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What Pet Owners Seek from Grooming Products

Consumers are receptive to grooming products with indulgent properties and natural, safe ingredients.


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Owners are seeking out premium grooming products to pamper their pets. Both manufacturers and pet specialty retailers report that shoppers are more cognizant of ingredients and concerned about safety than in years past, which means natural grooming products are coming out on top.

“More pet parents than ever are concerned about the toxins in products—whether they are being inhaled or absorbed—and are looking for grooming products that they can feel safe using on their pets,” said Denise Strong, owner of Pawz on Main in Cottonwood, Ariz. “Since I only carry natural products, I think our customers appreciate that they can pick anything and know it has already been researched and is safe.”

Consumers are looking more closely at ingredient lists, manufacturers report.

“Grooming trends for ingredients have been focused on organic and all-natural ingredients as more and more customers are reading labels,” said Beth Sommers, president and chief merchandising officer of Pura Naturals Pet in Ardsley, N.Y. “[Cannabidiol] CBD is still playing an important role with wellness, too. As for fragrances, consumers are understanding that a natural scent is a safer option, with lavender still leading as a top seller.”

Alison Schwartz, general manager of All Pets Considered in Greensboro, N.C., said that there is no question scent is still important to pet owners, but that anything that smells too perfumelike is a big turnoff. This is certainly a change from the past, when the mindset was the stronger the fragrance, the better.

“I think customers automatically associate a strong perfume smell with chemicals, and that’s exactly what they’re trying to avoid,” Schwartz said. “Pet parents are looking for more naturally scented products that have a light scent which isn’t overpowering.”

For Starla Carter, manager of Denny’s Pet World in Kirkland, Wash., scent remains a key factor that drives sales, but she agrees that fragrances should be mild.

“Pet parents are obviously associating the smell from the bottle with what their pet will smell like after use, and they don’t want a super-strong scent,” Carter said. “That’s why the coconut-based cleansers we sell seem to do very well—they’re pleasant and not too strong. I also think pet parents associate perfumes with synthetics, and they’re looking for something natural. They want something that they know is moisturizing and safe for their pet’s skin.”

Consumer Preferences

Going Premium

Products that are safe and all natural also tend to be premium, and pet specialty retailers and manufacturers alike reported that pet owners are willing to make that investment—as long as they feel confident it will pay off. In fact, many pet owners will intentionally seek out higher-end grooming products because they understand the benefits.

“Studies show that consumers are willing to pay a premium for their pets on products that are healthier,” said Beth Sommers, president and chief merchandising officer for Pura Naturals Pet in Ardsley, N.Y. “This runs the gamut of food and treats to wellness and grooming. As more pets are considered family and people take on healthier lifestyle choices with natural and organic products for themselves, they see the overall value, and then look for these products for their family pets.”

Alison Schwartz, general manager of All Pets Considered in Greensboro, N.C., said that she is definitely seeing this trend across the board when it comes to purchasing pet products.

“Pet parents want overall better products these days,” she said. “There used to be this mindset that in terms of grooming, using a baby shampoo or a dish soap was enough, but that’s simply not acceptable to pet parents who have come to understand that their pets need species-appropriate products. There’s more awareness, and most pet parents know the pH balance of pet skin is not the same as human skin and, therefore, requires a different product.”

And today’s shoppers recognize the value of using certain ingredients.

“We want the best for our pets, and the more we learn about beneficial ingredients in our pets’ grooming care, the more we want them for our pets,” said Gina Dial, vice president of sales and marketing for John Paul Pet in Ventura, Calif.

Consumers are also taking the initiative to educate themselves.

“More consumers are willing to buy premium grooming products today because they educate themselves about ingredients and are willing to spend a few extra dollars to enhance the lives of their furry family members,” said Mauro Spina, founder of Spina Organics in Beverly Hills, Calif. “They read the label with a closer eye than ever before.”

Spina said that pet owners are also willing to invest if it means making their pet feel pampered.

“Pets are now part of the family,” Spina added. “If I’m going out with my pet, I want my pet to look as good and smell as good as I do.”

Success with Samples

Retailers can encourage consumers to try something new and help them in the decision-making process by offering samples of grooming products.

“It’s always a good idea to sample products,” said Gina Dial, vice president of sales and marketing for John Paul Pet in Ventura, Calif. “With so many grooming products on the shelf, choices are difficult to make. Along with that, a great display idea would be to display everything an owner would need to do a full bath—a one-stop shopping experience for pet owners.”

For Starla Carter, manager of Denny’s Pet World in Kirkland, Wash., these concepts have worked well. She said that the products used in the in-store dog wash often end up being those that sell the best for home use.

“We use the free samples that we get from manufacturers in our dog wash and almost always see a big boost from that,” Carter said. “Like anything, people love to try before they buy, and this gives them that opportunity.”

New Products

Products to Pamper and Cleanse

Several new products are enhancing the grooming category with skin-pampering, natural ingredients.

This month at Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Fla., Pura Naturals Pet is adding to its all-natural wipes category with an organic aloe vera eye wipe and a canine flea and tick wipe that is made with organic cedar and peppermint oil.

In addition, Pura Naturals Pet will be adding to its Between Bath Fresheners line with soothing organic oatmeal and calendula in all-natural scents of lavender and fresh cotton. These spritzers play off the success of the company’s in-between bath waterless shampoos, said Beth Sommers, president and chief merchandising officer for the Ardsley, N.Y-based company. Pura Naturals Pet will also debut its professional Groomers Line, which has been in testing and has been “receiving extremely positive reviews for both its ingredients as well as its time-saving abilities,” she added.

This spring, Spina Organics in Beverly Hills, Calif., will introduce a tick and flea body wash with cedar wood oil extract that naturally repels these pests. The company is also coming out with an unscented, tear-free face wash with chamomile and cucumber to brighten, moisturize and refresh a pet’s face, said founder Mauro Spina.

John Paul Pet will expand its oatmeal line this spring. Oatmeal Waterless Foam Cleanser, Oatmeal Puppy Shampoo and Oatmeal Wipes will be joining the line’s Oatmeal Shampoo, Oatmeal Conditioning Rinse and Oatmeal Spray. The products combine oats with sweet almond oil, aloe and chamomile for additional soothing benefits and a natural almond fragrance.

Due to the history of their use, consumers recognize oats and oatmeal as reliable remedies for pets with dry, itchy skin, said Gina Dial, vice president of sales and marketing for the Ventura, Calif.-based company.

“Oats as an ingredient has long been used for dry and itchy skin,” she said. “Oatmeal in a bath or paste for relieving itchiness and inflammation has been used since around 2000 B.C. in Egypt. Various forms of oats were used to treat skin conditions including eczema, burns and many other inflammations. Many medicated shampoos prescribed by veterinarians are oat based, and oatmeal shampoos for pets, in general, are among the most popular.” 

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