Posted: July 19, 2013, 10:30 a.m. EDT
Manufacturers offer more products to keep pet owners’ homes stain free and smelling fresh.
By Laura Doering
The upside to dog ownership is that dogs offer love and companionship; the challenge for pet owners is how to effectively deal with their odor and waste, especially as more pets are now living inside the home and not in the backyard.
The number of odor control products and cleaning agents appears to be trending up.
"Over the past five to seven years, pet stain and odor removal has been one of the fastest growing segments in the pet industry,” said Mark Gravley, chief operating officer of Bio-Pro Research LLC in Hickory, N.C., maker of Urine Off. "Indoor pets are not only more common in the U.S., but this acceptance into the home is rapidly growing worldwide as well.”
Picking the right stain and odor solutions will leave your home smelling fresh and leaving you with a happy pet. iStock/Thinkstock
There are many new products on the market, said Beverly Lefevre, store manager of Paw’s Natural Pet Emporium in Richland, Wash.
"But our observation has been that too many choices often leave the customers overwhelmed and confused,” she said.
A new product has to be pretty unique in order to spark interest, noted Shannon Sawyer, market director at Royal Pets Market & Resort in Carrollwood, Fla. She cited the tablet-based pet stain and odor remover Fizzion as gaining in popularity.
"Fizzion is a little different, so it really stands out. It’s starting to pick up interest in the store,” she said.
From Lefevre’s experience, once people have tried a brand and received good results, they are less inclined to try others.
"For this reason, we try to provide the brands they know and trust, such as Nature’s Miracle and Bissell,” she said.
That’s not to say that pet owners are turning their noses up at new products.
"If it’s a decent product, you’ll sell it,” said Curt Jacques, who co-owns West Lebanon Feed & Supply in West Lebanon, N.H., with his wife, Sharon.
A trained and educated staff makes the product effective, Jacques said. He estimated that 20 percent of the time customers buying a product for the first time are not buying the right one for their needs.
"If it works for them, they’re going to come back to you for repeat business,” said Jacques. "There are a lot of great odor control products out there, but, unfortunately, many retailers don’t know enough about them to educate customers on how to successfully use them.”
According to Sawyer, many people don’t read the product directions, and, as a result, the customer assumes the product doesn’t work for their needs.
"For example, you have to point out that an odor-removing product takes multiple treatments to be fully effective,” said Sawyer.
Popular household cleaning brand names attempting to enter the pet cleaning market oftentimes add to a misconception that all stains and odors are created equal, Gravley said.
"The components of pet urine are extremely different from other common stains, and that is why most of the products available today only mask the odor, providing short-term relief,” said Gravley.
He pointed out that a dog’s sense of smell is at least 10,000 times more acute than a human’s, so while a fragranced cleaner might smell good to the owner, it might have the opposite effect on a pet.
"Our fragrances in our products are temporary, quickly dissipating after the product is applied,” he said.
Many newcomers to the pet odor control and cleaning products marketplace come from related industries, which might be a sign of more odor and stain control products to come.
Minneapolis-based CritterZone, which was introduced last September at SuperZoo in Las Vegas and awarded 1st and 2nd place for best new product in the Miscellaneous category, began offering air purifiers three decades ago.
"While our company is new to the pet industry, we have a rich heritage dating back to the late 1980s for indoor air quality equipment manufacturing,” reported Bill Converse, president. "Over the almost 30 years in air restoration, technology was recently developed that allowed CritterZone to be available to solve a common problem in a very compact size and at a very small price.”
Lake Wales, Florida-based Fizzion, which offers its Pet Stain & Odor Remover, has its roots in the bowling industry. Its parent company, Kegel, developed a solution to clean up the heavy oils used to condition bowling lanes without eroding their wood and protective layers. Bowling Fizzion was also found to be effective on protein-based stains, such as urine and feces, and the company branched out into the pet stain and odor category.
Manufacturers also are more likely to offer multiple approaches in the odor and stain control fight.
Bio-Pro Research, for example, offers LED technology to assist the consumer in locating urine stains on carpets and hard surfaces.
"Our LED lights fluoresce the urine, making it easier to locate and treat the problem,” reported Gravley.
"Because dried urine can be difficult to see on most surfaces, this product is an essential part of stain and odor remediation.”
Bio-Pro launched Yard Clean Green to attack outdoor pet odors that may exist on decks, lawns, walkways and other areas, Gravley said.
"This idea was inspired by our customers in the U.K., who, on average, have smaller lawns for their pets to roam and relieve themselves. Our product saturates the area and penetrates the surface to reach the source of the odor without damaging your lawn, outdoor furniture, wood or concrete.”
Educating retailers on the product, so that they, in turn, can educate their customers, is especially important for odor control products.
"A 10-second in-store demonstration allows a potential customer to experience firsthand the amazing technology that simply destroys a simulated urine odor,” said Converse. "The customer can immediately experience the benefit of how CritterZone can be used for their pet’s odor control problem.”
Converse said that many retail stores send the CritterZone unit home with a potential buyer for a three-day trial.
Some products sell themselves, and some need to be explained and/or demonstrated, Paw’s Natural Pet Emporium’s Lefevre said.
"The 180XT stain remover by Marshall Pet Products was one we felt we would need to be able to give a hands-on demonstration of,” she said. "The company was one step ahead of us on that and provided a kit that includes a very stained section of carpet with everything we needed to show the customer not only how it works, but also how well it works. It is by far our best stain remover.”
"We do have some reps coming into the store,” said Sawyer of Royal Pets Market & Resort. "We had the Fizzion people do a demo in store, and they showed us not only how it works for pets, but that it has many other uses, such as removing stains from clothes.”
West Lebanon Feed & Supply has also benefited from product reps in store.
"Great retailers do staff training seminars,” said Jacques. "We have product reps show us how to use the product. This makes us the local expert, builds confidence with our staff, builds loyalty with customers, and makes us the specialty retailer that we strive to be.”
For Pets, People and the Earth
Twenty to 30 years ago, cleaning products were mainly Clorox mixes, Jacques said.
"Kennels used them to disinfect, and that was the old standby until less-harsh products came out,” he said.
Sawyer’s store aims to offer more eco-friendly products.
"Especially since pets are mostly lying on the floor,” she noted. "People want fewer toxins in their homes.”
To emphasize his product’s nontoxic ingredients, the rep for Fizzion drank a sample of it during his in-store demo, she said.
"We were all floored by that.”
Consumers are becoming more concerned about the potential impact cleaning products have on the environment and individual health, Gravley said. He noted that 81 of Bio-Pro’s products are certified as USDA BioPreferred, which means they reduce petroleum consumption and increase the use of renewable resources, he said.
"This leads to a better-managed carbon cycle and reduces adverse environmental and health impacts,” he said. "We want everyone to know that Bio-Pro Research cares about their pets as well as their planet.” <HOME>
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