Posted: September 26, 2013, 3:15 p.m. EDT
Stain and odor removal product placement and customer education can leave sales in your store coming up roses.
By Keith Loria
All pet owners deal with pet stains and odors, but not everyone takes advantage of the cleaning and odor control products designed exclusively for this sector.
That’s why pet retailers must educate customers about advancements in these products and why pet owners should use them to manage, reduce and hopefully eliminate pet stains and odors.
According to the American Pet Products Association’s 2013-2014 National Pet Owners Survey, almost a billion dollars was spent on these products over the past year. Also, 23 percent of dog owners surveyed reported buying carpet pet stain remover in the past 12 months; 12 percent of cat owners surveyed reported buying pet stain remover in that same period. Little surprise, then, that retailers want to ensure these products are in plain view of customers.
Lorin Grow, owner of Furry Face in Redlands, Calif., uses several areas to display odor and cleaning products, and believes good placement alone sells the product. Because every pet owner deals with this problem at one time or another, she said, the conversation really starts as the pet owner sees, or reaches for, the product.
"The spot that has the most response and success is right at the register area where we display both cat- and dog-related products,” Grow said. "Then we have another display of cat-specific items in the cat aisle and a display of dog specific in the same area as our natural yard and area treatments section.”
Janene Zakrajsek, owner of Pussy & Pooch Pethouse and Pawbar in Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., said there are dedicated shopping "zones” within all three Pussy & Pooch locations, so these essentials are in a specific area with complementing products.
"We believe keeping our dedicated zones well merchandised and easy to shop provides the best experience for clients,” Zakrajsek said. "These types of essential products are located en route to the food aisles and serve as a great reminder to clients for items they may have forgotten they need. We recently broke this product category into cat and dog zones, so it’s even easier for clients to navigate.”
Jusak Yang Bernhard, co-owner of TailsSpin, noted that his three Georgia-based stores feature a section specifically geared toward cleaning and odor control.
"We include poop bags and scoopers, stay-away products, wee-wee pads and diapers, and stain and odor removers,” he said. "All of our hard goods are placed on shelving at the front of the store to ensure they get attention when a customer walks into the store.”
TailsSpin also uses the products it sells to help promote them.
"At each of our low-cost pet vaccine events, we have over 50 people and their pets in the store within an hour and a half time period,” said Bernhard. "We always have to be ready to clean up after our four-legged friends. We use these opportune times to showcase the products as we strike conversations with the pet owners while cleaning. Often the customers will comment about the fresh odor of the cleaning sprays we use.”
In addition to actually using the products, TailsSpin also uses talking points in house advertisements.
"When we want to feature a cleaning product, we place it at the checkout counter or create a special display in a specific area of the store,” Bernhard said. "We are proud to sell local merchandise, as with Savannah’s own No Mo ‘O’ Instant Stain and Odor Remover. We feature this item in our local sections.”
Tropiclean’s Fresh Breeze line of natural stain and odor removers offers an exclusive HabitBreaker technology that attacks odor and destroys it completely, earning its name and breaking the habit of return soiling, according to the manufacturer.
"When we set out to develop this product, our goal was to offer consumers a natural solution to a very relevant need of pet cleanup,” said Brian Collier, creative marketing and PR coordinator for the Wentzville, Mo., company. "Accidents are part of life. Having a powerful natural product to clean up those accidents is where we come in.”
Carlos Zamora, marketing coordinator for SynergyLabs in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., noted that his company recently introduced X-Tract O2 Oxygen Powered Cleaner, Stain Remover & Deodorizer, which is formulated to remove tough stains and odors and dry quickly.
"SyenrgyLabs’ Odor Patrol is always in high demand because it safely and effectively eliminates odors on virtually all fabrics and washable surfaces,” Zamora said. "Odor Patrol’s active ingredients surround the molecular structures of offensive smells to block them both in the air and on surfaces. This is accomplished with a light, fresh scent.”
In a retail environment, these products draw people in because they are multipurpose cleaners and, although geared toward the pet industry, can work as a traditional cleaner for all stains and odors, Zamora said.
Retailers should make better use of video promotions to market the products, and not just a manufacturer waxing poetic about its product, he continued.
To draw attention to its products, Tropiclean’s packaging uses the mantra "Powerful for you. Safe for them.”
"We take pride in the amount of detail and creativity that go into each product package design,” Collier said. "Retailers will benefit from displaying the products as a solution-based family. Our natural solution to help keep pet families’ homes a little fresher and cleaner speaks volumes in the vibrant green packaging.”
In his opinion, a store shouldn’t use two separate areas (one for cleanup; one for natural) for its cleaning products because the goal is to remove as many steps as possible for the consumer to find their solution. Marketing materials by the side of the products can help.
"Tropiclean’s goal is to not stop at the shelf but also pull customers through their doors with consumer marketing and advertising,” Collier said. "Assuming that retailers are taking advantage of current trends and marketing natural products within their retail spaces, this product should live there and be promoted there.”
Another good tip for retailers is to provide education to the staff, who in turn can educate the consumers about the pros of each product.
"First-hand usage knowledge is extremely beneficial to selling and explaining the products,” said Furry Face’s Grow. "Training, product knowledge and understanding the appropriate problem-specific usage information is also important. If you select one or two good lines, you will have variety, which makes merchandising simple yet impactful.”
SynergyLabs offers training programs to educate those in the retail environment about its products, helping retailers and customers gain a greater understanding of what they do and most likely helping a retailer maintain a customer, Zamora said.
"A solid recommendation from our pet experts on the effectiveness of these types of products demonstrates their product knowledge and how to best care for animals, which often translates into larger sales,” said Pussy & Pooch’s Zakrajsek. "Keeping the items clean and well stocked, and knowing the differences between types of cleaners and which ones are best for various applications, i.e., hardwood floor, concrete, carpet, etc., is very important.”
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