Picking-up on What Pets are Leaving Down
Meeting the demand for goods that help pet parents easily manage their animals’ waste means that manufacturers are creating innovative tools and multi-purpose solutions.
Within the marketplace, pet parents are able to find many different types of waste solutions. These products include eco-friendly waste bags, dispensers and carriers. Though waste-disposal and pick-up products for pet excrement might seem to be a limited segment of the market, consumers want solutions that make this chore much easier.
Some manufacturers of pick-up goods are interested in taking business beyond the standard bag used to dispose of pet waste by creating products that afford the ease of carrying many supplies, while remaining small enough to be convenient. At Doog, husband and wife team Jessica and Jamie Knight create solutions to solve the issues of pet-waste pickup by moving beyond the standard bag.
“We started with dog walking belts, then created running belts (a smaller, lightweight, more simplified version of the walkie belt),” explains Jessica Knight. “Most recently, we’ve designed the Walkie Pouch, which is a little canvas pouch that holds our pocket pack bags around your dog’s leash for a quick dash around the block.”
For other manufacturers that have created products to solve some of the common problems associated with pick-up bags—such as environmental concerns and ease of use—the smaller details are becoming bigger selling points. For Paul D. Cannella, president and owner of PoopBags.com, this meant combining the most popular features from two of his goods into one product.
“We’re going to be merging our USDA-Certified Biobased and Count-Down Rolls. Our Count Down Rolls are numbered from 15 to 1 on each roll. By increasing our production runs and investing in more machines, we’re able to merge the SKUs and bring the price down. Now we compare head-to-head price wise, but with USDA Biobased bags with the Count Down feature.”
Manufacturers who have successfully identified the needs of their client bases will be able to recognize that keeping certain products, which are beloved by customers, can be as important as unveiling new goods. Alison Cremeans, brand manager of PAW (Pet Adventures Worldwide) discusses how the doggo Retractable Leash Accessory Bag for Large Retractable Leashes became a popular product that has built a strong customer base.
“This product has been around for more than 10 years and continues to be our best-selling retractable leash accessory. The majority of pet parents use waste bags that come in rolls and I believe the success of this item is partly due to the fact that it can accommodate these traditional roll sizes.”
Manufacturers also need to clearly identify the ways in which pet care has changed. Through identifying how the role of pets has become elevated within the family, they are able to recognize how their products will fit into the new family dynamic. Christine McManus, creative director of Doggie Walk Bags, explains how the company’s pop-out bags remain a customer favorite as pets become more accepted as family.
“When we started our business 30 years ago, approximately 20 percent of apartments accepted pets. Today, 80 percent allow pets. Picking up after a pet is not only a courteous action, in many places it is demanded by law to keep common areas cleaner and safer.”
Don’t Waste That Sale
Retailers must be creative when it comes to expanding pick-up product sales for pets. While having a discerning eye regarding inventory choices is wise, retailers shouldn’t immediately turn away from new, innovative product offerings in this category, as manufacturers also know their own clients’ demands.
“We find some retailers are hesitant to try it at first, as they are often not sure where it fits into their store,” says Knight. “We always find that when a store puts in some bags, belts, pouches and our training gear together—and near the travel and pick-up section—it has a great stand out in store and sells well.”
By keeping in mind that these products exist to afford ease and simplicity to pet parents, retailers can use this consumer need as an opportunity to showcase products designed to improve such a simple, yet unpleasant task.
“Knowledgeable staff, customer service and convenient placement are always helpful, but having these products available for customers to see and touch can make a huge difference,” says Chris Crosson, co-owner and president of Doggie Walk Bags. “Some of our products, like our Cross Body Bags
or Dogbag Butlers, are hard to resist once they are tried on or seen in action.”
While it’s important for retailers to remain accessible to customers for informed discussions regarding the best pick-up solutions, certain customers prefer being left alone to shop and find these products for themselves. By displaying goods in different areas throughout the store, retailers will help ease the burden of waste management for pet parents who have different types of shopping styles.
“We suggest that our retailers place these items in line with or nearby their leash section, but also in their waste-management section,” Cremeans advises. “Some pet parents don’t realize they’re just dealing with the issue and may not be aware that there is a very easy, very affordable solution. We depend on our retailers to help them solve the problems they didn’t even know they had.”
Despite the popularity of solutions for disposing of animal waste, there are still some pet parents who have not yet recognized the importance of picking up all the excrement, every time. These consumers who are resistant to purchasing pet-waste bags are important potential customers and should not be ignored, despite their current lack of interest in buying these products.
“Some people won’t [pick up waste] if they don’t have a ‘free’ grocery bag, so we wanted to make a value tier to overcome that,” Canella explains.
Though these customers might be a tough sell when it comes to waste bags, there is still an opportunity to convert these pet parents by changing their minds and convincing them of the benefits of using these products. It is this potential to expand his offerings to a resistant segment of pet parents that prompted Cannella to examine how he could make waste bags more appealing to these customers.
“We’re adding a value-priced line for folks buying purely on price,” Cannella explains. “Our value-priced line leverages the oxo-biodegradable technology we won an award for several years.”
Though resistant pet parents might view buying pet-waste bags as a purchase that can’t be justified, through explaining the benefits of using affordable, quality products for disposal, retailers can shift these consumers away from bad habits and into a sale. Within this expanding market, retailers can find opportunities to sell waste pick-up products, but also an array of accessories to reduce the awkward task of cleaning up after pets. PB