The best-selling dishes, mats and food storage containers provide pet owners with a durable product that performs well and looks good doing it.
Waggo’s hand glazed ceramic dog bowls and treat jars come in four colors to fit any style, according to the company.
The trends taking place in the home and kitchen market are impacting the food accessories segment of the pet industry, according to manufacturers and pet specialty retailers. When selecting dishes, mats and food storage solutions, pet owners want designs that complement their homes.
“Color and design are becoming increasingly important in this category,” said Terese James, product manager at Petmate in Arlington, Texas, adding that pet owners want products that fit their home décor.
Jessica Knight, director of Outback Tails in Australia, agreed.
“Pet owners are looking for something unique and beautiful that they can display in their home and not have to hide in the laundry room when guests come over,” she said.
Pet dishware increasingly mimics modern home-décor prints because “these bowls live in our homes,” said Regine Raab, owner and creative director of Waggo in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Ravi Singh, CEO of Advance Pet Products in Waterford, Mich., sees demand for fashion-forward accessories coming from millennials especially.
“We are seeing a shift to more trendy, aesthetically pleasing dishes, bowls, mats, and food storage for dogs and cats,” Singh said. “This is largely influenced by the amount of millennials who are adopting animals and want their dog to be just as trendy as they are.”
Industry insiders also said value is important for dog and cat owners purchasing these products.
“People want sturdy, food-safe, dish-washable and good-looking [items],” said Andy Schulman, owner of DoggyStyle NYC in New York, adding that “more and more folks are buying mats for under the bowls.”
Taylor Simms-Brown, vice president of sales for Messy Mutts, a division of Jascor Housewares in Toronto, also noted an uptick in interest for mats and other supplies.
“Dogs and cats tend to be a bit messy when they eat, so we are starting to see more solution-based products, whether it be bowl systems, mats or adjustable elevated feeders to help make managing a pet a little easier.”
Stainless steel is a popular material at The Family Pet Boutique in La Porte, Texas.
“We carry and sell a lot of stainless steel because it doesn’t hold onto bacteria,” said Dawn Dominick, groomer and manager. “We sell a lot of raw diet, so people use the stainless steel dishes to administer the food. Also, for dogs with allergies around their faces, most vets recommend stainless steel.”
Raab finds that heavyweight ceramic is also in demand, particularly as an alternative to plastic.
“The ceramic blends into homes in a more streamlined way and looks slightly elevated,” she said.
Introductions Zero In on Design
This year, manufacturers have introduced a variety of mealtime accessories for dogs and cats. Most go beyond function to include artistic elements owners can use to accentuate their homes.
Messy Mutts, a brand of Toronto-based Jascor Housewares, launched two sizes of silicone bowl mats that incorporate two metal bars on the outside edges to make it easier for owners to pick up and toss out any spilled food or liquid. It was designed to look good as well as keep the bowls slightly elevated so spilled water can evaporate instead of getting trapped under the bowl, according to the manufacturer.
Focusing on more higher-end options in functional solutions, Long Beach, Calif.-based Oré Originals released its Avalon Pet Collection. The ceramic bowls come in one size to hold 1 cup of food or water and feature a variety of patterns to mix and match.
Australia-based Outback Tails’ new collection of ceramic food and water bowls come in small and large sizes and feature the indigenous artwork of Pauline Napangardi Gallagher from Yuendumu in the country’s Northern Territory.
Aiming to address the health and wellness trend, Advance Pet Products in Waterford, Mich., introduced the Posture-Perfect Doggy Diner. Offered in three sizes, the diner is designed to help relieve back, spine and hip strain to make it easier for dogs to eat.
The Crockery Stoneware Collection, launched by Wilmington, Mass.-based PetRageous Designs in March, includes matching water and food bowls. Scripted on the outside of the bowls are the words “food” and “water,” and both feature the phrase “more, more, more” in the basin. The collection features a speckled texture and is designed to match popular crockery stoneware seen in other kitchen items.
Inspired by mudcloth prints, Waggo in Brooklyn, N.Y., recently launched its Mudcloth Mutt collection of ceramic bowls. In addition, the company added a black colorway to its line of classic ceramic dipper dog bowls.
Something for Everyone
Dog and cat owners remain concerned about price in this segment of pet lifestyle products. Industry insiders report that prices range from single to triple digits.
“Customers are still price sensitive in this category,” said Regine Raab, owner and creative director of Waggo in Brooklyn, N.Y. “So while they appreciate quality, because they often have to buy multiple bowls, the pricing can’t be too steep.”
Will Harrison, manager of At Your Service Pet Supplies & Grooming, which has two locations in Nevada, agreed.
“Price is a big factor,” he said. “If it’s a good deal, we’ll jump on that.”
Price levels in this category average about $3.99 for value, $9.99 for mid and $24.99 for premium, depending on material and construction, said Lisa Lowe, president and creative director of Oré Originals in Long Beach, Calif.
Taylor Simms-Brown, vice president of sales for Messy Mutts, a division of Toronto-based Jascor Housewares, reported a wider price range for dishes.
“Dishes can range from $5 to $100-plus, but not all are created equal,” Simms-Brown said. “If you invest in the right bowl system for your dog or cat, it might be the only one they ever need.”
Gretchen George, president of PetRageous Designs in Wilmington, Mass., reported similar findings.
“Pricing really is defined by capacity within a material category,” she said. “Handcrafted stoneware will clearly command a higher price than plastic.”
Dog and cat owners demand value for their money, said Terese James, product manager at Petmate in Arlington, Texas.
“Open, mid-tier and premium price points go with a good, better, best assortment,” she said. “Customers are increasingly looking at ‘value’ as opposed to just price today. They are looking for a product that meets their needs and has good construction and quality for the pricing tier.”