Demand for on-animal flea and tick control products remains steady, with natural and national brand equivalent options, in particular, gaining in popularity.
Most dogs and cats today are viewed more as beloved family members and live indoors with their human companions. According to Jennifer Allen, senior technical services veterinarian for Bayer Animal Health in Shawnee, Kan., this view influences the top two reasons owners want on-animal flea and tick treatments for their dogs and cats: to prevent and eliminate fleas and ticks, thus easing the pet’s discomfort, and the “yuck factor” of not wanting to see fleas and ticks on the pet.
The demand for on-animal flea and tick treatments centers on effective, easy-to-use, safe and cost-effective products, industry sources said.
“One of our top sellers is Vet’s Best Natural Flea + Tick Home Spray, because people love that it works effectively on contact and can be used daily on and around your pet,” said Brian Pratt, assistant manager at Anaheim Feed & Pet Supply in Anaheim, Calif. “Another top seller is Advantage II because it’s effective for nearly 30 days and convenient for customers to use.”
Spot-ons lead the pack in this category, enjoying 70 percent dollar share of the flea and tick market, said Bucky Webb, executive vice president of sales for Promika LLC in Cary, N.C. However, Jaime McKinley, vice president of business development for W.F. Young Inc.’s Absorbine brand in East Longmeadow, Mass., reported seeing increased demand in recent years for alternatives to spot-on treatments and natural/eco-friendly flea and tick products.
“While spot-ons still are thought to be effective, there have been questions raised regarding [their] use based on news and social media stories reporting consumers’ concerns and dissatisfaction,” she said. “As a result, pet parents are seeking alternatives to the spot-on delivery system.”
Dog Patch Pet & Feed in Naperville, Ill., also carries natural flea and tick products, said owner Greg Gordon.
“Natural is probably the segment growing the fastest, because people don’t want to put chemicals on their dog,” he said.
Addressing the desire for cost savings, customers are seeing more national brand equivalents in the flea and tick category.
“We want to give our pets the best, yet I don’t want to spend $65 for Frontline Plus when I can go to my local retailer and get ZoGuard Plus and pay under $30,” Webb said.
New Flea and Tick Control Products
Collars and national brand equivalents (NBEs) are leading flea and tick releases this year.
Seeing owners starting to move away from topical spot-on treatments, Absorbine Pet developed a collar designed to protect dogs for the entire flea and tick season. Scheduled to launch this year, the Absorbine UltraShield EX Flea & Tick collar for dogs is made in the USA, uses a specially designed, sustained-release deltamethrin formula to provide dogs with waterproof protection for up to six months, and features an adjustable design that lets the collar fit dog breeds of all sizes, said Jaime McKinley, vice president of business development for W.F. Young Inc.’s brand in East Longmeadow, Mass.
Perrigo Animal Health’s PetArmor Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs is the NBE to Scalibor Protector Band for Dogs, which is available at the veterinarian. It contains the same active ingredients as the national brand, but it costs less and provides 12 months of protection with two collars, said Neal Wilmore, vice president of sales and marketing for the Omaha, Neb., manufacturer.
The company also released an NBE to Bayer Advantage II. PetArmor Advanced 2 Flea Treatment is formulated to treat and prevent fleas for 30 days, Wilmore said.
Launched in the first quarter of this year, Promika LLC’s Salvo Flea & Tick Collar for dogs comes in a two pack to offer 12 months of protection at almost half the price of brands veterinarians carry, said Bucky Webb, executive vice president of sales for the Cary, N.C., manufacturer. With the company’s focus on giving retailers access to high-quality NBEs, Promika also released Adventure Plus, the NBE to Bayer Advantage II, and ShieldTec Plus, the NBE to VetGuard Plus, Webb said.
In addition, Promika now offers ShieldTec Oatmeal Shampoo, which is formulated to kill fleas and ticks for up to 14 days and controls eggs and larvae as well, Webb said, adding that the soothing oatmeal helps with irritation.
Merchandise and Display Flea and Tick Products
Solution centers are a popular recommendation when it comes to marketing flea and tick control products for dogs and cats.
“We encourage our retailers to think of organizing their products into solution centers, where they group complementary products onto an endcap or shelf display,” said Jaime McKinley, vice president of business development for W.F. Young Inc.’s Absorbine brand in East Longmeadow, Mass.
For some retailers, making products easily accessible on a shelf creates a problem.
“Due to the high price/value of flea and tick products, they unfortunately are susceptible to higher theft rates relative to other products in-store,” said Jennifer Allen, senior technical services veterinarian for Bayer Animal Health in Shawnee, Kan.
At Dog Patch Pet & Feed in Naperville, Ill., owner Greg Gordon keeps “the high-priced stuff under the counter, and the rest is out.
“You have to let people touch and feel things, or they won’t buy them,” he said.
Allen recommends using displays with proxy cards that customers redeem for the product at the register.
“They should have clear, simple messaging conveying the efficacy of the product, proper utilization and general education,” Allen said, adding that “for displays that have the product locked in a glass case, utilizing similar POP materials in a lighted display that is positioned in high traffic flow patterns also is very effective.”
Brian Pratt, assistant manager at Anaheim Feed & Pet Supply in Anaheim, Calif., uses employee-recommendation cards to encourage customers to ask store staff how the items have worked for them in their own lives.
“I create a small display on the front counter every spring of the Wondercide sprays and a small chalkboard that says ‘Safe, All-Natural, Effective Flea & Tick Control,’” said Sherry Redwine, co-owner of Odyssey Pets in Dallas. “We include flea and tick facts in our newsletter, The Barker, in the spring. We also post on Facebook and Instagram during the springtime.”
Neal Wilmore, vice president of sales and marketing for Perrigo Animal Health in Omaha, Neb., said that based on his company’s consumer research, flea and tick can be a difficult category to shop.
“To help consumers, we recommend in-aisle navigational and educational messaging whenever possible,” he said. “We also recommend clear and concise messaging covering the themes of year-round treatment and prevention, trusted vet-quality ingredients and affordability. Our data also shows that secondary placement and cross-promotional activities drive sales lift.”
Educating the Consumer About Flea and Tick Control
“Pet owners need to understand the great importance of flea and tick control, and they need to understand the differences between products to make an informed decision,” said Jennifer Allen, senior technical services veterinarian for Bayer Animal Health in Shawnee, Kan.
At Anaheim Feed & Pet Supply in Anaheim, Calif., assistant manager Brian Pratt said that explaining the complete flea life cycle to customers empowers them to make better choices that fit their individual needs when battling a flea problem.
“We educate customers through visual diagrams that help explain the flea life cycle as well as verbally informing the consumer of the benefits of different products,” he said.
Because safety is a concern for owners as they seek to kill the pests without hurting the pets—or the humans who love them—industry insiders agreed that consumers must be educated on proper application of these products.
“A flea collar that is too loose on the dog won’t allow the product to be effective,” said Jaime McKinley, vice president of business development for W.F. Young Inc.’s Absorbine brand in East Longmeadow, Mass. “The appropriate fit for a collar is to have it fitted but not too snug; you should be able to put two fingers between a collar and the dog’s skin.”
Sharing personal experience is a popular technique for many retailers.
“We show customers the safe options and tell them that’s what we use,” said Sherry Redwine, co-owner of Odyssey Pets in Dallas.
Several insiders stressed the importance of educating in-store personnel. McKinley said W.F. Young provides its retail partners with educational materials including email blasts, product information guides and training webinars. Bayer uses training modules and licensed veterinarians to help retail personnel understand the category and the active ingredients in the products so they can better assist pet owners in making an informed choice within the category, Allen said.
With many pet owners doing their own online research before setting foot inside the pet store, several companies provide educational content online.
“Most consumers research before shopping,” said Bucky Webb, executive vice president of sales for Promika LLC in Cary, N.C. He recommends providing websites for these pet owners.
McKinley said using social media is highly effective with consumers. W.F. Young uses its Facebook page along with a network of bloggers and social media influencers.
Perrigo Animal Health created a Look at the Label campaign to increase consumer education and flea and tick awareness, said Neal Wilmore, vice president of sales and marketing for the Omaha, Neb., manufacturer.
This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Pet Product News.