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Ready to Groom

Customers are increasingly seeking natural grooming products, and pet specialty retailers are boosting their offerings to capitalize on the trend.


The natural grooming product category is expanding as more consumers head to their local pet stores in search of between-bath and functional solutions, as well as formulas suited for cats, industry participants reported.

Dog owners have long sought out natural grooming products, but a new trend has seen cat owners more interested of late. As manufacturers compete for a share in the cat grooming market, consumers can expect to see a rise in cat-friendly products. 

“While most grooming products are made for dogs, the market is shifting toward our feline companions,” said Michelle Drnek, wholesale manager for Shake Organic Pet in Dover, N.H. “Pet parents in a multipet household want products that can be used on both dogs and cats. Shake Organic Pet is the first company in the U.S. to offer a complete line of holistic grooming and wellness products made for dogs and cats.”

No matter the type of pet, however, when it comes to natural grooming products, pet owners are looking for safe, effective solutions, said James Brandly, copywriter for TropiClean in Wentzville, Mo.

“They’re seeking products with key ingredients and easy-to-read packaging with specific call-outs,” he said. 

Natural grooming products are following the trends in human grooming products, said Andrea Margelis, manager of Pets Naturally in Traverse City, Mich.

“Grooming products are offering herbal shampoos, aromatherapy and sulfate-free options, and they use ingredients that you commonly find in human products,” she said. “There are more products just to clean your pet, but they offer additional benefits such as flea and tick protection or shampoo that relieves itching due to skin allergies.”

Kim Barnes, owner of New England Dog Biscuit Pet Supply & Bakery in Salem, Mass., said in-between-bath care is a rising trend in natural grooming. 

“Consumers are looking for products that keep their pets clean and feeling their best in between bath time,” she said. “These products include no-rinse shampoos, bath sprays and dry shampoo.”

Justin Pohl, vice president of Longview, Texas-based BioDerm Laboratories, maker of the Bio-Groom brand, said the biggest trend he’s noticed in the natural grooming market is sulfate-free shampoos.

“One of [our] very first products introduced in 1971 was the Protein Lanolin Shampoo, which has been sulfate free long before sulfate free was a buzzword in the market we know today,” he said.

“Another step that Bio-Groom does to ensure quality is that we put the full ingredient list on each of our products. We put the ingredients in the INCI [International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredients] name. Putting the INCI name on the label is important because those are recognized worldwide so the customer can see exactly what is in the product they are purchasing.” 

Products to Pamper

Bio-Groom, made by Longview, Texas-based BioDerm Laboratories, recently introduced a line of sulfate-free shampoos using the fruit of the baobab tree, also known as the tree of life. 
“Natural Scents is wonderful for the fact that the baobab instantly hydrates, moisturizes and rejuvenates the skin and coat,” said Justin Pohl, vice president. “Another new product is our Facial Foamer. What sets this apart from the competition is that it offers the perfect naturally mild, safe solution for cleaning around your pet’s face, eyes, ears, nose and mouth.”

In 2017, aTobiko Organic Dog rebranded to Shake Organic Pet in response to numerous requests from customers and pet specialty retailers looking for organic cat grooming products. The newly branded company, based in Dover, N.H., is introducing two products in 2018: Organic Bath Spritz and Organic No-Rinse Shampoo for care in between baths.

Samples Sell

Jessica Vickery, supervisor of the dog and cat department at B&B Pet Stop in Mobile, Ala., said the biggest trends she is seeing in natural grooming include coconut oil and argan oil.

“To sell more, knowing three quick facts about coconut oil that are not common knowledge helps,” she said. “Customers have probably already heard it is a good conditioner, but do they know it has an SPF of 4 to shield from the sun or that it helps remove dirt as well as condition without being a harsh soap?”

Shake Organic Pet provides retailers with in-store literature and rack cards that have information about the company’s products to help better educate and market to consumers, said Michelle Drnek, wholesale manager for the Dover, N.H.-based company.

“One great way to market products in your store is to offer testers and samples that the customer can try at home or in-store,” Drnek said. “Many manufacturers are happy to send samples to retailers at their request. We like to provide our retailers with both in-store testers and sample-sized products.”

Social media can help push grooming products, said Justin Pohl, vice president of Longview, Texas-based BioDerm Laboratories, maker of Bio-Groom products. 

“You can instantly interact with your customer base, and you can have contests on your company page along with many other ideas,” Pohl said. “We also rely on word-of-mouth by the consumer. Each consumer is telling their story of the experience they had while using the product.”

Showcasing Products 

Pets Naturally in Traverse City, Mich., displays all its grooming products near the register for last-minute add-ons.  

“Most people don’t come in looking for shampoos unless they are dealing with certain issues, so displaying them up front on a dark wood shelf makes the bottles pop, thus drawing the consumers’ eyes to the area,” said manager Andrea Margelis. 

At B&B Pet Stop in Mobile, Ala., all of the natural grooming products are in their own section of the grooming aisle with some images of natural things such as trees and bamboo to convey an earthy feel, said Jessica Vickery, supervisor of the store’s dog and cat department.

“Using buzzwords on signs like ‘organic,’ ‘soap free’ and ‘all natural’ will help sales,” she added.

Michelle Drnek, wholesale manager for Shake Organic Pet in Dover, N.H., said retailers should purchase rack card holders for informational brochures and place them next to the product lines so that customers can easily access them.

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