Spa Products for Dogs
Offering spa products to pet owners isn’t just a matter of stocking products intended to create a spa experience for pets or even which ones to offer.
It’s human nature to want the best, hence the nearly universal appeal of spa services and products for pets. But how is “the best” determined? Is it high-end products? Natural or organic solutions? Are they expensive? Effective?
Depending on the customer, the answer could be all of the above, and possibly even more. To successfully sell spa products, retailers have to understand their customer’s mindset and their particular region.
Rural areas have higher quantities of sporting breeds and hounds, often with short coats kept in simple trims. Owners of these breeds will likely opt for fresh-smelling, deep-cleaning products for their pet’s spa experience. In this case, it’s best to sell on the premise of problem solving—or preventing.
Urban dogs are typically smaller and better suited to the city environment. Their owners are likely to take more pride in their pet’s appearance and treat them as a family member, meaning there’s a strong willingness to put a lot of money into pampering. They’ll be seeking out higher-end products to solve skin and appearance issues.
Suburban pet owners can be a bit tricky, as they can be any combination of the above. To accommodate the miscellaneous needs of this area, retailers should be catering to both ends of the spa spectrum.
There are several trends providing retailers with opportunities for growth in this industry, explains Tony de Vos, president of Azusa, Calif.-based Cardinal Pet Care, including frequent bathing, a focus on overall health, and interest in how ingredients are sourced and where they’re made.
The belief that frequent bathing will dry out a dog’s skin and coat is faltering as veterinarians recommend weekly baths to combat allergy issues and clear up skin conditions. But weekly trips to a professional groomer are just not feasible—they’ll quickly put a dent in consumers’ wallets.
That’s why pet parents are opting to give their dogs fill-in baths to keep them looking and smelling great in-between visits to their groomer, says de Vos, explaining that as dogs are welcomed into beds, onto sofas and just generally living in closer proximity to their human companions, consumers want to keep them clean.
The notion of cleanliness and a spa experience extends beyond just washing, as more pet owners are trimming nails, cleaning ears and providing dental care at home. Brand loyalty comes into play as consumers are more likely to purchase a new product from a company they already trust.
“Spa lines that include products geared toward these expanded procedures offer retailers the potential to make larger-ticket sales,” says de Vos.
This concept of brand blocking is an effective sales strategy, agrees James Brandly, associate trade marketing manager for Tropiclean. Grouping items by brand helps customers become aware of different products they may not have known their favorite company offered.
There’s three ways to market these products: by fragrance, function or category. Grooming products that contain natural ingredients can be placed in a section with organic food and treats, while higher-end spa-like items can be placed in a boutique section along with stylish clothing, leashes, collars and carriers.
In terms of promotion, retailers should be appealing to the senses.
“Spa is all about creating an immersive experience that pulls on sight, smell and touch,” explains Julie Creed, vice president of Pure and Naturals Pet, based in Ardsley, N.Y. “Have demonstrations on specific products in-store for customers to test. Aromatherapy will help sell. Highlight key scents, lavender, citrus, etc., and display with the appropriate props.”
To promote customer interaction with products, set up designated tester sprays and scent cards. Rotating products seasonally and featuring different aromas will keep interest high, explains Dave Campanella, sales and marketing director for Best Shot Pet Products. He continues that merchandising a window or endcap with sponges, towels, stones and/or candles can further set the mood and intrigue the customer.
In general, consumers are looking for sustainable, natural products with high-quality ingredients. Retailers should keep consumers’ eco-friendly desires in mind when selecting spa products and choosing POP material.
A product that’s gaining popularity—and is prominently featured in Cardinal’s EcoBath Line—is Manuka honey from New Zealand. It’s a popular ingredient in human shampoos and skin treatments that’s working its way into the pet industry, thanks to its healing and revitalizing properties.
When it comes to promoting eco-friendly products, retailers should take some time and look into partnership options.
“Organizations, like the Pet Sustainability Coalition, have created partnerships with manufacturers, distributors and now retailers to help communicate this message,” explains de Vos, pointing out that capitalizing on the sustainability trend positively influences a retailer’s bottom line. A Nielson study that found 66 percent of all consumers—and 73 percent of millennials—are willing to pay more for sustainable goods.
Retailers should rely on their manufacturers as sources of information. Educating sales staff on spa products and their benefits will help sales, as can utilizing POP materials.
“According to a survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers, 62 percent of shoppers said friendly and/or knowledgeable employees ranked as the most important aspects of in-store service,” says Brandly. “According to studies performed by the Point of Purchase Association International, customers are making up to 82 percent of their buying decisions in-store.”
Combining an employee’s knowledge with in-store marketing methods is sure to shed even more light on the grooming section, as counter displays and endcaps provide education while attracting attention. With this in mind, Wentzville, Mo.-based TropiClean offers a 48 piece between-bath floor display, a 30 piece shampoo display and a 15 piece pet spray display.
When it comes to creating or purchasing endcaps, each should be dedicated to a specific need, whether it’s skin issues, ear care, eye care or facials. Retailers have to keep in mind that, “presentation is everything,” says Joel Weinstein, vice president of marketing and sales at Bass Brushes. He believes the key to marketing spa products is focusing on and highlighting the general health, wellness and relationship-building aspects.
In terms of educational materials, manufacturers can provide training webinars, point of purchase displays, shelf talkers and product data sheets to educate pet owners and store employees. Creed explains that Pure and Natural Pet offers education opportunities that go beyond simple data sheets, such as hosting social posts, web banners and fliers for retailers to access within the web portal.
For its part, Cardinal can provide customized material to help educate store staff and shoppers, included personalized POP displays and signage that fit the look and feel of the store.
BioGroom has various displays to showcase its made in the U.S., cruelty-free line of shampoos featuring natural ingredients; while Glo-Marr offers private labeling of products. After all, what’s better than promoting your own trusted line of spa products?
This simple category can see big success if retailers can identify what will appeal to the regional demographic, display it in an eye-catching way and be a beacon of information for curious customers. A little bit of effort, research and merchandising can go a long way. PB