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A Strong, Healthy Category
Discover why retailers report that supplement sales for cats and dogs continue to rise.
BY LINDSEY GETZ
As we learn more about pets’ health and they’re living longer, their needs
are changing and they often can
benefit from some extra supplementation to their diet. That’s
been a key reason that supplement sales continue to grow. In
addition, other concerns such as
skin and allergy issues are on
pet owners’ radar, even with
their younger pets.
logicVET in Maple Ridge, British
Columbia, Canada, said that the
company recently surveyed pet
owners at a consumer pet show
and found that the biggest concerns were skin problems—both
allergy and digestive related.
They also found that pet owners
are very concerned about joint
health as their pets age.
Ken Cowan, vice president
of sales and marketing for Bio-
“As pets live longer, the
need for extra support grows,”
said Tamie Waugh, owner of
Cobber’s Pet Pantry in Enumc-
law, Wash. “My store is named
after my own dog, Cobber, who
is nearly 14 but looks fantastic. I
get a lot of questions about how
I keep her teeth so white or her
coat so shiny, and most people
can’t believe her age. That’s al-
ways a great testimonial for the
value of supplements and good
ERCHANDISING EW PRODUCTS
RECENT INTRODUCTIONS MAKE
SUPPLEMENT PLACEMENT IS KEY
The newest trend in supplementation right now is the evolving mode of
administering the supplement. Manufacturers reported that pet owners
have demanded a product that is easy to administer.
It’s not always easy to get creative when it comes to displaying supplements. But some simple-yet-clever
ideas can help engage your customers and encourage them to consider supplements.
Video demonstrations and interactive kiosks are always enticing, said Michele Rohrig, companion pet
brand manager for Nutri-Vet in Boise, Idaho.
“Many pets don’t like to take pills and owners find it difficult to give
pills or capsules—especially to cats,” said Michele Rohrig, companion
pet brand manager for Nutri-Vet in Boise, Idaho. “This has led to the
development of new forms such as liquid supplements, soft chews and
“Consumers like to see the results in action such as an older dog that is now more playful and active or a
formerly anxious dog that is sitting calmly when the owner leaves the house,” Rohrig said. “I also recom-
mend that supplements be placed in multiple areas of the store, including a small display near the counter.”
Last year, the company released grain-free soft biscuits for dogs that
are formulated to help support hips and joints, support skin and coat
health or provide a calming effect, Rohrig said. They include ingredients
such as carob, chia seed, coconut, garbanzo beans and peanut butter.
Sometimes placement alone can make a world of difference. With a product such as supplements,
which some pet owners don’t know much about, visibility is key. Tamie Waugh, owner of Cobber’s Pet
Pantry in Enumclaw, Wash., has found that keeping supplements behind the register is an excellent conversation starter. She often has customers who have come in for something else ask about them.
Jonathan Lewis, founder and CEO of Cool Pet Holistics in St. Peters-
burg, Fla., said the biggest trend in dog and cat supplements is a “highly
palatable product versus the traditional pill covered in peanut butter.”
Drawing customers’ attention is absolutely critical, agreed Bill Piechocki, CEO of BioVance Animal Health
Inc. in Pompano Beach, Fla. He said that creative signage should ask questions that can solicit conversation
such as “Does your dog have cancer?” or “Is your cat overweight?” Asking such questions might entice con-
sumers to stop and look at the product—especially if it strikes a chord with an issue they’re experiencing.
“Consumers are looking for products that their dogs and cats
actually enjoy,” said Lewis, who recently launched a Liquid-Vet K9 Joint
Wellness line specific for pets that are picky eaters and that might have
digestive problems with other products. The company also introduced
a Liquid-Vet Advanced K9 Joint line that will only be sold to independent
pet specialty retailers.
MAKING SENSE OF SUPPLEMENTS
W. F. Young Inc. in East Longmeadow, Mass., now offers The Missing
Because there are so many supplement options out there and it often feels overwhelming, Ken Cowan,
vice president of sales and marketing for BiologicVET in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada, said that
store owners could make use of technology to help consumers understand their choices.
Link Once Daily, which is part dental chew and part superfood supplement. The product includes Stay-C 50, a patented form of vitamin C,
contains naturally preserved omegas and glucosamine,
and has specially designed ridges to help reduce plaque
and remove tartar, according to the company. Formulas
include Hips, Joints & Teeth and Skin, Coat & Teeth.
“I suggest purchasing a touch screen to put within the health-solution category,” Cowan said. “It could
allow the customer to answer some questions, which will lead them to the products best suited for their pet’s
condition. This is not a large investment and will most certainly direct the consumer to the
right products more often—even without the retailer’s involvement.”
As the market rapidly grows, it’s important that staff continuously be educated.
Easy administration is really important to pet
owners, said Samantha Henson, a certified clinical pet
nutritionist and merchandising manager for Premier Pet
In 2014, surveyed
dog owners spent
an average of
Supply, which has stores in Michigan. She said if they
aren’t giving supplements in a treat or chewable tablet
form, then consumers like powders and liquids that can
be easily added to food or water.
$62 on vitamins
while surveyed cat
owners spent an
average of $33.
“Because there are so many products with different active ingredients and different
levels for varying weight ranges, the best recommendation is to request that the
manufacturer provide staff training,” said Jonathan Lewis, founder and CEO of Cool Pet
Holistics in St. Petersburg, Fla. “Training should be customized to compare the different
supplements that the retailer is selling in their store. Even though the information is on
our labels, consumers are often still confused about what the dosage is for their specific
pet. They also wonder if the product is safe for their other pets, including other species.”
“Nobody likes to have to shove a pill down their pet’s
throat,” Henson said. “Then it becomes a chore and you
put it off. Giving supplements has to be easy or pet own-
ers won’t always follow through and therefore won’t see the benefits.”
SOURCE: APPA 2015-2016
Heather Moran, owner of The Doggie Bag Boutique in Lakeland, Fla., said that manufacturers help provide education and keep the store up-to-date on the newest information.
NATIONAL PET OWNERS SURVEY
“With so many products out there, it can be daunting to keep up with, but finding manufacturers you really like and working closely with them makes a world of difference,” Moran said.
Although supplements in chew form and other nonpill options tend
to cost a little more, Heather Moran, owner of The Doggie Bag Boutique
in Lakeland, Fla., said her customers are willing to pay more if a product
offers a better experience.
Ken Wilks, sales and marketing director, pet care, for W. F. Young Inc. in East Longmeadow, Mass.,
said that, as a manufacturer, the company has a responsibility to help provide education to retailers and
directly to the consumer as well.
“If they can give them a supplement and they’ll take it willingly and actually enjoy it, the customers will definitely pay extra for that,” Moran said.
“In 2017, we have a significant digital and social media campaign planned to encourage customers to take
the ‘30-day challenge,’” Wilks said. “We’re seeking 10,000 pet parents that have never fed supplements to their
furry family members before to give them 30 days of supplementation ... Once the challenge is complete, we’re
redirecting the consumer to pet specialty retail stores with high-value coupons to buy their first bag.”