Marking an Opportunity
Brad Specter, president of Natures Pillows, Inc., discusses how pet stores can effectively compete with mass and grocery retailers in the stain and odor category.
Pet Business: How can pet stores compete in the stain and odor category?
Brad Specter: To drive sales, mass and grocery retailers rely on breadth of assortment and price point. In addition, they depend on customers to serve themselves, offering limited customer service. In contrast, smaller pet stores understand pets and their owners’ needs. As a result, pet stores can build customer loyalty by taking the time to properly identify a pet owner’s problem and match them with the appropriate product.
Furthermore, many urine cleaning products on the market merely mask the stain and odor issue by utilizing soap, water and a deodorant formula. Pet stores can leverage product knowledge like this and educate their customers on the benefits of the superior products that they carry, such as Urine Gone and Stream Clean, which contain fast-acting enzyme-based solutions. Providing this level of service will ultimately translate into sales and loyal, repeat customers.
Lastly, effective brand advertising and retailer merchandising makes a huge difference in how customers make buying decisions. For example, customers are constantly made aware of the Urine Gone brand due to the $30 million in TV and print advertising behind Urine Gone and Stream Clean. Therefore, when a customer sees a Urine Gone product alongside other less-known products, they continually choose the familiar and trustworthy Urine Gone brand. Moreover, we have seen tremendous success when retailers feature Urine Gone and Stream Clean on endcap displays. This increased visibility makes it clear that smaller retailers too can offer the No. 1 urine cleaning brand.
PB: What are pet owners looking for in stain and odor eliminators?
Specter: There are two key attributes that pet owners look for in their pet urine cleaners: (1) a product that eliminates, not just covers-up, the stain and odor and (2) a product that is safe for pets.
First, unlike other household accidents, urine not only leaves a hard-to-remove stain, but also an underlying odor. Many household cleaners and urine cleaners on the market are merely a detergent with a strong scent. This only masks the odor we smell, but it does not eliminate the source. Consequently, the urine will penetrate deep into the padding, and most times, down to the floor. And, as long as there is urine present, pets will continue to smell and re-mark the same area.
Conversely, our products fully eliminate the urine through the use of the enzymes. These enzymes break down the odor instantaneously, eliminating the issue of re-marking. As for urine stains, the enzyme-based solution in Urine Gone and Stream Clean instantly penetrate into the fibers of a carpet, breaking down the urine and removing the stain from the carpet, padding and floor.
Secondly, traditional carpet cleaners made from harsh cleaning chemicals are not safe around pets. In contrast, enzymes are produced by proteins, biodegradable, and are all-natural, which make them safe for both people and pets.
PB: How should retailers go about building a stain and odor assortment?
Specter: In regard to pet urine cleaning products, quality is much more important than the number of products offered. In our experience with Urine Gone and Stream Clean, stain and odor customers are a very brand-loyal group. Once a customer uses a urine cleaner that actually works, there is no other cleaner they will move to. Furthermore, in the case of a pet specialty retailer, it makes the most sense to offer a general pet stain and odor cleaner, rather than multiple cleaners geared towards specific pets.
Finally, we suggest that retailers diversify the delivery systems that they carry. Some customers might prefer a spray-and-shoot application, while others feel more confident with a spray bottle.
PB: What does the future hold for the stain and odor category in pet stores?
Specter: The first thing to note is that sales in the stain and odor category will continue to grow for pet retailers. There are currently 150 million pet owners in the U.S., and that number is steadily increasing every year. The more pet-owning households, the more stain and odor products required.
In addition, you can see higher-quality products moving from a basic soap, water and deodorant formula to more advanced, enzyme-based and bio-enzyme based formulas. With Urine Gone products on the market, which completely eliminate urine stains and odors, there will no longer be any demand for the products that only cover-up the issue.
Finally, retailers will notice that as America ages, product ease of use is becoming imperative. In contrast to most other products, Stream Clean is designed so that no bending or scrubbing is necessary. The user only needs to point-and-shoot from a standing position to successfully remove the stain and odor.