Selling spa products for pets is not a new idea, but it is an idea whose time is now.
The pet industry, with its usual habit of following what’s selling in the human world, has released line after line of shampoos, conditioners and luxurious grooming items aimed at clients that love to pamper their pets. And with so many pet parents devoted to giving their furry companions that spa experience, there are ample opportunities for the savvy retailer to cater to this growing consumer demand.
Pretty much anything found at a high-end human spa has a comparable counterpart on the pet market. From hair products and nail polish to mud baths and aromatherapy candles, manufacturers are offering pet owners an array of products meant to indulge pets with a spa experience in their own homes. Retailers need only to present the right product mix in visually appealing ways to tap into this burgeoning market.
I recall being amazed and intrigued at Groom Expo in the 1980s by Tropiclean’s display of bright, primary- colored, pearlescent shampoos in faux-crystal wineglasses. I just had to pick them up and smell them—and we all know that once a product is in a customer’s hands, the sale is more than halfway made. Retailers should tempt their clients in a similar way, by arranging spa products appealingly.
According to Brian Collier, creative marketing and public relations coordinator at Tropiclean, retailers that sell spa products need to key in on experiential marketing and what that spa experience means by providing it to the customer right in the store. For example, use loofahs or other spa-oriented items in an island of products to set them apart from everyday grooming items.
The right mood is also vital to capturing your customer’s eye—and pocketbook. Create a designated merchandising area that conveys the spa image, and keep in mind that bathing products are not the only ones that are a good fit.
Perhaps, display a book on pet massage with a few smooth river rocks and a candle or two for ambience on a wooden table in a quaint corner of the store. Pipe pet-friendly music through the speakers, and set out an assortment of interesting items, such as Rescue Remedy, Bach Flower Remedies, a Comfort Zone Diffuser and a tin of Opie & Dixie Healing Paw Balm. Try displaying a package of Warren London’s Deep Cleaning Paw Fizz Tablets in a ceramic basin draped with a microfiber towel, and of course, a shampoo and conditioner pairing.
Don’t stop there—what else might be found in a high-end spa? Products that simplify nail care for pet owners can be part of your spa offering with QuickFinder nail trimmers, which signal when the quick is neared, and grinders to smooth and shape nails. The assortment can also include nail caps, various appliqués and, of course, polish.
Know Your Stuff
No matter how successful your display customers will have questions about the products. For this reason, says Eric Bittman, owner of Warren London dog spa and grooming products, it is important that retailers educate their sales staff. “Every retailer should study what ingredients are in a product, and why it is beneficial to the dog,” he says.
Manufacturers themselves can be helpful in supplying necessary information to retail staff. For example, Warren London—whose product portfolio runs the gamut from hydrating leave-in conditioning butter to nail-polish pens—provides sell sheets for all its products that call out important features, such as the human-grade ingredients and the fact that they are mostly U.S. sourced. This is all information that can be important to purchasers.
However, Donna Walker, proprietor of South Bark self-serve dog wash in San Diego, says that not only do retailers need to be educated about the products they sell, they need to believe in them. “You have to have excitement about selling, good products, an educated team and good customer service,” says Walker, who also invented the South Bark Original Blueberry Facial, a mild, tearless, aromatherapeutic shampoo designed for cats and dogs.
Retailers should also remember to stay on top of the latest trends in the spa product segment, and working with distributors is one way to do that.
Sandy Gyorgyi, owner of Show Season Animal Products, is the distributor east of the Mississippi for South Bark Blueberry Facial Scrub. Show Season also carries pet chalks to put a dab of color or a Mohawk on a pet, canine massage lotion and oils, Pup Feathers to attach to hair for a fashion statement, calming sprays, foaming face washes and sparkle sprays, as well as a large number of bathing products.
There is a universe of pampering treatments out there—the key to growing the category in retail may be as simple as finding the right selection of products for the clientele and then merchandising them in a tantalizing way.
Carol Visser is a Nationally Certified Master Groomer and Certified Pet Dog Trainer. Formerly a pet product expert for PetEdge, she and her husband Glenn now own Two Canines Pet Services in Montville, Maine, which provides grooming, boarding, training and day care services to Waldo County.