Supplement manufacturers emphasize education and taste in their natural products.
When it comes down to it, dog and cat owners simply want to provide their pets with the best nutrition and care they can afford. And the manufacturers of natural pet supplements want to help pet owners do just that.
“It is our goal to help canine companions in digestion, maintain healthy immune function, help reduce inflammation and improve nutrient absorption,” said Mika Wheelwright, co-owner of Ogden, Utah-based Fidobiotics. “Our company mission statement is, ‘Because the quality of Fido’s life matters a lot!’”
The company’s products contain natural ingredients, are made in the U.S. and contain no GMOs or gluten, Wheelwright said.
In Clover of Boulder, Colo., combines natural ingredients and scientific research when formulating its line of natural supplements, said Courtney Taylor, director of customer care and marketing. The company recently introduced two supplement multipacks designed for pet owners who might not be sure which supplements their pets need.
“When it comes to beginning a supplement regimen, most people don’t know where to start,” Taylor said. “In Clover’s Canine Combo Pack and Feline 4 Pack … offer value, convenience and, most important, results.”
Supplement formulations that meet more than one dietary need—also called all-in-one formulations—are a growing trend in this product category, said John Leveris, co-founder of WellyTails in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. WellyTails offers wild ocean fish oil blends in airless dosing pumps as well as several formulations that address more than one health issue.
“Pet parents do not want to buy two or three jars to get what they want for their pets,” Leveris said. “Formulations that deliver two or three functional benefits are seen as a great value.”
Meeting Customers’ Needs
At the Red Bandanna Pet Foods locations throughout Georgia, employees often use the natural supplements stocked on the shelves with their own pets at home.
“All products carried at Red Bandanna stores have been tested on our own pets before we bring them in to sell to our customers,” said Barbara Cade, the store’s buyer. “If a product does not live up to our expectations, we don’t bring it in.”
Beyond personal use of the products, employees receive training on the benefits and ingredients of the natural supplements—and this extends to all staff, not just sales associates.
“I spend a lot of time reading articles and keeping up to speed on new developments in the world of natural supplementation,” Cade said.
Sharing those developments with customers is key at Ranch and Pet Supply in Albert Lea, Minn. Owner Michelle Nelson ensures her staff is fully trained on the benefits of all the supplements stocked in the store.
|A matter of taste|
Many pet owners understand the importance of supplements in their companion animals’ diets. The pets themselves? Not so much. If it doesn’t taste good, they don’t want to eat it.
“I believe that is why we see so many [supplements] in treat form, especially for cats,” said Toni Shelaske, owner of Healthy Pet Products, which has two stores in Pittsburgh.
To encourage a welcome reception of its supplements, Fidobiotics places an emphasis on formulating products that offer as much flavor as they do health benefits, said Mika Wheelwright, owner of the Ogden, Utah, company.
“We flavored our products so the dog actually will want to eat them,” she said.
Sue Noble, owner of Three Dog Bakery in Del Mar, Calif., stocks a natural product that appeals to both dogs and cats. Firm Up! pumpkin digestive supplement by Diggin’ Your Dogs remains popular with her customers because their pets will eat it. In fact, Noble said she often uses pumpkin as an ingredient in the baked dog treats she offers during the fall and winter months.
“Pumpkin is like Pepto-Bismol for pets,” Noble said. “It helps with a range of digestive issues. Plus, dogs will eat it.”—SNH
“Every person on my sales staff is required to go through the online training programs, plus any in-store training offered by our vendors so they know the products inside and out,” Nelson said. “Our staff is trained to ask the right questions so the proper supplement can be recommended.”
In many cases, customers already know about supplements from including them in their own diets.
“My customers have become more aware of what they put in their own bodies, and they want to make sure what they are giving their pets is healthful,” Nelson said. “They do the best they can possibly do for them.”
To help stores educate their staff and their customers, manufacturers offer a range of training programs and materials. Fidobiotics offers online training programs as well as face-to-face consultations, and Wheelwright makes herself available to retailers.
“I am always a phone call or an email away,” she said.
Education also is a top priority at WellyTails. The focus of the company’s educational materials is the individual ingredients that go into the supplements.
“When staff understand the ingredients, they understand the various supplement products on the shelf and can advise pet parents much more confidently,” Leveris said.
Customer service at the manufacturer level, combined with educational materials, helps retailers provide the best information to pet owners seeking the best care possible for their dogs and cats.
“Pet parents want to do everything they can to keep their animals happy, healthy and comfortable,” Taylor said. “This includes feeding a quality diet with nutritional supplements.”
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Natural Pet News.