Pet Gates, Pens & Crates
To pin down success in the containment category, retailers need to go the extra mile with selection, displays and education.
Back in the day, all pet parents had to do to secure their pet was close the backyard fence. Today, the world and pet ownership look a little different, which has resulted in major growth for pet containment.
“As people continue to inhabit apartments more and houses less, finding a safe space for pets to live and play is a bigger challenge than ever before,” explains Marie Huff, marketing director for North Plains, Ore.-based Jewett Cameron.
Today’s pet parents are looking for more than just a plastic baby-style gate or metal kennel. They want—and need—pet containment products that are fashionable, safe and functional for their modern lifestyles.
Gates and pens have become more than just a barrier; they’re fully integrated pieces of home furnishing.
“Pet parents are looking for pet gates, crates and pens that fit in seamlessly with their décor and personal style,” says Victoria Bouldin, vice president of operations for Primetime Petz. “Pet parent styles are as diverse as the pet parents out there, some loving more neutrals, others looking for a pop of color, some who desire a more modern look over traditional and vice versa.”
The Rockwall, Texas-based manufacturer was at the forefront of this trend all the way back in 2007, when “people were using plastic baby gates for their pets, and we knew there was a better way,” continues Bouldin.
Now, Primetime Petz produces a wide variety of gates to fit every pet owner’s personal taste and needs. The most popular collection is the 360 Configurable Gate Collection, which features elegant and versatile freestanding pet gates made of 100 percent solid, chew-resistant wood.
Most recently, the company added the Palm Springs Collection to its list of offerings. The sleek white gates are reminiscent of mid-century modern architecture, a great complement to a contemporary style home.
In addition to matching their home décor, pet parents also want products that are easy to use and fit into their busy, modern lifestyles.
“The products offered for pets can no longer be an afterthought; pet parents want fashionable and multifunctional pieces,” says Noriko H. Scott, marketing manager for Richell USA, Inc.
The Grand Prairie, Texas-based company’s new One-Touch Metal Mesh Pet Gate blends utility with beauty. The gate allows users to easily open the door in either direction with just one hand, thanks to its innovative single button, easy-lifting door handle. It also features a tension-mount design that won’t damage walls, as well as an elegant mesh screen.
Other manufacturers, like Advantek, are catering to on-the-go pet owners by creating travel-friendly containment products.
“Advantek sets itself apart from the pet containment community by offering a solution that is ‘Indoor, Outdoor, and On The Go,’” says Joe Pomerantz, founder and CEO. “We offer safety and security without looking like a jail cell.”
The Moorpark, Calif.-based company’s signature Pet Gazebo is designed to let owners keep pets protected whether they’re in the backyard, on a picnic in the park or in the house. The unique hexagon design comes in three different sizes to accommodate all breeds and families with multiple pets. Accessories—like the Designer Market Canopy, Sun Shade and Tote Bag—allow owners to customize the product to fit their personal needs.
Just like every other part of our lives, the pet containment category has undergone a technological makeover. Plainfield, Ind.-based PetSafe, for instance, offers both in-ground and wireless electronic pet barriers.
“We don’t really offer physical solutions to keep your pet contained,” explains Ryan Hubbard, category manager for containment and avoidance. “Instead, we offer more tech-based solutions to keeping your dog secure within your home.”
Both products utilize transmitters that send radio signals to a receiver in the pet’s collar. When pets approach the boundaries of the yard, they’ll feel a vibration or hear a warning tone. If they cross the boundary, they’ll receive a mild “static correction,” aka a harmless tingling sensation to grab their attention.
“The upside of electronic barriers is that the pet parent can continue to have a seamless home without losing the security that they need. They can also pick and choose which pets can come and go,” says Hubbard.
Of course, containment solutions meant to protect your pet aren’t very useful if the products themselves aren’t safe. Retailers can help reassure owners by stocking products that don’t contain risks such as toxic paint, sharp edges or choking hazards.
One of owners’ biggest concerns, though, is that pets will be so anxious or unhappy in their enclosure that they will injure themselves trying to escape. Luckily, this fear can be laid to rest with patience, training and education, says Jeremy Alva, social media specialist for Jewett Cameron, creators of Lucky Dog.
“Retailers can familiarize themselves with crate training techniques … so that they can help arm their customers with the best practices to train their pet and avoid the stress of trial and error on their own,” advises Alva. “When it comes to buying items for their pets, consumers tend to favor retailers that understand their needs.”
Lucky Dog has a wide selection of kennels, including Euro-Style Enclosures, Travel Kennels and Welded Wire Kennels. All of the products are made with pets’ safety and comfort in mind, but still require proper training for optimal use.
A few training tips to share with your customers include:
• Make the kennel a positive space with favorite toys and comfy blankets.
• Don’t use the enclosure as a punishment.
• Start by keeping the gate open and incentivize use with treats.
• Avoid rewarding bad behavior, such as whining or scratching.
In addition to customer education, retailers can also help boost sales in the containment category through strategic merchandising. While not every store has an excess of floor space to work with, industry experts agree that this type of set-up is the best way to market pet containment products.
“The retailer has the advantage over their e-commerce competition because the customer can come into the store and literally get a feel for the products they are purchasing,” says Scott. “Let’s face it: Pictures don’t do every product justice and many online products look very similar.”
While this may seem like a lot of work in terms of time, money and physical store area, this category presents a big return potential.
“This category is a worthwhile investment for pet retailers because the margin that can be made by selling one pet gate is comparable to selling four or five bags of food,” says Marie Huff, marketing director for Jewett Cameron. “There is money for retailers to be made in this category. It is an item that pet parents need and should not be overlooked.” PB