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Dog Marketplace: Clear the Air

Posted: September 26, 2013, 3:30 p.m. EDT


Dog owners demand home cleaning and odor-removal solutions that work.

By Carolee Anita Boyles

As anyone who owns a dog already knows, having a four-footed furry roommate brings with it certain cleaning challenges. Puppies and some geriatric dogs make messes on the floor and carpet, young dogs (and sometimes older dogs) chew, and longhaired breeds can leave enough hair on the floor and furniture to weave a blanket. Dog owners seek help with all of these issues.

"There are more than 56 million dog-owning households in the U.S., and 68 percent of all households in the U.S. own some sort of pet,” said Josh Landis, senior product manager of Evercare in Alpharetta, Ga., a brand of The OneCare Co.

When it comes to cleaning products geared toward dog owners, he said, the consumer determines what works and what doesn’t, and ultimately decides what will remain on retailers’ shelves.

Trends in the Market
What consumers want most in cleaning products is efficiency, said Brian Collier, creative marketing and PR coordinator for Tropiclean in Wentzville, Mo.

"Even in our industry, which is not about natural products, consumers are most concerned with getting stain and odor out,” he said.

Collier said that consumers want so much to control stains and odor that they will disregard products that offer such benefits as being natural or eco-friendly and use those with harsher ingredients but more effective action.

Dog Cleaning Supplies
Proper usage is important for cleaning products; store staff can call attention to this fact when talking with customers. Sherri L. Collins/i-5 Publishing at Kriser's

"That’s actually surprising, as being natural and being eco-friendly are two of the most popular trends in the pet industry today,” he said.

Customers just want a product that works, said Bonny Parker, owner of No Mo "O” in Savannah, Ga.

"There are many products on the market,” she said, "but finding the ones that solve the issues of cleanliness surrounding pet ownership is still a challenge.”

Dog owners want cleaning products that are multiuse, noted Carlos Zamora, marketing coordinator for SynergyLabs in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"Why buy a cleaner just for dog messes and a different one for other messes?” he said. "Dog owners want something they can use on everything. Many pet parents already assume that most human cleaning products will effectively clean pet messes. So, if pet supply manufacturers offer the opposite, cleaning products geared to dog owners but that can be used generally, then those become the most successful.”

Cleaning Up
Tropiclean, which introduced its Fresh Breeze product line in 2011, recently redesigned the packaging and introduced a version of Fresh Breeze called Upholstery, Collier said.

"We also recently introduced a gallon size of our 2x Carpet & All,” he said. "We saw there was a high demand for a large size as well as the ability to refill the spray bottle.”

Brad Ringlien, owner of The Pet Pad in Cary, N.C., said he has been selling Nature’s Miracle for several years.

"Nature’s Miracle produces a product called Urine Destroyer, which uses an oxygen-infused, bio-enzymatic solution that removes the odor so the dog won’t be attracted back to the spot,” he said. "One of the new items we’ve picked up from Nature’s Miracle is the hardwood floor formula. The newest items we brought in are the scented versions of the stain and odor removers, which are getting a mixed response from customers.”

No Mo "O” started out as a product for people, Parker said.

"My elderly father goes from a wheelchair to a lift chair to a hospital bed,” she said. "It’s a situation where the smell of urine is an everyday occurrence. There were lots of products, but not a lot that worked. We decided to develop No Mo "O” and market it to help people. But then we found that it solves pet accident issues as well.”

Stephanie Vaughn, manager of California Pets in Escondido, Calif., said the store carries Lambert Kay’s Fresh ‘n Clean products for cleaning.

"We don’t carry anything that’s ‘green,’” she said. "We only have more established products, and we haven’t added anything new recently.”

Last year, Evercare introduced the FurErase, a lint roller that combines traditional tape with a rubber agitator.

"This removes deeply embedded hair and fur from upholstery and clothing,” Landis said. "We took a page from the vacuum industry and added the rubber agitator as an ‘on-board attachment.’ Our customers told us they love the tape method but don’t want to use layer after layer to remove stubborn fur. The rubber agitator lifts more fur to the surface to allow the tape to pick it up.”

Llewellyn "Lew” Accan, owner of Boubah’s Pet Store in Toronto, said the big thing for his store is enzyme-based cleaners such as Nature’s Miracle. Now, he said, companies are coming out with enzyme-based cleaners that have added fragrances.

"They tend to move fairly well for us, although most of our customers prefer the unscented products,” he said. "Our customers also like the pee mats that keep dogs from staining their hardwood floors. The enzymic cleaners are important to keep dogs from re-offending; from going in the same area again.”

Rather ironically, Accan said, if a manufacturer markets a cleaning product as holistic or "green,” it tends to sell poorly.

Liz Barnes Marquardt, marketing director for Glo-Marr Products in Lawrenceburg, Ky., said the company’s Kenic Oxy-Sol Pet Stain and Odor Remover is great for general cleaning and outstanding for pet accidents.
 
"Its trademarked ingredient Ordenone encapsulates malodors and eliminates them,” she said. "Pet accidents are a problem for just about anyone who owns a pet, and Oxy-Sol is a product to take care of that problem.”

Bissell Homecare in Grand Rapids, Mich., developed the Pawsitively Clean line of products for everyday use and to go in Bissell’s rental carpet cleaning machines.

"We created Pawsitively Clean products to target pet messes by type so consumers can go to the shelf and get exactly the formulation they need,” said Jim Krzeminski, president of Bissell Business Ventures. "The Pawsitively Clean carpet cleaning rental machine builds on those products that can be used every day. The rental machine is easy to use, and the carpets dry quickly.”

At least one big-box pet-supply chain already rents Bissell carpet cleaning machines to customers, he added.

Victoria Gravel, supervisor at Rumford Pet Center in East Providence, R.I., said customers who come into the store generally are looking for products that don’t contain a lot of chemicals.

"They’re looking for products that are all natural,” she said. "A lot of our customers have dogs with sensitive skin, and they’re concerned that ingredients in cleaning products will cause their dogs to have more of a reaction.”

Rumford Pet Center recently added cleaning products by Earth Animal and Natural Chemistry, Gravel said.

"Our managers who went to one of the big pet expos decided to bring in Earth Animal,” she said. "We’ve also had Nature’s Miracle for a while.”

In June 2013, after customers asked for its return, SynergyLabs reintroduced X-Tract Cleaner, Stain Remover & Deodorizer. The company originally developed X-Tract as an oxygen-based cleaner containing hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate.

"The sodium carbonate serves as a carrier for hydrogen peroxide,” Zamora said. "The hydrogen peroxide is a powerful cleaner that breaks down and removes dirt, stains, odor and soil.”
     
Seeing Is Believing
Whenever possible, Tropiclean uses live demonstrations to show potential customers how well Fresh Breeze handles pet messes, Collier said.

"Often, seeing is believing when it comes to stain and odor removers,” he said. "We also use traditional ways of communicating our message through consumer publications and websites. Our hope is that consumers come into [stores] asking for our product.”

Parker offers displays and in-store demonstrations to retailers.

"We have really cool displays we offer our retailers,” she said. "In our local market here in Savannah we demo our product at our retail locations and set up booths at pet events to let people know where to purchase No Mo ‘O’.”

Marquardt said Glo-Marr is using both printed POP material and product samples to help retailers with sell through.

"Kenic provides a colorful 8.5x11 sales sheet for retailers to use to educate customers,” she said. "We also have 2-ounce sample spray bottles for purchase.”

SynergyLabs offers a retail cleaning kit to stores that carry X-Tract so they can demonstrate live to dog owners how the product can be used in different environments.

"We also provide face-to-face training with their sales representatives and video from our lead chemist explaining the oxygen-powered base found in X-Tract,” Zamora said.

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