New Product Passion

Retailers can take advantage of growing consumer interest in the latest innovations by promoting the debut of exciting new small animal products.


It seems that nearly every day there is an announcement about the release of a new cell phone or some other electronic device out on the market. Technology manufacturers and retailers count on the public’s appetite for new and improved gadgets to make these launches a success. Although the pet industry is quite a different market, pet specialty retailers also can leverage consumers’ love for the latest innovations to increase sales.

Hamsters are the most popular small pet in the trade, and related products generally comprise a large percentage of the small pet department. Manufacturers have responded with the development of seemingly endless ideas for hamster products, introducing new items every year. Retailers can use the debut of new products as an opportunity to update current customers on these incoming items, as well as a chance to attract new buyers.

A habitat is the first item a customer needs when they purchase a new hamster, and it is also their largest investment. Habitats have also been the focus of the most innovation by manufacturers. Retailers might consider promoting the arrival of a new hamster habitat in a variety of ways to create excitement and possible new sales, even to hamster owners who already have a habitat for their pet. Stores can promote new items on their website or social media, as well as in local print advertising. 

For a particularly exciting new product, the announcement can take the form of an event, such as a reveal party. Shoppers can be encouraged to attend with the addition of features such as free drawings, special sales on related products, refreshments and the opportunity to meet the small pets available for sale. Retailers should contact manufacturers to ask for any help or suggestions they may be able to provide.

A similar promotion could be held to market the arrival of an exciting new toy. Retailers can learn about new products in the pages of magazines like this one, as well as by attending different trade shows. Do you remember when the first hamster balls came out? If an equally revolutionary toy were to be released now, would you be ready to take advantage of the opportunity it would represent? The first pet store in an area to carry and promote a new exciting product is poised to sweep the market.

There have been other innovative small rodent products that have hit the market from time to time over the years, such as the igloo, woven grass nests, and various different designs of exercise wheels and plastic tubes. Some of these would have readily lent themselves to a promotional event. One of these fairly new products is the running disc. Although it hasn’t been as popular with hamsters and rats as exercise wheels, the disc tends to work very well for gerbils since it doesn’t cramp their long tail.

Another situation that could form the basis of a promotion is when a retailer starts carrying a new line of products, especially if the brand is not available in other pet stores in the area. These days, social media makes it easy to spread the word, however, be sure to let customers know the reason why the new products are desirable and how they are different from competing brands.

New to You
A product doesn’t need to be new to the store to deserve promotion. Hamster and gerbil owners may not be aware of all the options available for their pets. A variety of diets for small rodents are on the market, but customers tend to purchase the same type of food over and over. It’s a good idea to encourage shoppers to try different types and brands of food to make sure they find the one that suits them, and their pet, best. 

The same goes for bedding and litter products. Customers can be tempted to try a different diet or bedding product when free samples are available, and they just might find one that works better for them than what they have been using. Anything that enhances the pet-owning experience benefits the retailer. Employees can also talk with customers buying food or bedding and ask if they are completely satisfied with the brand they have been buying, or if they have any questions, complaints or wishes about it. When a shopper knows the retailer is truly concerned about the well being of their pet and the owner’s satisfaction, it will go a long way to building customer loyalty.

Not all hamster and gerbil owners know that their pets can benefit from a regular dust bath. Gerbils especially need a dust bath once or twice a week to prevent their fur from becoming greasy, and a once-a-week dust bath can also be good for most dwarf hamsters. While Syrian hamsters don’t really need dust baths, it can be something they enjoy. This means chinchilla dust can be put on the list of consumables needed by hamsters and gerbils, along with food, bedding, treats and chew toys.

Debbie Ducommun has a B.A. in animal behavior and has worked in the animal field since 1982. She is the author of the book Rats!, the booklet Rat Health Care and, her most recent book, The Complete Guide to Rat Training: Tricks and Games for Rat Fun and Fitness.


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