It’s Feeding Time
Stylish options in dishware abound, along with practical feeders and waterers for those pets who might have digestion or other issues. Manufacturers and retailers weigh in on trends and tips for merchandising these products.
Many trends in feeders revolve around optimal pet health, said Brad Kriser, founder and CEO of Kriser’s Natural Pet, which has multiple locations. These include slow-feeding innovations, raised diners and bowls designed to prevent whisker fatigue.
Manufacturers are responding to the consumer’s focus on better nutrition and the way the animal receives nutrition, said Curt Jacques II, owner of West Lebanon Feed & Supply in West Lebanon, N.H.
“For example, with a large population of ‘aggressive eaters,’ the need to have a feeder or slow feeder bowl has created a lot of interest in making sure that the dog has reduced or slower intake in eating their meal,” Jacques said. “Digestive upsets are common, and with a dog wolfing down their food, they are more apt to have upset tummies and don’t enjoy their food as they should.
“Elevated food and water bowls are still very popular, especially for the large-breed dogs,” he added.
Billy Davison, national sales and service manager for Unleashed Life in Springfield, Mo., agreed.
“There are many health benefits for larger pets when they are eating out of a raised feeder,” he said. “We also are starting to see a growing demand for heavier feeders and waterers to prevent the bowls from moving with more aggressive pets.”
Fashion working alongside function is another trend, with feeders becoming more solution-based, said Jackie Becattini, marketing director at Neater Pet Brands in Malvern, Pa.
Bowl trends include new materials, such as stainless steel and bamboo.
“The growth in raw-food diets has made stainless steel a vital part of this category as well,” Kriser said.
In addition to high-quality materials and stylish options, quiet pumps are in demand, reported Shannon Supanich, media and public relations manager at Pioneer Pet Products in Cedarburg, Wis.
“With the popularity of Pinterest, Houzz, etc., consumers are demanding not only high-quality, healthful products for their pets, but they want them to fit nicely into their home décor,” she added.
Linda Brown, vice president of product development for Bowsers Pet Products in Toronto, also reported a focus on design.
“Consumers are looking for a functional yet stylish design,” she said. “Bowsers Artisan Feeders are a new, sophisticated option to today’s bulky, utilitarian, stainless steel feeders. They are a contemporary modular design—add on single feeders for drinking water or for feeding additional dogs.”
New Releases in Dishware
Katie Pottenger, owner of Parker’s Holistic Pet Market in Chicago, reported that the cleverly designed bowls and feeders launched at Global Pet Expo this year in Orlando, Fla., have been a huge hit for the store.
Shannon Supanich, media and public relations manager at Pioneer Pet Products in Cedarburg, Wis., reported that the company is working on a Signature Collection, a high-end line of fountains and other products.
“This line of three-plus products will focus on quality as always but a bit more trend and design,” she said. “They should fit nicely into the recent home décor styles.”
Kriser’s Natural Pet, which has multiple locations, just debuted the Torus watering system from Heyrex, which founder and CEO Brad Kriser said he is very excited about.
“It has a double filter and is portable, making it easy to give your dog or cat the cleanest, freshest water, regardless of where you are,” he said. “The technology is akin to Brita or Pur systems for humans, but brings it to a whole new level with the portability.”
At SuperZoo in Las Vegas in August, Neater Pet Brands launched an affordable hammered bowl line designed to appeal to customers who are more focused on fashion, said Jackie Becattini, marketing director for the Malvern, Pa., company.
Bowsers Pet Products in Toronto recently added the Artisan Feeder to its product line. The feeder is made from solid rubberwood and enhanced by neutral stain finishes, said Linda Brown, vice president of product development.
Educating the Consumer
“For some products, education is vital,” said Brad Kriser, founder and CEO of Kriser’s Natural Pet, which has multiple locations. “Most customers don’t know about things like whisker fatigue or slow feeding. They just think it’s ‘just how my pet is.’
“We have found, as with anything at Kriser’s, that asking questions and really listening to our customers enables us to introduce products to people,” he continued. “For us, it’s never about educating just to sell. We fundamentally believe in learning about the pet and introducing only what will be best for the pet to live a long and healthy life.”
The education chain of command needs to filter through employees as well as to the ultimate end user.
“Education is very important,” said Katie Pottenger, owner of Parker’s Holistic Pet Market in Chicago. “I make sure all of my employees are well versed on what types of bowls work best for what types of pets. We also utilize signage so consumers can start learning themselves.”
Jackie Becattini, marketing director at Neater Pet Brands in Malvern, Pa., agreed that education is important, especially with solution-based feeders.
“When you invent something that is unlike anything on the market, the consumer doesn’t know what it is or how it works,” she said. “It took us multiple packaging configurations, over 50 airings on QVC, and close to $1 million in TV advertising and PR to educate our customers on the benefits of the Neater Feeder. If you have a new product, you must demonstrate it for the consumer if you want it to be successful.”
Merchandising Feeders, Waterers and Bowls
Sometimes, merchandising by theme provides the added bonus of serving an educational purpose. For example, during Pet Hydration Month in July, the folks at West Lebanon Feed & Supply in West Lebanon, N.H., created an awareness of pet hydration by building endcaps that featured such products as water dishes, collapsible water bowls for travel and more, said owner Curt Jacques II.
“We also have an ongoing campaign on educating the consumers about pet safety on hot days from hot pavement issues for the dogs’ pads to the dangers of leaving animals in hot vehicles,” Jacques said. “We also tie in displays of water toys and life vests for dogs next to this endcap.”
Katie Pottenger, owner of Parker’s Holistic Pet Market in Chicago, said, “We’ve found that keeping bowls near the treats is the best place to merchandise them in our store. Separating the smaller cat-sized bowls with the cat supplies better merchandises them for cat owners. Cat owners tend to feel like their cats need different bowls than dogs.”
The bowl aisle typically is one of the slowest-moving ones in stores, so making it noticeable is key, said Jackie Becattini, marketing director for Neater Pet Brands in Malvern, Pa.
“By placing a floor display on an endcap or in the food aisle, you can bring innovative products to the consumer,” Becattini said. “Videos help merchandise the product along with using an actual Neater Feeder in the pet store for customers’ dogs; there is nothing better than a live demo from a dog.”
Shannon Supanich, media and public relations manager at Pioneer Pet Products in Cedarburg, Wis., agreed that seeing some of these products out of the package can help sales.
“We encourage our retailers to place one of the fountains out with water and have it running,” she said. “Once a consumer sees the product in action, it is so much easier for them to understand the benefits.”
This article originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of Pet Product News.