All in On Oils
New natural grooming products tap into human beauty
trends, including the use of essential oils and extracts.
BY WENDY BEDWELL-WILSON
People love to pamper their dogs and cats—and what better way than with grooming products made with natural ingredients? The newest trends in skin
and coat care center on people-product
inspired shampoos, conditioners, spritzes
and wipes that are infused with nourishing
oils and extracts.
“Consumers have been looking for solu-
tions for their pets’ needs in grooming and
general care,” said Justin Jones, president of
Espree Animal Products Inc. in Grapevine,
Texas. “In addition, we continue to see a
trend in which new human products and in-
gredients (with pet applications) eventually
gravitate to pet care.”
Brian Collier, marketing manager at Tropi-
Clean in Wentzville, Mo., agreed.
“Pet parents are now looking for products
with ingredients that they can relate to and
can easily be understood,” he said. “The hu-
manization of pets is driving this trend. Pet
parents want ingredients that they relate to
so they can rest assured knowing that they’re
giving their pets the absolute best, whether
it’s in grooming or oral care.”
In the human beauty market, therapeutic oils, like
argan, rosehip and blue orchid, are all the rage. Groom-
ing product manufacturers have pounced on the trend,
and they’re using these oils in their spa-worthy blends.
“Espree launched a line of oil therapy products using ingredients like argan oil, avocado oil, coconut oil
and keratin since the benefits to humans also transition
to animals,” Jones said.
Sally Adams Trufant, general manager at B&B Pet
Stop in Mobile, Ala., stocks Bio-Groom’s full complement of products, including the company’s new shampoo and coat spray made with argan oil.
“Most of our customers aren’t on the cutting edge of
trends, but more and more are trying to avoid putting
extra chemicals on their pets and are looking for sulfate-and paraben-free products,” she said.
The other ingredients in the mix matter to pet owners, too. Botanicals, aloe vera, essential oils and more
combine to address specific issues, such as itchy skin,
brittle coat, pesky insects, sore muscles and anxiety.
“Consumers recognize the benefits of key ingredi-
ents in natural grooming products,” Jones said.
Also topping the trends are convenience and effectiveness—especially when it comes to skunk odor, said
Bobbi Panter, president of Bobbi Panter Pet Products
“Skunk smell removal is a big thing that we get,
and our Stinky Dog and Smelly Cat Shampoos re-
move skunk in one wash and are tear free,” she said.
“And everyone wants sprays. People don’t have
time and are in a hurry. Sprays are quick, easy and
get an instant result.”
Pennye Jones-Napier, co-owner of The Big Bad
Woof, with stores in Washington, D.C., and Hyatts-
ville, Md., reported that she has seen a sales surge
in between-bath sprays.
“I’ve seen a big uptick in grooming sprays, which
are for freshening the coat between baths,” she said.
“And almost all the sprays have essential oils as an additive to it, like lavender as a calming agent. Kin+Kind
is a line we recently picked up, and it has beautiful
packaging and very nice scents.”
THE ALL-IMPORTANT CUSTOMER CONVO
When talking to customers about natural grooming products, retailers should
first help customers read—and understand—the labels, said Bobbi Panter,
president of Bobbi Panter Pet Products in Chicago.
“Nothing is all natural,” she said. “It is nearly impossible to not have
something that doesn’t qualify as ‘all natural’ in products. Like preservatives,
for instance. You have to have some level of preservative in natural products
because bacteria will grow in them within a week. The level of preservative or
ingredient is what really counts.”
Concerned pet owners should, however, steer clear of ingredients such as
sodium chloride and sodium lauryl sulfate, Panter said.
“Those two ingredients are table salt,” she said. “Salt is drying to the skin
and fur. Think of what you feel like when you come out of the ocean. These
ingredients are used to thicken shampoo in a cheap way and to create all the
bubbles, but they’re hard to rinse out and they dry out skin and fur, leaving a
When talking to customers about natural coat care products, it’s
essential to point out that not all formulas are designed to work for every pet,
said Shannon Moore, director of grooming and education for Espree Animal
Products Inc. in Grapevine, Texas. Discuss what the customer’s specific needs
are, and recommend a product that addresses these.
“Caring pet owners should try to determine if they are looking for a
product to maintain healthy skin and coat or if they are searching for a solu-
tion-oriented product when selecting an all-natural shampoo and condition-
er,” she said. “Not all shampoos and conditioners, whether all natural or not,
are designed to work for every dog. Every pet’s need is different, so different
types of shampoo and conditioner may work better with their skin and coat.”
Sherry Redwine, co-owner of Odyssey Pets in Dallas, said she typically
asks customers if their dog is having issues such as itchy skin, or an oily or
dry coat. Then she recommends products from there.
“I really like Espree’s Tea Tree & Aloe Shampoo for itchy skin,” she said.
“Their new Argan Oil Shampoo is great for rehydration of a dry coat. Some
people don’t have any ‘issues’ per say so they pick one with a pleasing smell
for them. I really like Espree’s [Perfect Calm Lavender & Chamomile] Shampoo
(which is also calming) and the Rainforest Shampoo, if a pleasant smell is
what they’re looking for.”
Itchy skin? Suggest something with avocado or coconut oil. Dull coat?
Recommend an argan oil and aloe vera spray. Brittle hair? Point to products
with keratin. Anxious dog? Show them the lavender.
Brian Collier, marketing manager at TropiClean in Wentzville, Mo., encourages retailers to get to know their customers’ dogs.
“First, always ask what their name is,” he said. “Also, ask what type of
breed they are or for the pet parent to describe their coat type. Is it coarse,
thin, long, short, etc.? Also, ask about daily activities. Do they like to run and
jump in a nearby pond, or are they cuddle buddies who you can frequently
find on the couch? These should all play important roles in your discovery
process learning about their dog and what would be the best solution.”
Above all, store staff should be well trained and knowledgeable about the
products on the shelves, said Sally Adams Trufant, general manager at B&B
Pet Stop in Mobile, Ala.
“We have well-trained salespeople on the floor to talk to the customers
and find out what their preferences are or what issues their pets may be
having and recommend the best products for the job, regardless of whether
they are natural or not,” she said.
DISPLAYS WORTHY OF THE SPA
Make your grooming goods displays pop with these insider tips:
n Don’t limit your shelves to shampoos and conditioners, said Justin
Jones, president of Espree Animal Products Inc. in Grapevine, Texas.
“Carry and sell add-on products like colognes, sprays and wipes that
complement core shampoo products,” he said.
n Convey “spa” in your display, said Brian Collier, marketing manager at
TropiClean in Wentzville, Mo. “For our TropiClean grooming products,
highlight their natural and tropical features by placing some wood
crates around them like a fruit stand on a beach,” he said. “Or for our
Spa by TropiClean shampoos, lay some loofahs, massage stones or
aroma beads on a table to highlight the luxurious bathing experience
customers will get with these products.”
n Position grooming tools strategically, suggested Sally Adams
Trufant, general manager at B&B Pet Stop in Mobile, Ala. “We
merchandise our grooming tools above the shelves of shampoos,
so depending on what kind of coat a pet has, we can easily recom-
mend the right shampoo and the appropriate grooming tools,” she
said. “And it looks fantastic.”
n Be inspired by human beauty product displays, said Sherry Redwine,
co-owner of Odyssey Pets in Dallas. “When you shop for your own hair
care, how does it look? Try to emulate the way salon products for peo-
ple are sold,” she said. “You have to make the customer want to buy it.
Make it appealing. Make them think that if they don’t buy this product,
they are doing their dog a disservice.”
n Use clever manufacturer-provided signage. “Our full-size cutout of
Big Boi and Bobbi is ‘out of the box,’” said Bobbi Panter, president of
Bobbi Panter Pet Products in Chicago. “We have it in several stores,
and it’s amazing!”
n Section the products by the problem they solve, Panter said. “Consum-
ers are usually looking to solve a skin or coat problem,” she said. “If
they just want a great shampoo, don’t have too many to choose from
because it’s just confusing.”
Many cat owners do not bathe their pets; instead, they prefer
easy, no-water-needed grooming solutions.