ATTENTION WITH GRAIN FREE
Similar to a wine display, placing highest-quality offerings together as “top shelf” will allow customers
to locate better products with less confusion, said
Lori Fouts, vice president of sales management for
Stewart Pet, a brand of MiracleCorp in Moraine, Ohio.
The tried-and-true practice of merchandising
similar products together in a specialty area is extremely effective, especially when
capitalizing on trends such as grain free, said Bette Schubert, co-founder and senior
vice president of sales for Bravo Pet Foods in Manchester, Conn.
“It’s a great way to educate consumers with questions, as the sales staff can speak
to several brands that might fit a customer’s particular need at once, and they’re all
within reach,” Schubert added.
The use of innovative, natural display materials, such as wood, can increase visibility
of grain-free foods. Setting up an endcap display featuring a revolving ‘product of the
month,’ or simply moving grain-free selections to the front of the store, along with adjacent educational materials, aids pet specialty retailers in grain-free tutelage and promotion, said Rashell Cooper, marketing director for Redbarn Pet Products in Long Beach, Calif.
At The Loyal Biscuit Co., which has stores in Maine, glass jars are utilized to contrast the amount of food needed for a 50-pound dog on a daily basis, said owner Heidi
“It’s a great visual,” Vanorse Neal said. “We use the healthful foods carried here in
the store and compare with a grocery store brand. Because the foods we carry are so
nutrient dense and contain more meat and less fillers, it’s a great way to demonstrate
how feeding a better-quality food can actually save money.”
EXPLAINING THE ADVANTAGES OF GRAIN FREE
“Consumers are hit with an overwhelming amount of information, from varying schools
of thought, with regards to nutrition and ingredients,” said Bette Schubert, co-founder
and senior vice president of sales for Bravo Pet Foods in Manchester, Conn. “This
naturally leads to plenty of questions, and pet parents are seeking expertise, typically
from their local pet retailer.”
At Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Wag N’ Wash Natural Food & Bakery, with corpo-
rate and franchise locations in multiple states, co-founder Jef Strauss said education is
central to the Wag N’ Wash shopping experience.
“Our team members must be able to educate our guests regarding available
options,” Strauss said.
For this reason, training modules stressing nutritional knowledge are important to
the Wag N’ Wash curriculum.
“We also want our staff to learn to ask questions in order to find the best solution
based on the individual needs of each pet,” he added.
With today’s technology, knowledge is at the pet owner’s fingertips, and many
websites offer a wealth of good, study-based tips regarding dog food, said Lori Fouts, vice
president of sales management for Stewart Pet, a brand of MiracleCorp in Moraine, Ohio.
However, not all websites contain fact-checked, reliable information, and often,
consumers will consult with their local pet store for further advice regarding the feeding and dietary needs of their pet, Fouts said.
“We teach our customers that most dogs do not need grain and that a grain-free
diet is an ‘upgrade,’” said Sherry Redwine, co-owner of Odyssey Pets in Dallas. “If
someone comes in saying their dog has allergies or is itchy, we recommend grain free,
and, nine times out of 10, it helps.”
Easy-to-read packaging is another cornerstone to helping pet owners understand
what’s in the food they are selecting, according to Pete Brace, vice president of commu-
nications and pet parent relations at Merrick Pet Care in Amarillo, Texas.
Manufacturer-provided training also serves to enhance staff member expertise,
said Barry Berman, founder of NexPet, a co-op for independent retailers, and Grandma
Mae’s Country Naturals, both in New York.
“We provide a training video and an online training course, with workbooks, to
teach pet store staff how to sell any high-end dog or cat food,” he said.
Millennials will soon bypass baby boomers in spending power, said Robert Downey,
president of Annamaet Petfoods in Telford, Pa. This segment considers pets to be essential family members, and millennials are more likely to be concerned with nutrition,
for themselves and their pets, he added.
“Millennials ask questions, don’t trust big, corporate brands, and will turn to a
retailer able to discuss incorrect or misleading information regarding the quality of a
product,” he said.
Where is the grain-free
“Continued growth is absolutely certain, especially as pet
parents become better educated
with regards to ingredients
and the benefits quality food
imparts to a companion animal’s
overall health, well-being and
co-founder and senior vice president of sales for Bravo Pet Foods
in Manchester, Conn.
“As the humanization of pets
continues to expand worldwide, we will see continued
growth in grain-free products.”—ROBERT DOWNEY,
president of Annamaet
Petfoods in Telford, Pa.