Consumers are turning to independent pet retailers for answers
to flea and tick concerns.
BY LINDSEY GETZ
Pet owners have some very specific criteria in mind when they are shop- ping for flea and tick control products. They want products that are safe, effective, convenient and fast. It’s a tall order. As a result, successful pet
specialty retailers must carry an assortment of products.
“If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there is no one-size-fits-all solu-
tion,” said Mike McCutcheon, owner of H3 Pet Supply in Stratford, Conn. “It
always depends on the animal. Think of it this way. You have 20 people that
have a cough and all of them start [using] an over-the-counter cough medi-
cine. You’ll hear that it worked for some and not for others. With flea and tick
control products, I’ve seen every brand be successful and every brand fail and
be returned. I’ve learned it just depends on the animal.”
Brook Bickford, owner of Gone to the Dogs Boutique & Grooming in St.
Pete Beach, Fla., said that in Florida’s climate, where fleas thrive year-round,
customers are very concerned about finding products that work. Because the
retail shop also includes grooming services, he finds some successful cross-
over between the two.
“We often find fleas on dogs that the homeowner didn’t even realize were
there,” Bickford said. “Of course, they want to take care of it right away. We
talk to customers about also checking their carpets and their homes.”
While there’s no question that pet owners want fleas and ticks handled
swiftly and effectively, they are also concerned about their pets’ safety. To that
effect, more pet owners are interested in products that are perceived as safer.
“Pet parents are seeking products that are natural and, on top of that, prod-
ucts that are effective,” said James Brandly, content writer and public relations
manager for TropiClean in Wentzville, Mo. “TropiClean created easy-to-use,
natural solutions that provide complete protection for the pet, the home and
Vicki Rae Thorne, certified aromatherapist and herbalist, and founder and
owner of Earth Heart in Dundee, Ill., added that customers are looking for bo-
tanical-based products that are made in the USA and are safe and easy to use.
“They also want to trust that the botanicals—such as essential oils of citronella or geranium and neem seed oil—have proven track records for repelling
fleas and ticks and won’t be toxic to their pets,” she added. “Consumers want
to learn about alternatives.”
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One of the hurdles for independent pet retailers to overcome is
misinformation. For example, a lot of consumers think they can only
buy flea and tick control products at the veterinarian office. Laura
Gustafson, store manager at H3 Pet Supply in Stratford, Conn., said
that she finds customers are often surprised to see that the store
carries certain flea and tick products.
For pet owners, shopping at independent retail locations offers
a lot of benefits, said Sarah Batterson, director of marketing for
H&C Animal Health in Parker, Colo., and retailers should take the
opportunity to promote these products.
“Independent retail stores offer the convenience of a one-stop
shop,” said Batterson, whose company is rolling out a single pack
of its Catego for Cats flea and tick product this spring. “You can buy
your flea and tick products in the same place that you buy your pets’
food and other supplies. Retailers should cross-promote with other
categories to further incent shoppers to buy everything they need for
their furry friend at the store. Plus, no appointment necessary.”
“Customers often come in just to see what we have,” Monk said.
“They like that we have a lot of different options so that they can find
something that works best for them.”
While promoting flea and tick control products in-store, retailers
should emphasize that product safety is not just important for the
pet—but for the customer, too, said James Brandly, content writer
and public relations manager for TropiClean in Wentzville, Mo. After
all, many pet owners let their pets share their bed.
“Pet parents want to provide relief and protection for their pets,
but they also want to find safe solutions that will achieve that,”
Pet owners want flea and tick
control products that are safe
and effective. As a result, many
are seeking natural solutions.