Gift Ideas for Pets and People

Gifts provide fun, incremental purchases during the holidays and year-round.


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People want to buy gifts for their loved ones, and that includes their pets and other people’s pets. Gifts for pets and their owners are reliable sources of impulse buys for retailers. Consumers at pet specialty stores can be swayed to toss into their cart an adorable toy or a fun item for their furry friends. To boost these incremental sales, manufacturers say they are updating their selections of gifts and expanding successful lines.

 

Toys are always a good gift, and pet products manufacturers are developing not only new toys, but innovative ways to present them. Chino, Calif.-based ZippyPaws offers gift boxes online and toys at retailers. Consumers buy both, says Leah Angelos, sales representative for the company.

 

The gift boxes work well for people who want to buy a gift to represent a certain stage in the dog’s life, such as adoption or celebrating the pup’s birthday. “Gift boxes used to be only assorted bundles but are now themed to give a customized experience or cater to specific occasions, like holidays and birthdays,” Angelos says.

 

Still, shoppers do go to retail stores to buy toys. “Pet specialty stores offer a much wider range of our individual toys and they have the added advantage of being able to merchandise and demonstrate the toys for consumers and their dogs to see and feel in person,” she says.

 

The newest offering from ZippyPaws is assorted Donutz boxes, which are available at select retail locations. The gift boxes include a four-piece regular Donutz gift box and a six-piece Mini Donutz gift box. There is also a Holiday Donutz Box, which features festive flavors like Peppermint, Gingerbread, Cherry and Mint Chip.

 

More new holiday toys come from San Francisco-based P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle And You). For gifts, two of the most popular products are the Wobble Ball 2.0 and the Holiday Classic Plush Toy Collection. This year, the company decided to combine the two and create a holiday-themed Wobble Ball. The Holiday Wobble Ball 2.0 features the interactive puzzle design that combines playtime and mental stimulation. The toy is designed to give the pup hours of interactive fun, enrichment and treats.

 

P.L.A.Y. also has new gifts for cats. The Feline Frenzy Collection of plush toys launched this year, with names like Sassy Sushi and Tutti FURutti. They feature built-in, refillable catnip-stuffed pouches.

 

“Especially around the holiday season, customers want to find gifts that are unique enough to stand out in a world where everything is readily available at our fingertips,” says Laura Morgan, social media specialist at P.L.A.Y.

 

Sustainability has become a top shopping priority for consumers who are willing to pay more for eco-friendly products that make the world a better place. “Finding the perfect gift for your pup or favorite pet parent can be one of the most enjoyable experiences,” Morgan says. “Knowing that what you buy is coming from an eco-friendly company like P.L.A.Y. can make it even better.”

 

Consumers also like charitable tie-ins, so P.L.A.Y. added the Snow Leopard Toy to a collection from which a portion of the proceeds benefit the International Fund for Animal Welfare along with the Snow Leopard Conservancy. “So, while most consumer product goods are only adding to our piles of stuff, we at P.L.A.Y. want to continue making products that pets not only love, but that their owners can actually feel good about purchasing,” says Morgan.

 

Gifts for Humans

One of the benefits of pet ownership is that it makes it easier for the person’s friends and relatives to buy them gifts. For owners of certain dog breeds, people often look for breed-related gifts. To satisfy this demand, Moonachie, N.J.-based Avanti Linens offers several lines of decorative towels, including two-piece towel sets available in the ten most popular American Kennel Club breeds. There are also four cat towel sets available. The dog towels are ivory, and the cat towels are white.

 

“The gift category continues to be strong in general,” says Jeff Kaufman, president and chief operating officer at Avanti Linens. “There is interest in general retail and in pet stores, and it continues to be something that is an add-on business.”

 

There is also a Dogs on Parade shower curtain, with several different dog breeds together. The items are a great way for retailers to get into the human gift category with just a few SKUs. “For those retailers that have figured out how to present it and get it in front of their customers, it has been a great item,” Kaufman says. “And it’s different. You have leashes and collars, but if you think about it, for the pet owner there is not a tremendous amount of gifts.”

 

Cats don’t ask for much, but their owners want to show their love by buying them something cute. That includes apparel, which has long been a fun item for dog owners to buy. “Believe it or not, cat costumes for both Halloween and the holidays are just as popular as dog costumes,” says Kayti Miller, business manager for Hong Kong City Toys. “It is not necessarily a new trend per se, but it continues to grow, year after year. Although most people will not trick or treat with their cat, they like to dress them up for photo opportunities.”

 

Apparel has been growing as a category, Miller says, especially during fourth quarter. Buying a costume helps pet parents celebrate the holidays with their furry loved ones, so retailers should offer a selection of clothing that would work for the different personalities of both pet parents and pets.

 

“Some pets won’t tolerate a full costume, or headwear, but they will tolerate easy-to-wear sweaters, neck ruffs or collar charms,” Miller says. “Some pet parents don’t want to spend a lot of money on apparel, but may want to take a fun photo.”

 

Retailers also have to consider the climate. For example, pajamas are good in cold climates, and also in warm climates where humans tend to turn on the air conditioning. “The more ways to satisfy not only the owner, but the pet, means repeat business,” says Miller.

 

Of course, what cats really want is catnip. Kansas City, Mo.-based Meowijuana offers leaf and flake catnip products in colorful packaging. New products include the Whisker Tickler blend of Meowijuana catnip, chamomile and dandelion, which the company calls “a trifecta of tranquility for cats to really mellow out,” and Lavender & Passion Flower, or “Mice Dreams.”

 

“It’s pretty safe to assume that there’s no one in the free world that doesn't get some satisfaction from a great gift,” says Marc A. Adams, chief of business development. “Gifts are what stir up that inner joy, like a good laugh from a great joke.”

 

Adams adds that it’s important for retailers to carry gifts because gifts bring variety to the customer experience, an important factor in building repeat business.

 

“While some trips to the store can be mundane, the idea of picking up a gift that’s something meaningful or is just plain fun for someone on their mind—including their pets—is a great feeling for the shopper,” he says. “Those moments can go a long way in complementing the brand of the retailer as well, which is why consumers come back.” PB

 

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