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Tackling a Pesky Problem

The flea and tick control category continues to evolve with new options emerging to meet various customer demands and needs.


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Pet owner demand for all-natural products for dogs and cats is on the rise, and the flea and tick control category is no exception. Both manufacturers and retailers are seeing movement toward products that control pests using natural ingredients. 

“Pet parents continue to become more health-conscious and seek high-quality, natural products like ours to protect the ones they love,” said Stephanie Boone, founder and CEO of Wondercide Natural Products in Austin, Texas. “In response, the industry is trending toward natural flea and tick products that are safe for the entire family.”

James Brandly, marketing coordinator for TropiClean in Wentzville, Mo., has seen this same trend.

“Pet parents seek natural, effective products and solutions that fit their lifestyle and are safe to use,” he said.

Samantha Henson, clinical pet nutritionist and product manager for Premier Pet Supply in Beverly Hills, Mich., said the biggest trend she has seen is the interest in switching over to natural preventives. 

“Wondercide has become extremely popular because you can spray it on your pets, and also anywhere in your home,” she said. “It is safe and can be touched by children without worry of chemical reactions. Customers also like it because they do not have to buy separate products for their dog and their cat.”

The Time and Place

Flea and tick control products can be in demand year-round, especially depending on the geographic region. However, at some times during the year, the category takes center stage. 

Christine Mallar, co-owner of Green Dog Pet Supply in Portland, Ore., pays special attention to this category during flea and tick season.

“We have it as a category in our supplement section, but we create displays on a table a few times a year when fleas are plentiful, using flea repellants, flea and tick removal devices, flea shampoos, immune support and nutrition tips—a healthy immune system and an excellent diet are critical to making pets less susceptible to infestation,” she said. “We also post blogs or create newsletter articles on natural prevention and treatment options around that same time.”

Samantha Henson, clinical pet nutritionist and product manager for Premier Pet Supply in Beverly Hills, Mich., devotes a special section of her store to the category.

“We now have a full four square feet for flea and tick products, right in the middle of the health aisle, and we also have it in one of the cat aisles,” she said. “We use eye-catching signage as well to draw customers in.”

Understanding flea control products is key to selling this category, said James Brandly, marketing coordinator for TropiClean in Wentzville, Mo.

“Know the facts about the product,” he said. “Did you know that an adult female flea lays up to 50 eggs? Engage with your customer through questions. Get to know what products they’ve tried or currently use. The more you know on the topic and solution, the better the interaction will be with pet parents.”

Brandly also recommends point-of-purchase displays, endcaps and educational material to help increase sales, with the potential of increasing basket value. 

“Our new 34-piece display houses multiple products, from our pet sprays and carpet powder to our new yard spray,” he said. “Each product serves a purpose in fighting pesky, unwanted guests. The display not only houses our products, it also provides education on why we created the product.”

Knowing the Category

Both retailers and manufacturers consider customer education a top priority when it comes to selling this category.

“Pests like fleas and ticks can cause a great deal of stress for pets and their parents,” said Stephanie Boone, founder and CEO of Wondercide Natural Products in Austin, Texas. “They can also cause health issues, so it’s important for the retailer to educate the customer on the elimination approach that will work. Treating the pets, home and yard is key.”

Consumer education should be the highest priority for retailers who are addressing pet owners looking for natural flea and tick control options, said Susan Goldstein, co-founder and co-CEO of Earth Animal, based in Westport, Conn. 

“Every animal enters the family or retail environment in an individual state of wellness or healing,” Goldstein said. “This applies to flea and tick prevention as well, and the solution or approach should meet the animal’s individual needs.”

Craig Ziemkiewicz, director of brand management for Perrigo Animal Health in Omaha, Neb., noted that there are several aspects of flea and tick control that pet specialty retailers may want to address with their customers. 

“Many consumers are only now becoming aware of the availability of vet-quality options in retail stores,” Ziemkiewicz said. “There are many ways for retailers to support pet owners in this category, from proper product application to the benefits of year-round compliance, treatment programs, and helping consumers navigate the category and products. Perrigo Animal Health partners with retailers to help educate associates and make the product purchase journey easier for pet parents.”

Options Abound

The flea and tick control category continues to evolve as traditional and veterinary brands, as well as emerging companies in the natural segment, develop new options to meet pet owners’ various needs and preferences.

Bayer Animal Health has launched Advantus, a soft-chew flea-treatment product for dogs that uses imidacloprid as its active ingredient, said Jeriel Chua, senior brand manager for Advantage and Advantus at Bayer Animal Health, based in Shawnee, Kan. 

“Advantus is ideal for dog owners who want a product that effectively kills fleas fast,” he said. “It’s the first FDA-approved soft-chew flea treatment available without a prescription.”

Chua added that Advantus is safe to give every day.

“Since it doesn’t get applied to the dog’s skin, there’s no messy residue,” he added. “Advantus contains no animal proteins, so it may be suitable for dogs with animal-protein allergies.”

Perrigo Animal Health, based in Omaha, Neb., recently introduced PetArmor Plus in a single-count format for dogs and cats, and PetArmor Advanced Flea Treatment for dogs and cats.

“PetArmor Plus kills fleas, ticks, and flea larvae and flea eggs,” said Craig Ziemkiewicz, director of brand management. “The one-count trial option will provide an entry price point into vet-quality [treatments]. PetArmor Plus contains the same active ingredients as Frontline Plus. PetArmor Advanced Flea Treatment for dogs and cats kills all stages of the flea life cycle, and contains the same active ingredients as Advantage II.”  

Ziemkiewicz added that veterinary-quality products continue to drive consumer demand in the retail flea and tick category, as more consumers realize these offerings are available in retail.

“This vet-quality segment is contributing growth to the category that is over 11 times higher than traditional value brands,” he said.

In the natural flea and tick control category, TropiClean, based in Wentzville, Mo., released Natural Flea & Tick Yard Spray to accompany its line of natural defense products, said James Brandly, marketing coordinator.

“Fighting fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other pests can seem like a never-ending battle,” he said. “We want to provide products that treat each area of the home to ensure protection and relief for both owner and pet.”

Wondercide Natural Products in Austin, Texas, also introduced a new product in the natural flea and tick control category, said Stephanie Boone, founder and CEO.

“We recently launched a reformulation of our best-selling product, Flea & Tick Control for Pets + Home, in three softened scents: fresh Lemongrass, Rosemary and Cedar,” she said. “Organic, therapeutic-grade cedar oil remains the active ingredient in all three formulations. The essential oils in our product provide aromatherapeutic benefits, as well as encourage a sense of calm and comfort.”

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