Everyone deserves a spa day—even pets. With high-quality, natural products on the shelf, retailers can help owners keep their pets safe, happy and clean.
Who wouldn’t love a little pampering after a long day of playing fetch, rolling in dirt or chasing their own tail? Thanks to innovations in the pet industry, owners can dote their four-legged companions by grooming them with a wider variety of high-quality products than ever before.
“Pets are a part of our family, and we look to our pets as another child or loved one,” says James Bradley, marketing coordinator for Wentzville, Mo.-based TropiClean Pet Products. “Each trend and change comes from the humanization of our pets. We want the very best products, just as we do for our family.”
This humanization trend is most apparent in the increase in demand for natural spa products. Today, pet parents want to know exactly what ingredients are in the shampoos, conditioners and other grooming products used on their furry loved ones.
“Once the bottle is in the pet parent’s hand, they’re looking for easy-to-read ingredients that they understand,” says Bradley. “For example, TropiClean recently redesigned our line of shampoo to reflect our tropical roots, showcasing our ingredients on the bottle while continuing to offer natural products with ingredients they don’t have to Google.”
TropiClean offers a wide range of pet grooming products made with natural ingredients, including shampoos, conditioners and sprays. One of their newest releases is a line of waterless shampoos. Made with ingredients like purified water, mild cleanser, odor neutralizer and organic extracts, these shampoos keep pets fresh and clean in between baths. There are even varieties made especially for fickle felines who hate bath time.
Domestically produced products are also high on the pet parent wish list, according to Eric Bittman, CEO and president of New City, N.Y.-based Warren London, maker of all-natural dog spa and grooming products.
“There are many issues that we have seen in the news about imported products, so knowing the ingredients are natural and made in USA gives the pet owners some confidence in the product,” says Bittman. “Warren London uses all-natural ingredients and makes everything in the USA—and, surprisingly, we are one of only a few companies that list all ingredients on all of our labels.”
Bittman also suggests expanding the pet groom experience beyond traditional shampoos and conditioners in order to increase appeal to customers looking to pamper their pets. “Any pet shop can and will have a dog shampoo, but [professional] groomers should ask how they can separate themselves from the rest of their competition,” says Bittman. “Being innovative by offering many great add-on services that will pamper their pups is one way to get ahead.”
Warren London, for example, offers everything from Exfoliating Butter Wash to Cucumber Melon Foaming Facial for Dogs. It even helps pet parents to add a splash of color to their furry friend’s look with Dog Polish Pens and Critter Color, a temporary fur dye that is safe for animals.
Other recent additions to the grooming aisle include freshening sprays and colognes. “Colognes are really huge right now, and we have two great ones—Gorgeous Dog Cologne and Moisturizing Dog Cologne,” says Bobbi Panter, founder of the eponymous Chicago-based pet product company.
Experts agree that the key to success in this category for retailers is knowledge. Between the number of new products and a health-conscious public, retailers need to be able to provide smart, effective solutions to pet parents’ problems.
“Educating the sales team is the most important step to marketing and selling the products,” says Bittman. “Warren London has sell sheets and catalogs that we request storeowners look through and educate any employees to make sure they know about our company and products.”
If staff members know what’s on the shelf, they’re better able to answer customer questions and concerns. Bradley encourages retailers to have sales associates try out products, read labels and understand differences between items in order to best serve customers. Employees should know if a product is tear-free or all-natural, if it was made in the USA and if there are any potential allergens in the ingredient list. They should also be able to advise pet owners on how to use different products. New products, for example, should be tested on a pet’s leg first, in case they have an allergic reaction.
To stay informed, be sure to utilize manufacturer-provided materials like sell sheets, brochures or online resources like TropiClean’s newly launched “Professional Portal.” Retailers can also get training directly from manufacturers about new products and best sales practices.
Another important part of sales is customer interactions. “Ask questions of the pet owner, like does your pet have dry skin? Do you have a longhaired pet or shorthaired? Do they shed? What issues is your pet having with their skin and fur?” suggests Panter. “Once you get information, you can match the customer with a product that will best serve their pet and the skin or fur issues they may or may not have.”
Plenty of pet spa products on the market today are solutions-based. In other words, they are formulated to address specific issues like dry, itchy skin, dull coats or odor. Bobbi Panter has a signature line of shampoos and sprays that are targeted at common problems including Itchy Dog Shampoo for flaky skin and Stinky Dog Shampoo that removes the toughest odors—even skunk spray.
Warren London also offers a wide variety of solutions-based products for pups. “One big issue Warren London took on was paw licking,” says Bittman. “We released a product called the Warren London Deep Cleaning Paw Fizz Tablets. You soak the dogs paws for up to five minutes and this natural White Tea Tree Oil will fight fungus, bacteria and yeast, and help to stop paw licking.”
The best way to get the most out of the pet spa category is by stocking a range of high-quality products from reputable brands. “Find a brand that you love because they are passionate about pets and their people. The pet spa category is a need, not a want,” says Bradley. “Once you find that brand, support it through signage and displays that invite customers to share your same passion for a product.”
Ultimately, if you’re able to trust that the products you put on the shelf are effective and high-quality, your customers will in turn trust you and keep coming back for all their pet-related needs.