to heavy scents, and certain essential oils,
though not all, can be toxic to them.”
Wien added that cat owners look for
shampoos that do not have extracts, sur-
factants or cleaning agents.
“They want a product that won’t be
harmful to their pet if, while cleaning herself, she ingests any shampoo that wasn’t
totally rinsed off,” he said.
THE NEED FOR EXPERTISE
Effective education that meets customer
needs and boosts sales begins with retailer expertise, according to industry
insiders. Pet specialty retailers agreed
that relying on vendor materials as well
as personal research creates a winning
combination for educating employees on
Jolie-Coeur said the company does a
lot of training and conference calls with
managers using materials from vendors
as well as its own company. Natural Pawz
plans to create videos as well, she said.
Jackie Cain, store manager for Furly’s
Pet Supply in Lake Forest, Calif., said that
before a product hits the store’s shelves,
employees are educated about its features.
“We also enlist the help of the brands
and manufacturers themselves to give us
tutorials on current and new products,”
Most brands offer stores helpful resources, from pamphlets, websites and
videos to direct numbers for personal
“Because I’m not able to visit all our
stores, I’ve recently begun putting together an ingredient ‘cheat sheet’ to educate staff and offer them the opportunity
to speak knowledgeably to customers,”
Kent said she provides retailers with
her company’s brand catalog and highlights certain things in it.
“If you can home in on key points, it
makes it easier when they talk with cus-
tomers,” she said. “They can convey the
high-level stuff and a couple of details on
why this product works.”
Cain added that extensive education
from manufacturers, coupled with em-
ployee product testing, is most effective
for being able to recommend a product to
Jolie-Coeur said retailers and retail
staff who can demonstrate that they’ve
researched the best solutions for com-
mon problems, as well as understand
the breeds and products that work best
for them, give customers confidence in a
store’s expertise and care.
Talking with customers is also critical
in the grooming education process.
“The store’s retail staff should be able
to steer the customer to the right products
for their pet,” Wien said. “This means
they should ask questions about the pet’s
skin and coat type and condition. Much
of the educational process consists of listening to the customer’s needs and problems, and being able to offer effective
This past fall, Cardinal Pet Care started
shipping its EcoBath Manuka Honey
grooming line, which includes a shampoo, a conditioner, a detangling spray, an
anti-itch spray, a tooth gel and a dental
“All of the products are made with
natural manuka honey from New Zea-
land, which is valued for its healing and
restorative abilities,” Wien said. “The
manuka honey in EcoBath products is
combined with high-quality organic and
botanical ingredients to create Cardinal’s
exclusive Honey Hygiene, a new nature-
based approach to caring for pets’ coat,
skin, teeth and gums.”
Dr. Sniff released two spritz products
in the fall. Freshening Spritz is an odor
remover that comes in two scents: Fresh
Pup and Bright Pup.
“I love creating products that pet
parents will love and will be multipur-
posed,” Kent said. “This particular spritz
is alcohol free and safe to use in the home
as well as on pets and will even satisfy
In addition to containing no alcohol,
parabens and sulfates, the sprays include
certified organic ingredients and nontoxic
fragrances formulated to keep dogs smell-
ing fresh between groomings, Kent said.
Dr. Sniff also unveiled its 2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner in Fresh Pup, Sweet
Pup, Perky Pup and Calm Pup formulas.
Like other Dr. Sniff products, the line is
cruelty free, and free from gluten, parabens and alcohol, Kent said.
John Paul Pet can easily recognize and
capitalize on the overlaps between pet
and human grooming products, because
it is a Paul Mitchell-related product line,
“The Paul Mitchell [human] demographic is the same as the [pet] grooming demographic, so we are creating pet
products that mirror human products so
our consumers can have their favorite
shampoo in a pet version,” she said.
To that end, Dial reported that the
company plans to add a Lemon Sage collection to its lineup.
OPTIMIZING YOUR ASSORTMENT
Independent pet stores strive to create
harmony in their assortment of skin and
coat grooming products for dogs and
cats, insiders reported. Offering product
diversity, optimal pricing and maximizing shelf space all play important parts in
what can be a difficult balance.
“Diversity is important because not
everyone will spend $22 on a bottle of
shampoo,” Kent said. “As a retailer,
you’re trying to accommodate everybody without overwhelming them. Finding a balance is important.”
Product diversity is a focal point at
Furly’s Pet Supply, Cain said.
“We want to make sure that there is a
product for every type of customer and
their budget,” she said. “We also offer
special ordering, which alleviates the
problem of our customers having to find
While price is a consideration, Wien
reported that quality is also a high prior-
ity for many customers.
“The type of customer who buys
grooming products at a pet specialty
retailer tends to be more concerned with
getting a quality product that’s right for
their pet,” he said. “If a store stocks a
good assortment of grooming products,
covering a wide range of coat and skin
types, and offers accurate advice to cus-
tomers, it can become known for its ex-
pertise in the grooming category.”
Dial suggests keeping things simple.
“Keep your assortment small;
too many choices only confuses the
customer,” she said. “Choose a few
products you believe to be the best, and