Investing in a Healthful Profile
In recent years, demand and supply of pet health and safety products has erupted
amid more open minds, educated customers and myriad options.
By sandy cheBat
significant changes have taken place in the health, safety and first aid product categories for dogs and cats. Supplements, in particular, rank as a top seller
and remain a growing segment.
Brad Kriser, founder and CEO of Kriser’s Natural Pet,
a multistore chain, noted that along with more supplements are more delivery methods, from pills and powders to liquids, ointments and treats.
At Only Natural Pet in Boulder, Colo., founder and president Marty Grosjean said he is seeing a growing interest in
the use of nutritional supplements to help pets with health
conditions, which definitely differ between dogs and cats.
“As an example, cats deal with anxiety, hairballs and
urinary issues, while dogs deal with stiff joints, allergies
and incontinence,” he said. “However, in our experience,
parents of both species seem to be equally open to using
supplements for health support.”
In particular, pet specialty retailers listed probiotics
and cannabidiol (CBD) products as new offerings ex-
ploding on today’s market. And industry insiders credit
education as well as acceptance in the human products
market as the main reasons for the increase in popularity.
“People are learning more about probiotics,” said John
R. Taylor, ND, CEO and founder of NWC Naturals Pet
Products in Laguna Hills, Calif. “When we released our
probiotic, it was slow on the uptake. Now it’s my No.
Increased understanding about alternatives, as well
as the legalization of marijuana in some states, has influenced the CBD category, participants said.
“People are more open about alternative things, such
as CBD,” said Liz Oshant, co-owner of Noah’s Natural Pet
Market in Pacific Beach, Calif. “Even a year or two ago,
people would have been thinking marijuana, but this is
“We’ve always had a lot of remedies and supplements,
but we’re definitely seeing an uptick in sales,” she added.
“It’s becoming more mainstream and popular—all differ-
ent kinds of supplements, remedies, essences, vitamins/
minerals and herbal remedies.”
Car safety products are a growing segment, too.
“Car safety is No. 1 by far,” said Gary Hoeflich, owner
of Pet Supply, which has stores in California. “Products
have become better. [Manufacturers] have tweaked them
so they fit well, adjust right, are wide enough and are easier to use. There’s a huge selection out there.”
BrIng heaLth, saFety and FIrst aId to the Fore
Most stores reported grouping health, safety and first aid products into sections. For
example, Pet Supply, which has stores in California, places supplements in the supplements
category, and safety items, such as car booster seats, harnesses and crates, in another area
together, said owner Gary Hoeflich.
“We don’t want to run all around the store for a customer,” Hoeflich said. “We want it all
Retailers also mentioned being strategic about how they put things on the shelf. Hoeflich
places the better items in a category at eye level so it’s easy to talk to customers about them,
and Kim McCohan, chief happiness officer at Bend Pet Express in Bend, Ore., said all the
store’s shelves are shoulder height so staff can always see where customers are in the store
and if they need guidance.
For health products such as supplements, McCohan and other retailers create a key area
where customers are not left standing without assistance.
“We have a special area in the store dedicated to health support products where we give
individual consultations, away from the hubbub in the rest of the store,” said Marty Grosjean,
founder and president of Only Natural Pet in Boulder, Colo. “There is a computer kiosk there for
doing online research if needed, and a scale for weighing pets, as well as educational literature.
We take a very consultative approach, which is what it takes to be successful.”
sPread the Word, start the conversatIon
Because health, first aid and safety products don’t generally sell themselves, retailers and manufacturers agreed that education
is an integral part of successfully promoting this category.
“Education is key as most health, safety and first aid purchases often are one-time or infrequent purchases, so you’re relying
on pet store employees to know what they’re talking about,” said Steve Smith, president of Pet Releaf in Denver, Colo.
This begins with employee education, industry participants said.
“The most important thing when it comes to consumer education is to make sure your employees are themselves well educated about safety and first aid products so they can steer customers to the right product when they come into the store with a
problem,” said Barbara Denzer, vice president of marketing for Cardinal Pet Care in Azusa, Calif.
Once educated, the staff can pass the information on to customers. Insiders recommended one-on-one conversation as the
best way to accomplish this.
“Building a relationship with our pet parents is what we are all about, [and] part of that relationship is gaining their trust that
we care about the health of their pet,” said Kim McCohan, chief happiness officer at Bend Pet Express in Bend, Ore. “The best
way we can educate pet parents, and gain this trust, is having one-on-one conversations.
“Once that relationship is established, we get to talk about their pet and see a bigger picture to assist them in the right
direction in regard to what type of health product would be beneficial for their individual pet’s needs,” she added.
Brad Kriser, founder and CEO of Kriser’s Natural Pet, a multistore chain, urged retailers to create a place where pet owners
can come and not feel embarrassed about their lack of knowledge and have a team that is excited and happy to tell customers
about these products.
ustomer educatIon erchandIsIng