to be, perpetually “picking up.”
Responsible management of waste for our four-legged friends is a given and comes with the territory of responsible pet ownership. To that end, there is no lack of poopy pick-up bags and ancillary products on the market to fill what is said to be an increasing need.
Andrea Chen, vice president of business development for Best Pet Supplies, believes that the market growth is fueled by Baby Boomers and Millennials. “The pet industry is growing really fast partly because the empty nest Baby Boomers are filling the void from kids with pets,” says Chen. “Younger people are busy working and delaying having children and they are owning more dogs… and cats.”
Best Pet started out selling only dog beds but recognized a need for broader product offerings for both cats and dogs.
“In the past decade we extended into other products like poop bags, training puppy pads, sanitary wet wipes for paws when pets go outdoors, toys and harnesses,” she says. “We even have been asked to make products for customer’s cats and based on that demand; to start with, we will be rolling out a series of cat toys.”
While Best Pet has a number of sanitary products, Chen places emphasis on the company’s broad selection of poop bags. “We know that plastic is bad for the environment and we use a special ingredient in our poop bags that helps to shorten the bag life once it is used, and it is recyclable,” adds Chen. “By using the best technology available, we are trying to make them as earth friendly as we can.”
Katie Brennan, president and founder of Puppy Pad Wizard, agrees that doting pet parents continue to fuel growth in the pet care market and has a product that is designed to appeal to this valuable customer base.
“There is such a continued trend in the humanization of our animals,” says Brennan. “Baby Boomers are my biggest clients, and with their kids gone, they have their little four-legged babies, and they are spoiling them. It is primarily women who buy our products.”
“If you look at social media postings for national Dress Up Your Pet day, you will see dogs dressed up in all kinds of costumes and outfits,” says Brennan. “We even receive pictures of customer’s special pet rooms and closets, and of their pets in strollers and little snuggly things to carry them around.”
Puppy Pad Wizard offers poop bags, spray and a fire-hydrant-shaped receptacle for used puppy pads. To dispose of the pad, a user opens up a drawer, puts in the pad, closes it and then pushes a button on the top of the hydrant, which releases a spray. It holds up to 20 soiled pads, and the bag can be thrown in the trash.
“Our product fits into the humanization category by providing a type of convenient diaper pail for your dog, along with bags and a neutralizing spray, and there is nothing like what we have on the market right now,” says Brennan. “Aside from being functional, it is also a great conversation piece.”
Considerate & Convenient
As loving pet owners continue to integrate their animals deeper into their everyday lives, retailers can expect to see a growing demand for waste-management solutions that are convenient on the go.
“As more business and public spaces become pet friendly, there will be a parallel demand for products associated with pet waste and the disposal of pet waste,” says Gretchen George, president of PetRageous Designs, a manufacturer that offers a wide variety of pet care solutions, including a convenient hands-free way to transport waste.
Transport Clips are flexible, plastic, bone-shaped clips that feature an easy-to-use bag holder in the center. Users push the used waste bag through the star-shaped slits in the holder to secure their used bags immediately. It features a heavy duty ring at the top, which clips to leash handles and provides plenty of clearance for a swinging bag until users reach a receptacle. The clips are available in pre-loaded display boxes of eight, which include four clips in lime green and four in aqua.
In addition to the growing acceptance of pets in public and business spaces, George believes that demand for pick-up products will be driven by the inevitable population trends and simple consideration on the part of pet owners. “Population growth in urban areas, continued growth in pet ownership, and a growing emphasis on responsible ownership will all play a part in expanding this product segment,” she says.
That growing emphasis on responsible pet ownership, cities having ordinances that mandate picking up after pets and an increased consumer awareness of the benefits associated with pet waste containment have all contributed to the success of Intelligent Products, Inc., maker of the Mutt Mitt brand of pick up bags.
“More than ever, pets accompany their owners on a diverse assortment of excursions such as camping trips, boating, public events and even trips to the store,” says Rod Lukey, general manager for Intelligent Products, Inc. “We provide a product that enables pet owners to safely and discretely deal with pet waste containment.
“We manufacture the premiere pet waste pick-up tool and our Mutt Mitt, which has an extra-thick bottom pouch that acts like a little ‘heat shield,’ taking the yuck out of picking up pet waste, and people can’t see through it.”
Intelligent Products, Inc., also offers a line of metal dispensers for use in business settings, parks, campgrounds or cities/municipalities. In addition, it offers customization to promote and build awareness for causes and businesses.
“We are made in America, and if someone has a special request for imprinting, we can turn around these orders quickly,” says Lukey.
Doggie Walk Bags also services both the consumer and commercial aspects of the pet waste industry, and provides custom imprinting. Based out of Costa Mesa, Calif., the company was started 28 years ago, giving president Chris Crossan a long-time perspective on the category.
“At that time [of the company’s founding], there wasn’t a real market for dog waste bags, and it was kind of like the seat belt law in that nobody used them, but the rules have all changed,” says Crossan.
Doggie Walk Bags offers both cat and dog bags, residential and commercial bag dispensers, and a line of Cross Body Bags in various colors. The bag can be worn over the shoulder or around the waste and has two separate pockets to fit a smartphone, dog bags, money, keys, cards and all the essentials.
In terms of the continued growth of the waste-management market overall, Crossan is optimistic.
“While it seems there a lot of people getting into it, there is enough out there for all of us to have a percentage,” he says. “People are thinking more about picking up after their pets either because it is the right thing to do or it is the law.
“In addition, dogs are becoming more inclusive in society. Even cities like Las Vegas that used to not allow pets at all are coming out with programs that are more pet friendly.”