29 February 2019 Pet Product News International DOG MARKETPLACE
Dogs are getting ever more mobile as more public
spaces become pet friendly, and products to make
these outings easier are in demand.
BY LINDSEY GETZ
Dog owners know that regular walks are an important part of their pet’s health regimen. But these days, a lot of owners are doing more than just taking lei- surely strolls—they’re taking their dogs hiking, running and on other various
outdoor adventures, as well as everyday outings. That makes outdoor activity products a vital category for independent pet specialty retailers.
With so many pet owners taking their dogs on all kinds of adventures, the products on the market are starting to focus more on specific activities, said Bryant Baxter, marketing sales coordinator for EzyDog in Ponderay, Idaho.
“This enables pet parents to venture to new places with their dogs or just bring
them on more casual strolls with peace of mind,” he said.
There is definitely a trend toward owners wanting to involve their dogs in more
aspects of their lives, added Irene Diaz, sales assistant for ZippyPaws in Chino, Calif.
“As dogs are settling in as prime members of the family, more companies, busi-
nesses, cities, and even airports are taking note and creating more dog-friendly lo-
cations,” Diaz said. “Now, there are even apps that you can download that will let
you know of locations to take your beloved pup.”
George Parente, founder of Dogs & Cats Rule, which has five locations in New
Jersey and Pennsylvania, agreed that the acceptance of dogs in an increasing num-
ber of public settings has definitely encouraged owners to take their pets out and
“It’s becoming the norm to bring your dog along when you leave the house,”
Parente said. “Naturally, that has generated more interest in better-quality leads
and harnesses. I think more pet parents are also educated on the benefits of using a
walking harness for safety purposes. A collar and lead alone can put stress on the
dog’s trachea. If dog owners are going to be walking their dogs more often, they
want them to be safe.”
Jan Hopper, owner of Living Pawsitively Natural Pet Supply and Gift Store in
Lafayette, N.J., also noted that safety is incredibly important when it comes to walks.
“Both safety for the owner and the dog are important,” Hopper said. “We sell a
lot of leads from Marine Dog, which makes a very strong lead. We also get a lot of interest in Ruffwear’s harnesses. Good-quality products definitely encourage safety.”
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
Getting creative with in-store displays as well as selling opportunities is a great way to attract
more attention to the dog walking and outdoor activity product category.
Kim McCohan, chief happiness officer for Bend Pet Express, which has two locations in Bend,
Ore., said that her stores have been exploring unique ways to sell even more leads, harnesses
and outdoor adventure accessories. At the beginning of the summer, Bend Pet Express has a big
camping sale, which is always successful for the stores, McCohan reported. But going forward,
she added, the stores are considering more interactive opportunities that would create value that
pet owners would never be able to get from an online purchase.
“We would love to be able to have a play section in the store that allows pets and their parents
to try items before they buy them so that they can understand not only what they are buying and
how to use it best, but also have an opportunity to learn if a product isn’t right for them,” McCohan
said. “Another future marketing approach we’re considering would be to get out to the popular
walking and hiking destinations and have items for sale that customers may have forgotten.”
In-store displays can also have an impact. Susan Strible, director of marketing for Bend, Ore.-
based Ruffwear, said the company encourages retailers to leverage Ruffwear lifestyle photography
in store displays and use the imagery to “evoke emotion and inspire customers to seek their own
outdoor adventures with their dogs.”
“We also like to bring the outdoors in with product displays, using natural elements like
pinecones, sticks and rocks,” Strible said. “Our dog mannequin can wear Ruffwear gear to add
visual context for how the product is worn or the intended activity. These concepts can make it
easy for customers to understand the design intent behind Ruffwear products and get a better
sense of our values.”
Irene Diaz, sales assistant for ZippyPaws in Chino, Calif., said that engaging customers with
options and with education in product displays can also be helpful.
“We feel that dog owners at times aren’t even aware of the options that are available when it
comes to going out with their pets,” Diaz said. “When creating a store display, you can take the
opportunity to also make it both informational and alluring. Stores can generate more interest by
providing tips for successful trips with your dog or providing information for local dog-friendly
events or sites.”