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Grooming To Succeed

Expert tips and techniques for merchandising the rapidly growing grooming products category.


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A trip to the salon can be a lot of fun for both pets and their owners, but many folks groom their pets at home or provide a little touchup in between grooming appointments.

Careful attention to product placement and displays can go a long way toward ensuring your customers know your store is the place to purchase shampoos, conditioners and anything else a pet needs to stay smelling fresh and looking great. 

An adjacent or in-store grooming salon certainly can help retailers merchandise grooming products, as is the case with Parker’s, A Natural Dog & Cat Market in Chicago, which employs full-time groomers and offers a self-wash, said owner Katie Pottenger. The store carries a full array of grooming products, and Pottenger said that keeping these products visible is the key.

“Our ‘spa supplies,’ as we call them, are front and center near the supplements,” Pottenger said. “It’s easy to put them in the back and not think of selling them, but they are an easy high-margin sale, especially to new pet parents. We always have testers available so people can smell different scents, and we’re trained on the differences between the shampoos and the potential coat benefits.” 

Another merchandising tip she employs is to sell the same shampoo that the groomers use on site.

Furry Face in Redlands, Calif., also offers full grooming services for dogs as well as nail trims for small animals, said Lorin Grow, owner. 

“Sell in front what you use in the back,” Grow said. “Give free brushing lessons. Group product choices together within categories. Merchandise specific-use products both in general grooming as well as specific categories. For example, flea and tick shampoos can be in both general grooming and also in the flea and tick area.” 

Grooming to Succeed
Carrie Brenner/PPN LLC at Furly's

In addition, Grow recommends moving merchandise around; even older merchandise can look new if it’s placed in another space. 

“It’s interesting and refreshing. Change is good,” she said.

Limited space can pose challenges to displaying merchandise. 

Premier Pet Supply runs into this issue, particularly as it stocks a huge variety of home grooming products, including 20 varieties of shampoo lines and de-shedding products, which are very popular, said Samantha Shipley, merchandising consultant with the Beverly Hills, Mich., retailer. 

“I put displays up front if there is a product we feel very strongly about,” Shipley said. “Our customers have come to learn that if a product is up front, it has our seal of approval. Also we certainly use signage to our advantage here; our customers love to quickly read the benefits of a product to help them in their decision making.” 

Another option is to display all grooming products in a designated area. 

“Merchandising grooming products with other essential pet products is recommended to keep them top of mind, especially for new pet owners,” said Eva Moreno, assistant product manager of grooming for Petmate in Arlington, Texas. “Stock brushes, combs and nail trimmers with other bathing items like shampoo to create a dedicated grooming section so it’s easily found by consumers in-store.” 

Petmate provides a floor-stand rack to help merchandise its JW Pet-brand grooming products, particularly for those retailers with limited space, Moreno said.

First impressions are key, and products with creative packaging design have an advantage. Yet packaging should be informative as well.

“It is important to us that we have a clean packaging that clearly explains what the product does,” said Eric Bittman, owner of Warren London in Valencia, Calif. “For products like our nail polish pens, we like to show pictures of the nail art and hope that draws an interest to the product.” 

JW Pet Gripsoft grooming tools have helpful tips on their packaging so that consumers can learn how to correctly use the tools and feel confident grooming pets at home, Moreno said. Offering user-friendly, functional grooming products is key to creating brand-loyal customers, Moreno added.

Warren London provides retailers with displays and posters so that people know that the products are USA-made and are natural, two factors that Bittman said are important to many consumers. The company also provides samples for customers to test on their pets in-store, he added.

The Buildup
With the large array of grooming products available to the consumer, manufacturers and retailers must possess clear, strong knowledge about each. 

Parker’s posts signage about different products and holds Skype sessions with manufacturer reps to learn about their companies’ products.

Educational blog posts and social media help JW Pet spread the word about its products, answer common questions and provide solutions for customers.

Furry Face stresses education as part of its business model. 

“We ask questions to help determine the perceived need, the actual need and show them the best result to fulfill that need,” Grow said. “Along with that, we explain how and why what we’re recommending will be that fix. We want clients to know what they should expect from the use of the products. Multiple-area merchandising both in general as well as specific-need areas can go a long way to exhibiting and comparing options.” 

There is always someone on staff at Premier Pet Supply at any given time who is an expert in grooming products, Shipley said. 

“Our strategies are simple: carry what our customers want and teach them how to use any of our products they may be unsure of,” Shipley said.

New York-based Dog Fashion Spa recognizes that retailer customers have one thing in common. 

“They don’t believe in product just sitting on the shelves ‘selling itself,’” said Elena Volnova, CEO. “They ask questions and learn about the benefits of each product. They use it on their own dogs and love it. Finally, they talk to their customers and ask specific questions about their grooming habits.” 

Incorporating a grooming section into a retail shop adds more sales revenue for these types of products, particularly when the grooming staff and other employees can speak confidently about the products that they carry, Volnova added.

In addition to supporting its retail partners with store fixtures, signage, free testers and small samples for customers, Dog Fashion Spa sends a company representative to stores to educate staff about the company’s products.

Growth of the Grooming Market

 

People are taking better care of their pets overall, and retailers report that the grooming market is following suit, lending itself to more merchandising opportunities. 

“People definitely are maintaining their pets’ coats better at home,” said Katie Pottenger, owner of Parker’s, A Natural Dog & Cat Market in Chicago. “For our grooming customers who also want to bathe at home, we set them up with a kit of the proper brushes and shampoos for their dogs’ coats and teach them proper brushing techniques.” 

“There has been a huge increase in sales in the home use of grooming products over the last 10 years,” said Eric Bittman, owner of Warren London in Valencia, Calif. “Customers, overall, are paying more attention to their dogs and treating them like part of the family. It’s very important to keep a clean dog that sleeps in their bed and lays all over the furniture. Home-grooming use has increased because between grooms there are so many products to keep a dog happy and feeling great.” 

Cost savings is another major factor in the rise of sales in home grooming products, said Samantha Shipley, merchandising consultant with Premier Pet Supply in Beverly Hills, Mich. 

“I attribute the upswing to many people just wanting to save more money,” she said. “Professional grooming is certainly an ongoing cost for many pet owners, and now there are so many products on the market to help owners do everything right from their own home. Even fur trimming can be learned, and many of our customers have taken the plunge into at-home grooming.”—HD

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