Educating cat owners appears to be a challenge for many retailers. Ryan Oaks, owner
of Mini-Critters in Sioux Falls, SD., said this is because cat owners tend to dislike
change. He has found that many cat owners who come into his store want to stick
with products they’ve always used. As a result, they might even fail to notice when
their cat has a health concern that might alter those product needs.
“Cats are not as simple as people like to think,” Oaks said. “They have health
issues just like dogs, but the challenge is educating the owner about it when they
don’t really want to make changes. Sometimes we just have to be persistent. Cat
health issues aren’t always as obvious as they are with dogs, but the signs are there,
and the owners need to be educated on what to look for.”
Darrell Perkins, co-owner of Fin & Feather Pet Center in Richmond, Va., agreed.
“I could literally be giving out free product and cat owners will refuse it because
they tend to get stuck in their ways,” Perkins said. “Educating the customer is a big
challenge, but it’s important to find ways to reach the customer. For us, it’s often
about asking questions.”
Gina Zaro, marketing director for Dr. Elsey’s Cat Products in Englewood, Colo.,
said that opening the line of communication by asking questions is the best ap-
proach. If a consumer comes in looking for an odor-removal product, for instance, the
retailer can then ask whether the cat is not using the litterbox. Once a conversation
gets started, it is easier to make product suggestions.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST TIP FOR EDUCATING THE HARD-TO-REACH CAT OWNER?
“Cat people need—and even want—to be educated. They just don’t
know it! Cat people are a bit like their cats—they don’t like change,
and they like things to be simple and easy. However, once they understand that their cats’ health needs may be more complex than they
thought, they may be more willing to listen to alternative solutions
to what they’re doing. We tend to treat cats differently than dogs,
assuming they don’t need as much care, and that really shouldn’t be
the case.”—RYAN OAKS, ownerof Mini-Critters in Sioux Falls, S.D.
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