Green Clippings

One of the hardest parts of being the editor of a trade magazine like Pet Business is dealing with space constraints. Every month, a variety of sources from up and down the pet product supply chain generously donate their time and energy to provide us with valuable input for use in our articles. But unfortunately, in an effort to provide as well-rounded a perspective from as many sources as possible, we inevitably end up having to leave some great quotes out of a story.

Such was the case when I was working on the cover story for our annual Guide to Natural Products, which is being published with the July issue of Pet Business magazine. Armed with a plethora of great comments from eight industry-leading vendors in the natural products category, but facing a limited word count for the article, I had no choice but to exclude some real gems. With that said, below are three notable responses that I received from pet product manufacturers while researching the story—responses that, for better or worse, didn’t make it into the finished article.

Stay tuned for more excellent quotes that I simply didn’t have room to include in my cover story, and watch for our annual Guide to Natural Products, which Pet Business subscribers should be receiving in a matter of days.

Pet Business: What are some common mistakes that you have seen pet retailers make in selling natural products?

Natural products have come a long way over the years form a performance aspect; some even function better than the non-natural traditional products. Retailers need to understand that consumers don’t have to forfeit performance with natural products. They need to make sure to carry truly natural products—products that are made from renewable resources.

— Jean Broders, brand manager at World’s Best Cat Litter.

Pet Business: How much has the customer base for natural products grown over the past five years? In addition to growing, how has the customer base evolved—in terms of their tastes and knowledge?

This is a difficult question to answer with exact numbers across the entire pet industry, but one can be sure that the market for natural products is stronger than it has ever been before. If that is any token as a barometer for natural products in the pet industry, our company—a leader in natural pet products—has seen growth of 20 to 30 percent year-over-year for the past five years.

Our consumer base, like any other, continues to evolve with time. We have a more educated consumer than the world has ever experienced. Largely, this is due to access of information on the Internet, advertising, marketing strategies and product awareness by consumers. Likely due to the humanization of pets, natural choices have become more and more top of mind with consumers. This certainly has influenced the taste of our current consumer. 

— Brian Collier, creative marketing and public relations coordinator at Tropiclean.

Pet Business: What do you think are the key elements of creating a "natural" pet store?

Education is key. Retailers should not be dismissive of alternative approaches to nutrition until they have all the facts. Offering books and reference materials to customers may not be right for all, but it certainly enhances the store's reputation as a source of good information. Books like Feed Your Pet Right by Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim can provide those new to animal nutrition with the fundaments they need to make sound choices. It is important to tell consumers why you carry the brands of food you have on your shelves, and you should point out benefits or any concerns that may go with a particular brand. 

     — Leonard Powell, president and founder of Hi-Tek Rations.