FUN & FUNCTION
Mary Ellen Oertel, owner and founder of Ma Snax Dog Treats in Santa
Rosa, Calif., said the company is in the testing phase of a new grano-la-type treat. The company currently has a few new shapes available,
as well as Hanukkah Gelt and Christmas Loot for the coming holiday
season—gold and silver foil-wrapped peppermint bark biscuits
resembling coins festively wrapped for Hanukkah and Christmas.
Earlier this year, Caru Pet Food in Vero Beach, Fla., introduced
Tuna Recipe and Pheasant Recipe to the company’s Soft ‘n Tasty
line of all-natural treats for dogs, said Adrian Pettyan, CEO and
This summer, Barkworthies, based in Richmond, Va., introduced
Superfood Jerky treat recipes for dogs. Made with real meat, plus superfood ingredients such as blueberries, carrots and pumpkin, these
new treats help support muscle growth and development, according
to the company. The line is available in a variety of flavors, and the
company will soon be offering two-pack trial sizes of the treats to
help introduce consumers to the brand.
Health Extension Pet Care in Deer Park, N. Y., recently introduced
the company’s first made in the USA whole-muscle jerky. Made from
real chicken, it works as a training treat or a reward and comes in a
4-ounce bag, the company reported.
What drives interest in dog treats at your store?
“In general, food sensitivities and allergies are
a bigger issue than ever before, and we get a
lot of customers who are specifically shopping
for certain ingredients. But even if a dog doesn’t
have those restrictions, it’s not uncommon to
see the owner turn the package over and read
the ingredients. They want to know exactly what
they’re feeding to their pet.”—CARMENALCALDE,
co-owner of Bad Dog Frida in Madison, Wis.
“Quality is the biggest driver. Pet parents want to know
that their dog got something out of it—more than
just taste, but also nutrition. Just like food purchases,
they want treats that are natural or organic. They want
ingredient lists to be easy to read with words they
actually understand.”—LINDSEY TESTERMAN, general
manager of Lizzi and Rocco’s Natural Pet Market in
GIVE THEM A REASON TO SPOIL THEIR PET
Shoppers are always looking for novel products to excite and appeal to
their pets, said Timothy Fabits, vice president of sales for Barkworthies in
Richmond, Va. Displays are a great way to showcase anything new. With so
much interest in exotic proteins, Fabits suggested that retailers dedicate a
specific section in the treat aisle to exotic protein sources.
“Pet parents are constantly looking for new and delicious ways to treat
their pets,” Fabits said. “There are plenty of dogs who have food allergies
and/or stomach sensitivities, and pet parents are increasingly interested in
exotic proteins like crocodile, rabbit and kangaroo, to name a few.”
Merchandising best practices also include featuring the proper display
of treats with accompanying educational material, added Rashell Cooper,
marketing director for Redbarn Pet Products in Long Beach, Calif.
“Picking the right treat for a pet is a very personalized process and
retailers should take advantage of manufacturer-provided resources,”
Holidays pose an excellent time to get shoppers interested in dog
treats. Adrian Pettyan, CEO and co-founder of Caru Pet Food in Vero Beach,
Fla., said that building displays that are relevant to upcoming holidays is a
great way to draw attention to treats.
Pet owners also like to treat their pets on their birthdays, and creating
displays that cater to birthdays can attract interest, said Mary Ellen Oertel,
owner and founder of Ma Snax Dog Treats in Santa Rosa, Calif.
In addition to a large shelving unit that is completely dedicated to
treats, Carmen Alcalde, co-owner of Bad Dog Frida in Madison, Wis., said
she displays some treats in the toy section.
“Toys that serve as activities, such as toys that the dog can roll around
and get treats to fall out of, are popular sellers,” Alcalde said. “We display
treats that work well inside of those toys right next to them.”
Lisa Gay, co-owner of H3 Pet Supply in Stratford, Conn., said that any
time the store introduces a new treat to customers, they’ll display it by the
food brand so that dog owners can become familiar and comfortable with it.
Gay said they often run special sales, as well.
“We will do discounts if they buy both a kibble and a treat from the
same manufacturer, at the same time,” Gay said. “We’ve found that even
a small discount often encourages the customer to pick up a bag of treats
under the same brand name.”
Lindsey Testerman, general manager of Lizzi and Rocco’s Natural Pet
Market, which has stores in Columbia, Mo., said that customers often
become “fiercely loyal to brands” when it comes to food. As a result, it typi-
cally benefits the retailer to display treats near their matching food brand.
“While we do have a dedicated treat wall, we’ll often try to get a little
peg display in near a popular brand,” Testerman said. “We might include a
sign that says, ‘If you love this food, why not try their treats?’”