Grooming Wipes Reign in Between-Bath Category
Products that offer dog owners a way to freshen up their pup or provide solutions to common skin and coat ailments in between baths are gaining traction.
When it comes to products for in between baths, such as sprays and wipes, dog owners are looking for effective solutions that will eliminate odors and dirt between professional grooming sessions. They are also seeking products that contain safe and natural ingredients, industry insiders reported.
“Between-bath grooming wipes and spritzes are the biggest trend right now—especially those with natural ingredients and fresh fragrances,” said Paul Armstrong, president and CEO of San Francisco-based Earthbath, which makes natural shampoos, wipes, spritzes and grooming foams. “Grooming wipes are driving the category as a whole as pet parents are looking for convenient and quick ways to touch up their companion animals without taking the time and effort to do a full bathing.”
To fulfill this need, Earthbath recently introduced Oatmeal and Aloe Itch Relief Wipes with vanilla and almond in a 100-count container, Armstrong added.
Julie Creed, vice president of sales and marketing for Pure and Natural Pet in Norwalk, Conn., also noted that wipes are leading the “between-bath” category.
“Wipes have really exploded as a category in their own right,” Creed said. “Wipes that you may use for personal use at home or for a baby are not suited for pets and their sensitive skin.”
Pure and Natural Pet—which offers shampoos, conditioners, waterless grooming products, wipes and other pet products—recently introduced a flushable Grooming & Cleansing Wipe in a soothing green tea scent.
Both Armstrong and Creed noted that time and convenience are the driving factors in the popularity of this category.
“People are busy but still want their pets to be clean and not smell,” Creed said. “A traditional bath takes time. Between-bath products extend bath time, add freshness and provide quick cleanups. These products are also portable and ideal to have in your car or travel carrier, as well as around the home.”
Beyond odor elimination and cleaning purposes, wipes, in particular, are also beginning to have a greater functional purpose.
“Wipes are being specialized with specific solutions to address, such as shed control, hot spots, facial wipes, ear and eye, dental and more, as pet parents seek the best health care for their pets,” Armstrong said. “The category has really become a staple in pet specialty over the last dozen or so years, and every retailer should stock an adequate selection to offer their customers the add-on products they desire—and that their pets need.”
Vince Fahringer, store manager at Dogs & Cats Rule in Doylestown, Pa., said that solution-oriented wipes are definitely a trend he’s noticed.
“Some wipes are even becoming medicated—such as an antifungal wipe,” he said. “So, there is clearly some greater functionality to this category beyond grooming.”
Pure and Natural Pet offers several wipes that offer solutions to common skin and coat issues.
“We have many task-specific pet wipes in our assortment—from a Natural Flea & Tick Wipe to a Tear Stain Removing Wipe and also general all-purpose Grooming and Cleansing Wipes that are soothing and ideal for quick cleanups and spot cleaning,” Creed said.
Depending on which area of the country a retailer is located in, between-bath products are more popular during specific seasons. According to Fahringer, these products tend to sell best in spring and winter.
“When dogs go out in the rain or snow and come in muddy, wipes are good for the paws,” he said.
Armstrong agreed that weather can contribute to sales.
“Think of the proportion of the United States that sees snow,” he said. “Who doesn’t need a few wipes to clean up dirty paws and undercoat before a dog jumps back in the car or comes in from the outdoors?”
In Florida, the consistently hot weather actually encourages the most sales, said Heather Moran, owner of The Doggie Bag: A Pet Boutique in Lakeland, Fla., who said that hot weather tends to contribute to smelly dog odors.
“Here in Florida it can get so hot that even letting your dog out to go potty can cause them to come inside stinky,” Moran said. “Of course, we don’t want to give our dogs a bath every time they go outside—overbathing isn’t good for their skin. So, our customers love these in-between bath products. They’re very popular here.”
Variety Is Key
The between-bath grooming category is chockfull of products that come in a variety of formats, including sprays, wipes, waterless shampoos and even powders. Offering the right mix of these products is important for pet specialty retailers that want to be successful in this category.
“Variety is what will grow your category,” said Julie Creed, vice president of sales and marketing for Pure and Natural Pet in Norwalk, Conn., which manufactures shampoos, conditioners, waterless grooming products, wipes and other pet products. “Stock between-bath wipes, bath fresheners and waterless shampoos. Products can be optimized by product placement and marketing. Featuring them on endcaps or kiosks and having proper signage and promotional shelf talkers is also a great way to introduce your customer to this category.”
Paul Armstrong, president and CEO of San Francisco-based Earthbath, which makes natural shampoos, wipes, spritzes and grooming foams, said that the key is to have enough product options to fit consumers’ varying needs “without having too many options to confuse their ability to choose.”
“I would suggest the retailer carry a natural brand or two and a more value-oriented brand or two—think good, better, best,” Armstrong said. “Also, try to offer an assortment that varies by quantities and convenience, meaning a large tub of grooming wipes and a travel size, and ear/eye wipes in a smaller pack and a larger value pack.”
With so much variety available on the market, Heather Moran, owner of The Doggie Bag: A Pet Boutique in Lakeland, Fla., said that the type of product that is most popular tends to come down to personal preference. But she said it’s important to educate customers on the options, as many don’t recognize they have choices.
“Most people come in specifically asking for a spray, but we talk about all the options,” Moran said. “Personally, I like the waterless shampoos, which are a foam that you rub in. I think it lasts longer, but some people still prefer the sprays or the wipes—they’re definitely a little bit faster to use. It’s important to have options since everyone is different.”
Merchandising & Marketing
Pet specialty retailers can generate interest in the between-bath category with their in-store displays and marketing strategies.
Heather Moran, owner of The Doggie Bag: A Pet Boutique in Lakeland, Fla., said that she has an old clawfoot tub in her store with a glass top where she displays all of her grooming products—including between-bath products. This is a great eye-catcher and often draws customers over, she added. However, Moran noted that talking to customers also is important, as many of them don’t know what products exist within the category.
Paul Armstrong, president and CEO of San Francisco-based Earthbath, which makes natural shampoos, wipes, spritzes and grooming foams, agreed.
“Beyond creating a distinct section for between-bath products, signage that speaks directly to the existence of the section would also be helpful,” Armstrong said. “A photograph of a happy dog being wiped might help—and many dogs do indeed love to be wiped.”
Julie Creed, vice president of sales and marketing for Norwalk, Conn.-based Pure and Natural Pet, which manufactures shampoos, conditioners, waterless grooming products, wipes and other pet products, said that no matter what the display, “education is key.”
“Create ‘timesaving/between-bath’ outposts in high-traffic areas and have a member of your sales team highlight products and engage with customers by having demos on various scents and products,” she suggested. “Promote on social and ask if their pet can pass the smell test.”
Moran said that she hosts a weekly Facebook Live event called “Tail Wagging Thursday” where the store often features a product demonstration. She reported that a Facebook Live demo of how to use a foam-based waterless shampoo definitely contributed to increased sales of the product.