Dog owners want natural grooming
products that mirror their own in
simplicity, ingredients and care.
THIS ARTICLE IS BROUGHT
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BY SANDY CHEBAT
With each passing year, dogs are humanized to a greater level, including in the natural grooming segment.
“Almost anything you would do at a human
grooming salon or in your own bathroom to pamper
yourself can now be done for your pup,” said Eric
Bittman, CEO of Warren London in New City, N. Y.
And as consumers recognize ingredients in human products, they increasingly want to see those
same ingredients in their pets’ products. In her
17-year career, Nancy Chinchar, owner of Downtown Doghouse, which has two locations in
New York, said the biggest change in the natural
grooming category is more companies listing their
ingredients on the label, which she wishes every
company would do.
With natural products and ingredients increasingly becoming important for humans, industry
insiders said that when presented with natural options for dogs, owners gravitate toward them. Shannon Moore, director of grooming and education for Espree Animal Products in
Grapevine, Texas, reported seeing a growing shift toward natural
spa treatments, and that consumers seek convenience and solutions.
“People are busier than ever before and are looking for ways to
make taking care of their pets easier,” she said. “Wipes and water-
less baths are in demand to help pet owners keep their pet looking
its best between baths and grooming appointments.”
Elyse Horvath, founder of Natural Paws in Scottsdale, Ariz., also
reported that dog owners want natural and simple options.
“If the average pet parent is given an option for an easy prod-
uct to use that;s not natural, or a natural product that;s difficult or
messy to use, they are only somewhat likely to make that purchase,”
she said. “But if we give that same parent a product that is both nat-
ural and easy to use, they are considerably more likely to purchase
With more than three decades in the pet industry, Joe Zuccarello,
director of innovation for TropiClean in Wentzville, Mo., said the
greatest change is educated consumers.
“We are doing more homework looking for products that are
safe and effective, and that provide education as to what ingredients are used, where they are sourced and how they will benefit our
fuzzy family members,” he said.
Liz Illg, owner and CEO of Puff and Fluff Grooming and Pet
Sitting, which has two locations in Phoenix, agreed.
“Customers want to be able to see the ingredients that are in the
products, ingredients that they can easily read and understand,” she
said, adding that her customers want at-home remedies, eco-friendly products and premium products, which they’re willing to pay for.
Steve Nicolosi, national sales manager and owner of Glo-Marr
Pet Products in Lawrenceburg, Ky., reported a similar trend.
“They are willing to pay more for these products and services
that command a higher price,” he said. “They want their pet to have
the same ‘experience’ that they do.”
DISPLAY AN ARRAY
“Retailers should try to pull all the natural products that they carry
into one area,” said David Reich, president of Bobbi Panter Pet Prod-
ucts in Chicago. “That will tell a story to the consumers. [And the]
staff needs to understand the products. Awareness of what they have
is really important.”
Steve Nicolosi, national sales manager and owner of Glo-Marr
Pet Products in Lawrenceburg, Ky., agreed, adding that “most stores
have an ‘all-natural’ section, so that this is where these products
At Puff and Fluff Grooming and Pet Sitting, which has two loca-
tions in Phoenix, natural grooming products are displayed in vintage
boxes on the walls, said Liz Illg, owner and CEO.
“We have been able to sell these products, as we stand
behind them,” Illg said. “These are the products being used in our
Elizabeth Lisella, owner of K- 9 Bath & Body in Nesquehoning, Pa.,
also finds that while they incorporate manufacturer-provided posters
and merchandise holders, it’s the employee enthusiasm about natural
grooming products that sells the most.
“My employees are animal lovers and believe in any products we
have here, so they push them along to our clients,” she said.
There are many strategies that retailers can implement to see stronger sales in the natural grooming
category during the second half of the year.
“Increasing sales to finish the year strong is always important, and a big way to do that is to connect
with your customers in a big way,” said Eric Bittman, CEO of Warren London in New City, N. Y. “Keeping
your customers informed with social media, and letting them know that special deals and sales will be
announced once a month, will keep their attention. That is also a great way to send out weekly updates
on products you carry and solutions for many of the issues that dogs face.”
Elyse Horvath, founder of Natural Paws in Scottsdale, Ariz., also recommended that retailers engage
“Ask how the pets are doing, if they’re dealing with any allergies or issues that the customer might
not mention without a prompt,” she said. “Whether the customer hadn’t thought to mention the need for
a solution or they just didn’t realize they could find something for that particular issue, the conversation
is always a great lead off to extra sales.”
To prevent soft-grooming product sales because of the season, Joe Zuccarello, director of innovation
for TropiClean in Wentzville, Mo., said “natural grooming products targeted at helping pets with dry skin
associated with dry winter air and home furnaces can produce a lift in sales through the colder months.”
Offering sample sizes to encourage customers to try something new also can bump up end-of-year
sales. Reliq in Dallas has sample shampoo pouches available for retailers, and Cameron Fang, manager of
product development, said that most customers who have purchased them have returned for a full-size
“This gives the consumer a chance to spend one or two dollars to try on a new product,” he said.
“Most people have no problem buying that, and they can use it when traveling with pets, too.”
SET UP FOR A STRONG FINISH
Pet Product News International July 2017
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