Between-Bath Products

How retailers can freshen up their sales and marketing of the newest in-between bath products for dogs.




We all love our pets, but we don’t always love their odor. In an ideal world, there would be plenty of time to keep pups smelling fresh every day. In the real world, though, there’s the next best thing: in-between bath products.

Just as we use deodorant and apply lotion between baths, explains Pete Stirling, president at Skout’s Honor, it’s important that we give the same type of maintenance to our pets.

Like the name suggests, in-between bath products are wipes, sprays and other topical treatments that let pet parents “bathe” their pup in between full grooming sessions. The emergence of these types of products are not only a reflection of modern owners’ busy schedules, but also the world’s changing attitudes toward pets.

“As more and more people consider pets part of the family, we are living in ever closer proximity with them,” says Doug Gleason, president of TrueBlue Pet Products. “Many people allow pets up on the furniture and in the bed with them, and that means it [has become] increasingly important that our pets are clean.”

Since the category is growing at a rapid pace, in-between bath products present a great opportunity for retailers to set themselves apart from the competition in the minds of customers.

“Anyone can buy a shampoo online or at the big box store, but the pet retailer is the right destination for those who want to provide a better grooming experience for their loved ones,” adds Stirling. “It is important to live up to that expectation.”

To become that go-to destination for pet parents, retailers need to position themselves as a category authority in their communities. That means having your pulse on the latest pet grooming and skincare trends, which, considering how quickly this category is evolving, is no small feat.

“Always look forward,” advises Stirling. “Your set should always represent what is hot and what is next, not what ‘was.’ The worst thing you can do is over-invest in a short lived or out-of-date trend.”

Like much of the pet industry, many of the trends in the in-between bath category are directly impacted by what’s going on in the human beauty industry. Topical probiotic products, for instance, have been shown to help relieve skin issues for both Buster and his owner.

“Pet parents have been successfully using digestible probiotics for a while now and seeing positive results,” explains Stirling. “The American Academy of Dermatology has put a lot of time and energy into researching the benefits of applying probiotics topically to help remedy skin issues and it is only natural that this trend moves into the pet market sooner than later.”

Making Sales
It’s not just about having the latest products on the shelves, though. Retailers also need to back up their inventory with the knowledge and expertise needed to be successful in today’s overcrowded market.

Salespeople should be educated on both the ingredients of in-between bath products and the best way to apply them, so staff can offer reliable guidance to customers about which in-between bath product is right for their pet’s specific needs.

One of the most prevalent concerns among pet parents is about products’ safety, according to Melissa Gulbranson, vice president of marketing at Oxyfresh. For these customers, Gulbranson says staff should suggest options that are free of harsh chemicals and added fragrances because these ingredients can irritate pets’ sensitive skin and noses.

“Overpowering scents aren’t needed to safely and gently neutralize odors,” she adds. “We need to remember if it smells overpowering to us, just think about how it smells to our sensitive smelling furry friends.”

Many pet parents also often have questions about how frequently to use products and potential side effects, like drying of pets’ skin.

“Many consumers were telling us that they wanted to use wipes every day,” he says. “That’s why we used macadamia nut extract in our Super Fresh Body & Paw wipes. It actually adds moisture back into the skin without leaving any greasy feel. Retailers can let their customers know that there are between bath products that won’t dry out the skin.”

Retailers can also help assuage customers’ concerns by offering free samples. This lowers the bar to entry, so pet parents feel more comfortable trying out a new in-between bath products. Afterall, “seeing is believing,” says Gleason.

“We believe that sampling is one of the keys to growing this category,” he says. “More and more people are bringing their pets with them when they go to the pet store. It’s great opportunity to have samples of wipes out on the counter for people to try, so they can see how a well a product cleans and how fresh it smells.”

Cleaner Merchandising
How retailers choose to display in-between bath products can also have a big impact. Gleason recommends organizing products by function rather than brand, so customers don’t have to go searching up and down the aisle to compare in-between bath offerings.

Another bright idea to boost incremental sales is grouping together complementary products and marketing them as skin care sets.

“That is the easiest way to communicate to the customer that pet skin care is a process and not just a single product,” says Stirling. “Supporting a complete product solution by technology creates add-on sales and is an easy way to increase dollars per transaction.”

Although smelly pets aren’t always pleasant, it’s not an especially serious topic—retailers shouldn’t be afraid to have a little fun and get creative when creating displays of in-between bath products.

Gulbranson suggests creating a seasonal display focused on the bane of every dog owner in the spring: muddy paws. Something as simple as using images of pets that are a little dirty paired with a display of non-toxic, easy spray-on solutions will draw the consumer in.  PB


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