SHOW AND TELL
When it comes to displaying products, it helps to begin outside the store,
“We send out an e-newsletter and try to tell people about [products],” said
Sue Green, owner of The Whole Cat & Dogs, Too in Denver. “My supplements are
right up by the counter so it’s easier when customers come up to show them.”
It’s important to take an active role in sales, as the natural supplements
category can be confusing to some customers.
“We have to sell it,” said Lynnet Spiegel, owner of Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Foods,
which has stores in San Francisco. “It doesn’t sell itself—that’s for sure.”
In some cases, it can be useful to stock natural supplements near related
products, such as placing digestive aids with pet food, or calming products next
to training equipment or pet beds.
“We’ve got shelves everywhere, so it’s very easy for us to move hip and joint
[supplements] next to harnesses,” said Ric Sommons, owner of Dolittle’s, which
has stores in South Carolina. “We’re always cross-merchandising that way.”
Keeping products in consumers’ line of sight is important to ensure
“The best way to merchandise natural supplements is to put them on an
endcap,” said Jaime Rowe, president of Ello Pet Supply, a distributor of USA-made
pet products based in Wheat Ridge, Colo. “Retailers could place one different
product by the register and switch it out once a week. That way, it will be fresh
for the customer who potentially walks in the store once a week to buy their
dog or cat food.”
Anthony Bennie, founder and chief nutrition officer of Clear Conscience Pet
LLC in Cape Coral, Fla., cautioned that supplement sections can be a dead spot
in the store.
“It’s much better to cross-merchandise functional treats, nutrient-enhanced
food toppers like our SuperGravy and pure supplements with foods or directly
next to them,” he said.
HEMP IS HOT
Customer interest in natural supplements to help pets stay healthier is on the rise, and manufacturers are addressing growing demand with new
products formulated to address various issues.
“Natural supplements are generally what customers come in to see because it’s easier for [their pet’s] body to break these down,” said Heather
Bearz, co-owner of The Cheshire Cat & Dog, Too in Cheshire, Conn. “[True Leaf] just came out with a bunch of really great True Hemp [chew
supplements] for dogs that have supportive uses, such as for hip and joint or immunity. They also have a really good one for calming.”
Natural supplements from Glacier Peak Holistics also do well in her shop, Bearz said. In general, with interest in natural products derived from
hemp increasing, other products made from cannabis plants are appearing on the market as well.
“Hemp oil is really doing well for us,” said Sue Green, owner of The Whole Cat & Dogs, Too in Denver. “We do carry some glucosamine and
chondroitin products, and we do carry fish, which also helps [with joint issues] … but what’s really doing a lot for arthritis and anxiety is the CBD oil.”
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, known to be a nonpsychoactive chemical derived from cannabis plants, has health and wellness benefits for pets, industry
participants reported, and is very popular.
“CBD products in multiple formats are the hot topic right now,” said Jaime Rowe, president of Ello Pet Supply, a distributor of USA-made pet
products based in Wheat Ridge, Colo. “CBD products come in oils, treats, topicals and balms. It’s a growing trend that looks like it will remain strong
due to the positive affects to wellness for animals.”
Functional chews formulated to include natural supplements are increasingly in demand.
Zuke’s launched a line of Enhance Functional Chews for dogs last year, and recently added two SKUs to the line: Enhance Cognition and Enhance
Immune Support, said David Rizzo, director of operations for Zuke’s in Durango, Colo.
“With Enhance, we wanted to offer more than just quality nutrition, so we crafted chews that could help support our dogs’ daily health,” he said.
The grain-free chews are made with herbs and other ingredients, and they are manufactured in the USA in small batches, Rizzo added.
How has the pet humanization trend impacted the natural supplements category?
Many customers have done a lot of research before they come into the
store, retailers reported, and it’s useful to prepare staff with information on
available products to help facilitate conversations and sales.
“People do a lot of research online, and then they’ll come to us and
ask what we think about this or that,” said Heather Bearz, co-owner of The
Cheshire Cat & Dog, Too in Cheshire, Conn.
Though she often recommends addressing issues through diet first,
Bearz said she will recommend supplements one at a time to help pinpoint
“We try to use a more-reserved approach, and we go in steps,” she said.
“My advice to new retailers is: Definitely know your products. You’ve got to
stand behind them.”
While customers often have knowledge of supplements, some retailers
find that they aren’t as well informed when it comes to nutritional issues.
“A lot of people don’t have a clue about nutrition as far as the foods go,”
said Sue Green, owner of The Whole Cat & Dogs, Too in Denver.
Green often finds she has to educate customers about nutritional basics
before she’s comfortable suggesting a natural supplement to help with a
given problem. In the case of digestion issues, however, she will recommend
a supplement outright, she said.
Other retailers noted the importance of diet in the conversation.
“It all starts with diet,” said Lynnet Spiegel, owner of Jeffrey’s Natural
Pet Foods, which has stores in San Francisco. She will only recommend a
digestive supplement after she’s addressed the diet with customers,
Customers look to retailers as a source of authoritative knowledge, and
some retailers reported developing a reputation for their store based on their
“I think our general reputation over the years has put us in that position
of being a local resource for knowledge,” said Ric Sommons, owner of Dolittle’s, which has stores in South Carolina. “I try to work with my employees
to always make everything about a conversation rather than a quick solution.
We’re always about how can we prolong the … the relationship with our
customer.” S H