Canine bedding has transcended basic function to embrace comfort, style, durability and specialty features.
The restorative power of tranquil repose is akin to Nirvana for humans. Pet owners are aware that their furry companions also value this refreshment. However, creature comforts aside, modern dog bedding also complements interior design, travels well and cleans with ease.
“Consumers are seeking the best solution for their dogs,” said Julia Gillespie, communications director for Wellness Mats in Troy, Mich.
Further, as pets age, comfort considerations increase, she added.
Bedding with optimum support and cushioning, as well as sure footing so there is no hesitation with getting up and lying down, are sought-after qualities, according to Gillespie.
Pet owners are also looking for value. However, with pets happily ensconced in the home as family members, sleeping accommodations must be not only functional, but upscale and decorative.
“Clients are always looking for good value, which is why we favor stocking well-constructed, stylish beds,” said Janene Zakrajsek, co-founder and chief creative officer for Pussy & Pooch Pethouse and Pawbar, which has locations in Southern California. “However, there is a definite process to convincing most clients that premium bedding is truly worth the extra cost.”
Zakrajsek also noted an increasing demand for orthopedic bedding options, as well as durability for dogs that might be chewers.
“Teepees are also super-hot right now; pet owners are loving the stylish little hideaway concept,” Zakrajsek added.
Roberta MacDowell, president of Snappy Snoozers in Loxahatchee, Fla., said that along with durability, cleaning ease is a sought after characteristic.
“There are many beautiful pet beds on the market that may be comfortable; however, some are not constructed for standard washing machines and may lose shape, size and comfort in the process,” said MacDowell.
Bobby Wise, designer and owner of George, which has stores in California, noted a strong trend toward bedding featuring a sidewall or “bumper.”
“Owners and pups can’t get enough of this style of bed,” Wise said.
Wise added that with bedding that commands such a visual presence in many homes, colors and textures play a strong role in consumer demand.
“We will do limited runs of our beds in different fabrics so that we can seasonally adjust our selection and influence the look of our shops,” Wise said. “It’s fun to be able to play with color and textures.”
While bedding is not a strong seller at The Quirky Pet in Montpelier, Vt., owner Cindra Conison said that mats from Purple Pebble are popular with her customers.
“People love the softness and unstuffed nature of the pad,” she said. “It can be used in a crate, a car seat or on the floor. It’s washable and is U.S. made.”
When it comes to decorative bedding, color choice is central to creating an attractive sleeping corner, said Roberta MacDowell, president of Snappy Snoozers in Loxahatchee, Fla.
For this reason, a summer launch is planned for Snappy Snoozers’ replacement quilt colors, MacDowell said.
“We currently offer solid colors, but, due to the demand for prints, we are adding a plaid and camouflage design,” she said.
Additionally, a 38-inch by 54-inch by 5-inch bed for larger dogs recently joined Snappy Snoozers’ offerings.
Wellness Mats introduced extra-large and extra-small sizes to its assortment of rounded and rectangular Pet Mats, said Julia Gillespie, communications director for the Troy, Mich.-based company.
“They are the perfect size for most medium and larger-breed dogs,” Gillespie said. “Pet parents love them because they offer comfort and support, are inherently antimicrobial, a snap to clean and will not absorb liquids or odors.”
To answer frequent customer requests for new product colors, Michael Leung, co-founder and lead product designer for Sleepypod in Pasadena, Calif., said the company will unveil a new, limited-edition color this month.
“The Sleepypod mobile pet bed not only converts into a carrier, but also a car seat,” Leung said. “The call for more color options comes from Sleepypod’s existing customers, and supports the trend toward multiple beds and bedding purchases for a single pet.”
The Sleep Curve
“Because pets spend much of their time sleeping or lounging, it’s very important to provide them with extremely comfortable bedding,” said Roberta MacDowell, president of Snappy Snoozers in Loxahatchee, Fla.
Opening a dialogue will determine the appropriate product for a customer’s lifestyle and help narrow the selection process, said Michael Leung, the co-founder and lead product designer for Sleepypod in Pasadena, Calif.
The ability to engage a client in conversation and understand their needs is key in making the best recommendation for both pet comfort and customer satisfaction, said Janene Zakrajsek, co-founder and chief creative officer for Pussy & Pooch Pethouse and Pawbar, which has locations in Southern California.
“Awareness of the different sleeping habits and preferences of a pet will lead to an understanding of their behavior in the home environment, and this is helpful in selecting a bed to suit their style,” Zakrajsek said.
Beyond comfort, ensuring that the beds are made to last, can be easily cleaned and sanitized, and travel well are key considerations in the selection process, MacDowell said.
Further, a creative flair combined with knowledge of the various types of beds on the market are pivotal employee attributes, Zakrajsek said.
“Our specialty is helping our clients to integrate another stylish accessory within their home,” Zakrajsek said. “We do a lot of custom orders, and having an eye for design or style definitely helps to inspire clients when considering something beyond a mediocre blob on the floor.”
Along with design savvy, employee understanding of the wearability and washability of a bed are crucial qualities, said Bobby Wise, designer and owner of George, which has stores in California.
“Here in the Bay Area, we find that most people have a fairly heightened level of design ‘smarts,’ and the majority of our customers know exactly what they want,” Wise said.
Dedicated to Comfort
At Pussy & Pooch Pethouse and Pawbar, which has locations in Southern California, dedicated bedding display areas differ with the design layout of each store, said Janene Zakrajsek, co-founder and chief creative officer.
For example, a location with lofted ceilings features a vertical display, while another store presents a horizontal and staggered presentation that will accommodate differing types of bedding.
“In our Beverly Hills store, we have uniquely customized fixturing featuring a Jax & Bones design-your-own-bedding gallery,” Zakrajsek said. “In addition, our mixed bedding wall can display dozens of dog and cat bed options from a range of different brands, including Bowsers, P.L.A.Y., Big Shrimpy, Luca for Dogs, Lion + Wolf, Wildebeest and more.”
Bedding featuring eco-friendly and recycled materials also can help increase sales, according to Jusak Yang Bernhard, co-owner of TailsSpin Pet Stuff, which has locations in Georgia.
“Shelf talkers and staff education are both effective in pinpointing product manufacturing methods,” he said. “We feel one-on-one conversation is the most effective selling technique; therefore, increased knowledge is preferred within our staff.”
Placing a sample mat on the floor at the checkout counter will allow customers to stand on it and feel the difference, said Julia Gillespie, communications director for Wellness Mats in Troy, Mich.
“During this time, the sales associate can introduce the mat [and] discuss why it is so different or necessary for older dogs,” Gillespie said. “It’s an ‘ah-ha’ moment.”
Bobby Wise, designer and owner of George, which has stores in California, summed up the cornerstone of the pet bedding marketing.
“Exposure, exposure, exposure,” he said.