MAKE MERCHANDISE POP
When it comes to merchandising, industry insiders said creativity and product
visibility are key.
Tim Fabits, vice president of sales for Long Beach, Calif.-based Redbarn Pet
Products, suggests featuring educational materials with displays of chews.
“Redbarn recommends using innovative displays, made from natural materials
like wood when possible, to help customers better see the product,” Fabits said.
Setting aside a space where products can shine also is a good strategy.
“Having a separate USA section or organizing the treats and chews by dog size
or protein type are effective ways to merchandise treats,” said Laura Jones Lang,
president of Jones Natural Chews in Rockford, Ill.
Samantha Henson, clinical pet nutritionist with Premier Pet Supply in Beverly
Hills, Mich., recommends placing treats in high-traffic areas so that customers will
pass them on their way to the food.
It also is important for retailers to merchandise treats in ways that make it
easy for shoppers to find what they are looking for. For example, Lori Fouts, vice
president of sales management at MiracleCorp in Dayton, Ohio, suggests displaying
treats by category to make it easier for the consumer due to the sheer volume of
choices on the shelves.
The best customers are the animals themselves, so TailsSpin Pet Food & Accessories, which has stores in Georgia, offers a treat and chew bar at the entrance, said
co-owner Jusak Yang Bernhard.
At Pussy & Pooch Pethouse and Pawbar, which has stores in Southern
California, bulk treats, chews and bones are displayed in candy-type jars, while
packaged treats are best merchandised by type or brand, said co-owner Janene
“We also regularly feature at least two different brands/treats for in-store
sampling, which has been a very effective ‘try it before you buy it’ sales technique,”
ABOUT THE DIFFERENCES
With so many new dog treat options popping up on retailers’ shelves, many consumers need extra guidance when
making purchasing decisions. Pet specialty retailers,
of course, are perfectly poised to be the resource that
pet owners are seeking. Thus, educating staff on how
products differ is essential.
“It is critical for consumers to understand the
difference between treats and supplements, especially
since there are increasing numbers of functional treats
that have low levels of active ingredients,” said Derek J.
Archambault, director of marketing for FoodScience Corp.
in Essex Junction, Vt. “It is important for consumers to
know that these functional treats don’t have the same
impact as supplements and, at the same time, that
supplements aren’t chewable treats which can be given
In order to make the best choices for the pets, shop-
pers must be able to identify the differences in the many
options available. Easy access to information is crucial.
“Smart manufacturers will put their most
important selling point information on the front of
the package,” said Lori Fouts, vice president of sales
management at MiracleCorp in Dayton, Ohio. “While its
important to look at the front of the packaging, manufacturers can choose what to leave out, as well, so, ultimately, what matters is what the ingredients list says.
Looking at the back of the package, at the ingredients, is
one of the best tips retailers can give a consumer.”
It also is key that consumers understand that not
all dogs chew in the same way, and this is something to
keep in mind when choosing treats for a pet.
“The more the consumer understands their dog’s
chewing habits, the better they will be at choosing the
right chew or treat for their dog,” said Laura Jones Lang,
president of Jones Natural Chews in Rockford, Ill. “Edu-
cating the customer on the different types of bones and
chews and which types of chewers will do best with that
particular chew is a huge benefit.”
At Premier Pet Supply in Beverly Hills, Mich., the staff
often talk to customers about how many treats a pet
should be eating and advise them on such matters as
supervising pets while eating a chew or at what age it is
appropriate to give certain chews. The more customers
know about which treats to choose and why, the better.