Boost Healthfulness, Bolster Sales
Supplements formulated specifically for cats can help draw health-conscious pet owners into your store.
The image of “cat people” is changing, according to Courtney Taylor, director of customer care and marketing for Boulder, Colo.-based In Clover.
“Traditionally, those who preferred cats were akin to the ‘geeks,’ and those who preferred dogs were the ‘cool kids,’” she said. “Today, having a cat is no longer seen as a substitute for having a dog. Cat guardians are proud of their feline friends and are demanding products up to par with the offerings for dogs.”
To meet that demand, supplement manufacturers offer a range of products formulated specifically with cats in mind, including everything from multivitamins to joint supplements, calming formulas and immune support recipes. Available in powders, liquids, capsules and chews, the supplements address specific feline health concerns, such as urinary tract health, hairballs, digestive health and more.
Toni Shelaske, owner of Healthy Pet Products, which has two stores in the Pittsburgh area, stocks a range of cat supplement formulas: multivitamin, urinary health, digestive health, skin and coat, immune health and joint support.
“I focus on offering supplements that contain pure and active ingredients without fillers, chemical colors or flavorings,” she said.
Kahoots in Norco, Calif., stocks a similar range of supplements, as well as stool deodorizer formulas, senior care products and hairball aids. Cat owners seek out the hairball remedies more frequently than other supplements, staff said, noting that some customers will purchase supplements geared toward specific medical conditions based on the recommendations of their veterinarians.
Amy Paris, CEO and founder of The Pet Health People LLC, the maker of Licks Pill-Free Solutions in Chicago, said cat owners should consult their veterinarian before starting a supplement routine.
At Long Leash on Life in Albuquerque, N.M., customers can choose from a range of supplements geared toward supporting senior cats. The store stocks Pet Naturals of Vermont brand Daily Best Senior chews and Liquid Health’s Joint Purr-Fection glucosamine supplement, among others.
“We encourage pet parents of middle-aged pets to start a joint support regimen as soon as possible to both support the joint and help prevent joint degradation/injuries,” said Norm Shrout, co-owner. “Joint Purr-Fection … is an all-around neutral joint support liquid that is easy to dispense and highly effective in most cats.”
Ease of administration remains a top priority among cat owners, In Clover’s Taylor said. Other priorities include value and efficacy.
Avivagen strives to offer value to cat owners with its Vivamune Vital Health3 Chews for Cats.
“Cat owners are looking for supplements that offer multiple health benefits in a single daily dose,” said Tracy Gillett, marketing manager for the Ottawa, Ontario, Canada-based company. “These superchews pack triple the health punch, all in a single daily dose.”
Vivamune Vital Health3 Chews are formulated to support a cat’s immune system and help maintain healthy skin, joints and digestion, Gillett added.
As staff at Kahoots noted, not all cat owners are aware of the benefits of feline supplements. How can retailers educate customers and boost supplement sales?
At Long Leash on Life, testimonials from satisfied customers help spur new sales. Shrout also groups supplements with complementary products, such as food and treats.
“Some products we carry contain senior-based ingredients and have been recommended in conjunction with coordinating products,” he said, noting that the store also reaches out to customers via social media.
Shelaske at Healthy Pet Products also uses display techniques to highlight supplements in her store but concentrates more on interaction with individual customers to promote sales, she said.
“It’s all about conversation in my stores,” she said. “I focus on educating my staff in order to make customers aware of [supplements’] importance.”
Manufacturers offer a variety of marketing and informational materials to help retailers educate employees.
In Clover offers educational programs and marketing materials, including literature, selling guides, in-store displays and online educational resources.
“The array of options allows retailers to select and utilize the tools most helpful for their unique situations,” Taylor said.
Online resources can be found at the Avivagen website, along with a live chat feature that puts retailers in touch with Avivagen team members.
The phrase “pilling the cat” has become cliché for a reason: Cats are notorious for their ability to avoid eating or drinking something—anything—they don’t find tasty. Owners hoping to add supplements to their cats’ diets, therefore, seek products their pets will actually ingest.
“Cats are finicky, and getting the supplements into them is difficult,” said Toni Shelaske, owner of Healthy Pet Products, which has two stores in the Pittsburgh area. “That is why we see so many in treat form for cats.”
Indeed, many supplement manufacturers offer their formulas in “soft chew” form to increase the products’ appeal to cats. Such is the case with the Vivamune Vital Health3 Chews for Cats from Avivagen of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
“The chews are formulated to look and taste like a treat, so your cat gets vital health support in a delicious chew,” said Tracy Gillett, Avivagen’s marketing manager. “After all, even the best supplement is useless if you can’t get your cat to take it.”
As its name implies, making supplement time as easy as possible is the founding reason behind The Pet Health People LLC’s Licks Pill-Free Solutions products. The company offers a full line of supplements in an “easy-to-administer liquid form,” said Amy Paris, CEO and founder of the Chicago-based company.
To provide still another option for owners of finicky cats, several manufacturers offer supplements in powdered or gel form. Tomlyn of Fort Worth, Texas, offers L-lysine powder (typically used with cats with feline herpes), while NaturVet, a brand of Garmon Corp. in Temecula, Calif., offers a digestive enzyme powder as well as joint support and hairball aid gels.—SNH
This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of Pet Product News