For small animal owners, quality bedding and litter products can make all the difference between enjoying time with their little furry friend and spending all that time cleaning up after them. Especially as many pet owners have spent more time than usual in their homes in the past year, the importance of dust-free, easy-to-clean bedding and litter products that control odors effectively has become all the more apparent.
Today’s small pet owners are increasingly informed about product purchases and are looking for natural options that are best for them and their pet’s quality of life. Daun Imperatore, sales and operations for ComfyCritter, a family-owned business based in Pennsylvania, has seen growth in interest in natural, sustainable and wellness-focused products in this category.
“Due to the pandemic, with people spending more time at home and therefore spending more time with their pets, we have seen a demand for products that are made without chemicals or additives and are healthier for both the pet and the environment,” Imperatore says. “The humanizing of pets continues to grow as a segment with attention to the specific goal to help them live the longest, healthiest and best life possible.”
As has been seen for some time with bedding and litter, as well as in many other product categories, pet owners are increasingly seeking out solutions that are good for the planet as well. Especially as bedding and litter are disposed of and replaced on a frequent basis, customers may be especially concerned about finding a sustainable option when shopping in this category.
“With a universal emphasis on sustainability, there is a desire for products that won’t harm the environment,” Imperatore adds. “Biodegradable products are almost a must have.”
Know Your Source
To ensure the small animal litter and bedding products they’re stocking in store are the best possible options, retailers should ensure they’re working with reliable, helpful suppliers who can give them all the information they need about how and where their products are made. Pet owners who are interested in biodegradable products will likely also want to know more about manufacturing and materials, ensuring their purchases are sustainably produced as well.
“Transparency is critical when choosing what products they are buying for their business, Imperatore says. “They should know where the ingredients or products come from, the manufacturing processes in place, as well as making sure if they have any questions, they are able to get them answered quickly and efficiently. Product sourcing and quality assurance should always be key when sourcing bedding or litter products.”
When considering manufacturer partners in this category, retailers should inquire about their practices up front, finding out all they may need to know about the materials used, where the product is made and packaged, and how consistent quality is ensured.
“We disclose our processes, product sourcing and quality assurance practices since transparency is the best policy and we pride ourselves on our quality control,” Imperatore says.
Litter and bedding can be a challenging category to merchandise, with bulky packaging that doesn’t lend itself to cute displays. But this makes it even more important for retailers to take a thoughtful approach, and find ways to make it easier for customers to peruse the options and find the best one for them.
“We encourage our retailers to keep a sample the consumer can touch and feel as well,” Imperatore says. “They are always surprised at how soft our bedding is, since we take straw in its natural state, which is not very soft or absorbent, and process it without any added chemicals, and it becomes this soft, dust-free, highly absorbent product.”
Finding products with informative packaging that clearly displays what the bedding or litter is made from and other key details is also helpful. Imperatore says ComfyCritter has found most consumers will look for this information themselves, so they have designed easy-to-read bags that are also attractive on the shelf.
“Humans are highly visual in nature, so we personally focused on a bag that was both unique and clearly stood out,” Imperatore says. “We did not use the standard photographed rabbit or guinea pig, but created a packaging that you are able to see the product through, as well as made it soft and visually stimulating, highlighting that it is dust-free, chemical-free, 100 percent green, earth friendly and a healthier option for both people and pets.”
Some bedding and litter products are suitable for use with multiple species outside of the typical small animal pets, so retailers may consider displaying these items in a few locations around the store to maximize the potential for sales. Any opportunity a retailer has to showcase the product in use, such as if they have live animals in the store, or make it accessible for customers to examine up close outside the packaging is also helpful.
“Since our bedding can be used for a variety of different pets, we encourage them to display our bedding in the reptile aisle as well as in the aisles for small animals and birds,” Imperatore says. “Additionally, anytime a retailer can display a bedding product in their cases with live animals or have samples for customers to touch, it is a win-win for both the consumer and the retailer.”
There are numerous options on the market in the small animal bedding and litter category, so it is up to the retailers to provide a range of high quality options that meet the needs and preferences of their small animal customers and their owners.
As a product that can have a significant impact on the pet’s quality of life and the owner’s experience in caring for the pet, helping a customer find the right option can build invaluable trust and loyalty, bringing them back in store for more small pet products. PB