FOR FLEA AND TICK
Manufacturers and retailers both have an interest in educating
their customers about their products, particularly because this
is a category with so many options.
“Educating customers in a quick, convenient way is key,”
said Cindy Wenger, president of Peaceable Kingdom Essentials
in Hershey, Pa. “People are busy and want everything at their
fingertips, and they don’t have the time or desire to spend on
researching products. We offer quick, easy-to-learn info on our
brochures and website.”
This information includes a product knowledge guide,
which lists and explains the health benefits of the ingredients
used in the company’s products to help store staff pass along
that information to the customers, as well as customer bro-
chures that answer further questions they might have about
the products, Wenger said.
“There are many different types of solutions available, and all
seem to use a different mix of ingredients, from all natural to neu-
rotoxins and everything in between,” said Joe Zuccarello, director
of innovation for TropiClean in Wentzville, Mo. “These ingredients
typically are not very familiar to the pet parent, so it is highly
recommended that the retailer fully understand these ingredients,
their pluses and minuses, and how they can recommend the
perfect solution for the pet parent’s situation.”
Customers need to know exactly what they are purchas-
ing and know the alternatives, said Philippe Chelle, CEO of AB7
America in Weston, Fla. However, he said it is challenging to
provide this information, as much of it is complex.
“Most of the time, it is not read or appropriately displayed
by the retailers or even unused,” he said. “The most effective
thing would be to do some research online in order to gain a
deep knowledge on the different alternatives.
“It is very difficult to convey all this knowledge in in-store
educational material,” he added. “The retailer has to become
an expert, be clear in his product strategy, avoid carrying all
the brands to avoid confusion, educate his customers and
encourage consumer to educate themselves online.”
At Premier Pet Supply in Beverly Hills, Mich., education
primarily comes in the form of one-on-one conversations with
customers. Though brochures from manufacturers are appreci-
ated, merchandising manager Samantha Henson said that these
sometimes get lost in the shuffle and are hard to display.
“We prefer it when companies send signs that fit in the
set nicely and provide information to the customer,” she said.
Petagogy in Pittsburgh displays endcaps from some manufacturers, but the store also educates customers in its own way, such
as via regular blog and social media posts as well as through newsletters. Staff member are taught to know the differences between all
of the products in the store, said co-owner Heather Blum.
FLEA AND TICK
PRODUCT DISPLAY TIPS
Retailers can use signage, shelf danglers, framed benefits and
information sheets, along with a display unit containing product
information, said Bobbi Panter, creator and president of Bobbi
Panter Pet Products in Chicago.
“A display table during flea and tick season, with proper
signage (words/pictures), would be helpful to highlight flea
and tick products,” said Cindy Wenger, president of Peaceable
Kingdom Essentials in Hershey, Pa.
Good signage is key at Premier Pet Supply in Beverly Hills,
Mich., along with neatness, said merchandising manager
“Stock topicals with topicals, flea collars with flea collars, etc.,
DON’T SHY AWAY FROM THE PLETHORA OF TECHNOLOGY
for an easy-to-navigate set,” she said. “Customers want easy.”
Regardless of where these products are displayed, they
should be placed prominently so customers can see them when
they are shopping for dog food, said Heather Blum, co-owner of
Petagogy in Pittsburgh.
THAT PROMISES TO SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE AND IMPROVE
Small retailers often can’t compete with big chains on price, so they aim at better, individualized service. Some new-ish technology, specifically designed to boost smaller
companies’ convenience, service and sales factors, can help. Plus, it’s easier for small
retailers to implement technology faster than many big retailers because they’re not
operating tons of stores.
• Belly: This digital loyalty program launched in 2011 lets shoppers accumulate
rewards points at thousands of small businesses. “Belly is a universal loyalty program
that offers one-of-a-kind rewards at the businesses you love, replacing boring ‘Buy 10,
Get 1 Free’ punch cards with free stuff you actually want. Belly members scan their
BellyCard or app at the in-store tablet, earning points that are redeemable for rewards
unique to each Belly business,” according to bellycard.com. Belly connects more than
12‚000 businesses with more than 6 million members across the U.S.
• Dolly: Helps retailers arrange for merchandise to be picked up from a store and
quickly delivered to a customer, saving the shopper from lugging home big packages.
“Load, haul and deliver just about anything! Easy. Affordable. Whenever you need it,”
according to dolly.com. Tell Dolly what, where and when you need help; a back-ground-checked, reliable truck owner will deliver the goods; and all payment is done
through the app—there is no cash transaction.
• Reflektion: Software that touts real-time customer individualization. According
to its website, reflection.com: “Engagement increases by 70 percent and conversion rates lift by an average of 26 percent for Reflektion clients. These results are
consistently delivered because Reflektion focuses on individual shopping behavior
rather than the broad-based segments that first-generation personalization platforms
• Individualized texts to customers: Tara Mikolay, a jeweler in Chappaqua, N. Y., tailors
each text to a particular customer, sending reminders to husbands about their wives’
upcoming birthdays and including photos with suggestions about what they might buy.
She texts female customers with photos of new merchandise that fits their style. While
individual texts are labor intensive, they’re more effective than mass texting would be,
Mikolay said. Even when a customer doesn’t immediately make a purchase, they’re likely
to buy when the next big occasion like an anniversary comes around.
“I could place a full-page ad in a newspaper, but my chances for making a sale
are next to none,” she said. “But I spend time manually doing texting and get great
results. It’s a no-brainer.”
TECH IS YOUR FRIEND
FOCUS SHIFT FOR RETAILERS
To meet the needs of gen Y,
Hatch-Rizzi reported seeing retailers move toward larger cat-focused sections, though many still
are in the back of the store.
“Retailers are developing
fresh and creative ways to bring
attention to their smaller cat
section,” she said. “As cats are
being regarded as family mem-
bers and being more on par with
dogs, retailers are growing their
cat sections into trendy, exciting
areas with cutting-edge products
that are appealing to a new gen-
eration of shoppers in general. I
think the shopping experience
needs to be very user friendly,
and the staff really needs to be
educated on the products they’re
selling. Millennials want to be
engaged and have their shop-
ping experiences also be learn-
ing experiences. They want to
see what’s new and really want
a focus on what is healthful, nur-
turing and will enhance their
cats’ lives and health.”
Parkers’ Pottenger said she is
“increasing the product mix of
cat supplies we carry and trying
to make it more experiential—
letting [customers] touch the
toys, play with them and
get a feel for what their
cat would experience.
[We’re] also doing more
education on cat health
TIME TO STEP IT UP
Bob Vetere, president
and CEO of the American Pet Products Association in Greenwich,
Conn., said he has yet
to see cat food and treat
manufacturers do anything different to capitalize on the newly targeted trend.
“I’m anxious to see at our show
what people start putting out,” he
said, referring to Global Pet Expo,
which takes place this month in
Orlando, Fla. “Traditionally man-
ufacturers focus on dog foods,
with cat foods on the side. It will
be interesting to see if more cat
foods and upfront visible cat prod-
ucts show up in the booths.”
With her company’s up-
coming manufacturing location
move, Sher said, “Our dedicated
[food manufacturing] lines will
be more on cat food than dog.
In the last three months, even,
we’ve ordered more items for
the cat food. We’re dedicating a
production line to cat food—all
day long—for small cans.”
Pet industry insiders all
agreed that nothing but good
can come from a greater focus
on cats as pets.
“It’s also becoming much more
common—and accepted—for sin-
gle men to own cats,” Hatch-Rizzi
said. “As the ‘cats aren’t mascu-
falls away, es-
generation, it’s now actually so-
cially acceptable to be that ‘crazy
With so many cat/dog inter-
action studies out there, Vetere
said cats are being recognized
for more benefits than before,
and more studies will be done.
“Cats are sensitive to illnesses and disabilities that people
have, and they are a more positive force for humans,” he said.
“It’s good for humans to have
a cat, even beyond what you
think they’re good for. If you get
enough people to focus on and
treat the cat population the way
dogs are treated, you can start
cutting into the feral cat population. People start to feel for
those pets abandoned to breed
and multiply, they pay more attention to them and spay/neuter
them, which can be a huge help.
“It bears watching over the
next year or so, to see if the
trends have real stamina to them
or are just blips,” he added. n
Cats Rule With