Summer Is Calling
Get pet owners thinking about summer now so that they’re ready for whatever the season has in store.
With summer approaching, pet specialty retailers can expect pet owners to start spending more time outdoors and taking more trips, which means they’ll be in the market for a wide variety of products that are perfect for summertime adventures.
The popularity of summer-related products continues to rise as owners are taking their pets along with them to the beach, the mountains, the river and other outdoor destinations, said Sherry Redwine, co-owner of Odyssey Pets in Dallas. Pet owners are seeking products that will help facilitate both fun and safety during these types of trips.
“They’re getting out and getting more active, and they are looking for good-quality and stylish gear such as life jackets, backpacks, cooling vests, floating toys, shoes, boots, frisbees, fetch toys and more,” Redwine said.
Lorin Grow, owner of Furry Face in Redlands, Calif., added that in the summer, pet owners typically think about health issues—and, very often, pets’ skin.
“Itchy skin, allergies, and fleas and ticks are all issues that come to mind,” Grow said. “So many pet parents are on the hunt for that ‘magic fix.’ But the fix is different from animal to animal, depending on the cause.”
Grow said it’s important for pet owners to have a lot of options to meet a host of different needs that arise come summertime.
Robin Kershner, executive vice president of Sykesville, Md.-based Pet Palette, said that during the season the distributor sees an uptick in sales of a variety of summer-related products such as hydrating bottles like Gulpy or H204K9, floating toys from Hunter, ZippyPaws, goDog and VIP, and flotation devices.
“Walking also increases in the summer, especially in more rugged places, so we see EzyDog products increase in sales as they are targeted for outdoorsy-type dogs,” Kershner said.
Get Creative with Themed Displays
Brightly colored window displays are how Sherry Redwine, co-owner of Odyssey Pets in Dallas, said she gets customers in the mood for summer. Color can play a strong role in creating a mood and influencing sales.
“We do a floaty toy, life vest and waterproof collar endcap as well,” she said. “And products like exercise pens are great for campsites and RV parks so you can let your dog roam around without actually being ‘loose.’ Often, it just comes down to giving your customers ideas.”
Using props in displays can go a long way in getting consumers to think about summer, said Robin Kershner, executive vice president of Sykesville, Md.-based Pet Palette.
“Items like sand, beach towels, pails or small beach chairs can make customers feel like it’s summer,” Kershner said. “For those close to the mountains, a camping or hiking theme would help customers to see some of the products available to them to make their pets more comfortable and safe.”
Tying other themes into the summer category is also valuable, she said.
“Summer themes such as travel or outdoor activities are very important,” Kershner said. “In summer you also see pets traveling more, and this means an emphasis on car safety and plane carriers.”
Betsy Hintzmann, co-owner and partner of Four Dogs Pet Supplies in Charlotte, N.C., said that stores typically tie a health and safety theme in with their summer products. From sunscreen and bug spray to paw protection and travel gear, there are a lot of products that pet owners can use to help protect their animals in the summer, she said.
“Sometimes all it takes is a gentle reminder to pick up those types of products so that you’re ready for the season,” Hintzmann said. “We always change our front display based on season and will create a summer-themed display with items that promote health and safety during activities like backpacking or watersports.”
Dr. Jyl Rubin, DVM, founder of PetnPeopl in Orangevale, Calif., said that at her veterinary practice she constantly changes the front window display based on season and pertinence.
“Staying on top of timely subject material is so important and positions you as an expert to your customers,” Rubin said. “It’s a great way to get them thinking about what products they might need for the upcoming season.”
Generating Interest with Social Media
Driving pet owners into your store with social media is an effective way to encourage them to start thinking about summer-related products.
“Social media is huge and seemingly getting bigger by the minute,” said Mark Watkins, sales manager of ZippyPaws in Chino, Calif. “Coordinating contests or campaigns in various social media channels would benefit retailers immensely.”
However, Jamaica Winship, vice president of business development for Gamma2 in Carlsbad, Calif., pointed out that without a strong following, retailers are not going to drive traffic into the store with their social media accounts. She recommends partnering with a dog that already has a following.
“Find a dog on Instagram that has a good base of 10,000 to 20,000 followers and ask the owner of the account to take a photo or video of the dog with your store products,” Winship said. “Now they’re promoting your store and you have some real content to share with your fans to get more people interested.”
Sherry Redwine, co-owner of Odyssey Pets in Dallas, said that the store has teamed up with pet food companies to offer contests with exciting giveaways such as a GoPro or a bicycle. Social media is an excellent place to promote these contests.
“The customers get an entry for every bag of food they buy from that company,” Redwine said.
Toys and More
Robin Kershner, executive vice president of Sykesville, Md.-based Pet Palette, said the distributor is carrying several new products, including Up Country’s new summer-themed ribbon collars and leads, The Green Pet Shop’s cooling mats, and Lulubelles’ new sea creatures. Kershner is also the founder of Alexandria, Va.-based Huxley & Kent, which has new summer-themed bows, ties and accessories as well as the Back Out Brake Harness, which prevents dogs from backing out of it.
Worcester, Mass.-based RuffDawg has created the indestructible Dawg-Nut, a toy with a lifetime guarantee, said Jerry Moffet, vice president of sales and marketing. The toy comes in two sizes, is made in the USA, floats and features neon colors.
Gamma2 in Carlsbad, Calif., recently redesigned the labeling on its Travel-Tainer, an all-in-one portable feeding system, said Jamaica Winship, vice president of business development.