Between Bath Products for Dogs
Keeping dogs clean is a priority, but with the busy schedules of pet parents there might not be time for a full groom, spurring sales in between-bath products.
As anyone will attest, time is tight and getting tighter by the minute. We all have obligations and responsibilities we must meet that often get in the way of things we’d rather be doing. Take, for example, grooming and everything required to keep dogs clean and smelling fresh. On the one hand, every pet owner knows how important a bath is for their pet’s well being and comfort. But on the other hand, whether self-serve or performed by a groomer, fitting this aspect of dog care into a busy schedule isn’t always easy. And because pups can’t actually voice their complaints about an untidy appearance, the periods between baths can stretch longer than optimal.
Enter between-bath products, those wipes, sprays, dry shampoos and fragrances that help keep dogs presentable when there’s no time for the tub. There are several trends sparking interest in these kinds of products, a big one being how attached—emotionally and physically—we have gotten to our doggy pals.
“We are living in closer proximity with our pets,” Doug Gleason, founder of TrueBlue Pet Products, explains. “More people are allowing their pets to be up on the furniture with them and also in bed with them. And if your dog is sitting next to you on the couch, or lying next to you on the bed, you’re going to be more motivated than ever to make sure the dog is clean and smelling nice.”
The Los Angeles-based company makes a line of all-natural wellness products for dogs and cats that includes dental, ear and eye wipes, as well as cleansing wipes, shampoos, conditioner and detangler. Gleason says that dog owners are checking out products that clean paws and those providing odor control. One of their newest items is the Pure and Sure Puppy Wipes with Chamomile and Honeysuckle that have moisturizing and anti-microbial properties. They also offer the Fresh-in-a-Flash Cleansing Spray with Grapefruit and Chamomile, which can be sprayed on and left in, or combed through the fur.
The desire to avoid the use of harsh chemicals or antibiotics to treat skin, coat, ear or other problems is another trend impacting between-bath products, one that mirrors the interest in reducing the use of antibiotics in human-care formulas, says Debra Decker, director of marketing for Pet King Brands, Inc. Located in Westmont, Ill., the company provides the ZYMOX line of dermatology products containing Pet King’s patented LP3 Enzyme System, along with a variety of oral and ear care products. Included are the ZYMOX Shampoo and the ZYMOX Conditioning Rinse. Both are formulated to provide relief for pets with itchy or dry skin. The shampoo calms the pet’s inflammatory response; the conditioning rinse can be left on the coat to dry, providing additional relief. Another product is the ZYMOX Ear Cleanser, which also has the enzyme system for mild microbial control.
On the Rise
Decker says that as more dog owners, especially millennials, treat their pets like children and participate in more physical activities with them, the demand for grooming products is growing. Advice from groomers and veterinarians about how to treat or ward off troubled skin—common in pets with allergies—is also contributing to this category’s pace.
According to Decker, estimates are that around 20 percent of the pet population is afflicted with allergies, and in most cases these will last a lifetime. Although unfortunate for the dog or cat, it does allow pet specialty retailers to deliver an important service to their customers by providing effective solutions for itchy, inflamed skin and other symptoms.
“Shampoo therapy is one of the first steps in providing relief to an itchy pet, starting with a gentle enzymatic shampoo to calm the inflammation,” Decker explains. “Providing relief between baths becomes especially important for the allergic pet, therefore the demand for non-toxic, effective products has also increased.”
A boon for a variety of categories, the humanization of pets has boosted this one as well, says Dallas Van Kempen, president and owner of EQyss Grooming Products Inc. Headquartered in Vista, Calif., the company manufactures, sells and distributes its own line of grooming products for pets and horses, incorporating human-quality ingredients. Included is the ELITE Conditioning Spray, a detangling spray with UV-protecting ingredients and fortified with oils and extracts for easy brushing, conditioning and moisturizing. The Avocado Mist, excellent for long-haired breeds, is a botanical leave-on conditioning spray that maintains the moisture balance within the hair shaft, preventing the coat from becoming dry and damaged, and reducing shedding while adding shine.
As Van Kempen explains, people are becoming better educated about how to take care of their pets, and because they consider them part of the family, they’re putting more effort into doing so.
“They are trying and buying new things they might not have thought of before,” he explains. “Pet parents will spare no expense, if they can even remotely afford it, to help or solve a problem for their pet—as you would if it were a child or a relative in need.”
Gleason says that when making purchasing decisions in this category, price doesn’t seem to carry much weight, citing moist wipes as evidence of this.
“Most pet lovers are not necessarily looking for the least expensive wipe, they could find baby wipes at a very low price if that were the case,” he says. “They want value—in this case it can mean great performance at a reasonable price with ingredients that are safe for pets.”
Nevertheless, one of the issues when it comes to wipes is that people will often relate pet wipes to baby wipes, says Leslie Yellin, executive vice president for Multipet International, Inc., a Moonachie, N.J. provider of grooming products and pet toys.
“Although there are differences, these are often compared when it comes to price, size of wipe and strength,” she explains. “At Multipet our wipes must pass the ‘thumb test;’ if you can’t easily push your thumb through the wipe, you have a quality product.”
The company features two wipe options—one for everyday use and one for use in areas such as ears, eyes and other sensitive places, says Yellin. Different sizes are available, with the 25-pack travel size—which fits into a purse, glove box or backpack—the most favored.
Steve Nicolosi, national sales manager for Glo-Marr Products, Inc., cautions that for the most part people remain price-sensitive, regardless of the product.
“[However,] once they see those products work, it’s a no-brainer,” he adds. “When the pet owner sees that a spray can provide instant relief from itching and scratching, they realize their pet needs it.”
Located in Lawrenceberg, Ky., Glo-Marr makes a variety of health and topical products for small and large animals, and is also a private label manufacturer. Its line of beneficial shampoos, like the Kenic Oatmeal Shampoo or the Kenic Medi-Tar Shampoo, have complimentary sprays to go with them for between-bath use. There is also the Kenic Dry Shampoo, which Nicolosi describes as a “great spot cleaner” useful for dogs that have been outside and are coming back in with dirty paws, belly and more. The company also offers the Kenic Kalaya Emu Oil Spray for general conditioning.
Cleaning up Sales
To spur sales activity, pet specialty retailers must be prepared to engage and educate customers about this category.
“It’s not an area where there’s a lot of knowledge out there yet,” says Van Kempen, who characterizes the market for between-bath products as on the rise, but still small. “Word of mouth is usually how these types of products grow in popularity, and that is what’s happening now until they become a mainstream expectation.”
Pet specialty retailers do a great job of finding new products and showcasing them, he adds, but they still face challenges in terms of product education and staff training. To assist, Van Kempen says EQyss makes an effort to do trainings. He also notes that more stores are providing online staff training and product education sessions.
Nicolosi says Glo-Marr makes a concerted effort to talk with stores about between-bath products and how to sell these specialty items, saying this helps facilitate a feedback loop—educated retailers and staff equal greater customer satisfaction and trust, which ultimately translates into more sales.
What should retailers ask customers to get them thinking about these items? Van Kempen suggests taking a casual approach, inquiring what the customer is doing for the pet in between baths. Then suggest some solutions, such as a spray to counteract the doggy smell, which will also make the coat softer and the dog more pleasant to pet.
Also query as to whether the dog is an inside or an outside pet, advises Nicolosi. Notice what the customer is purchasing. If it’s a medicated shampoo, make the person aware of the advantages of also buying a spray or cream that can be used daily, even multiple times a day.
“Daily grooming doesn’t have to be hard when all you have to do is spray the coat,” Nicolosi explains.
Look for seemingly unrelated opportunities. For example, if talking to a customer who has a pet with a restricted diet or who is concerned about food options, ask about skin conditions that often accompany food-sensitive pets, such as itchy, dry skin or scratching, says Decker. This will give the retailer an opening to suggest topical remedies and get creative with merchandising, she adds.
“To increase awareness of remedy products, particularly for the allergic pet, many retailers have chosen to cross-sell this category by placing a display where the limited-ingredient and specialty diet foods for dogs or cats,” Decker says, adding that another “best practice” is placing signage about remedy products in the pet food aisles—and, of course, in the grooming area.
Because many between-bath products are designed for on-the-go use and active lifestyles, cross-merchandising them with leashes, collars and harnesses, as well as with travel products, is another effective merchandising tactic. Finally, don’t forget the sales-boosting power of sampling.
“More and more pet lovers are bringing their pets with them when they go to the pet store,” says Gleason. “A retailer can have samples of these products available at the counter for the customer to try right there in the store. Then, when the pet parents see the results, they can buy the product right away.” PB