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Sizzling Stock: Cleaning & Odor Control Products

Posted: June 21, 2012, 1:30 p.m. EDT


Tidy Up On Sales
Offering products that assist customers in maintaining a clean and odor-free house can ensure repeat business and help pets keep their forever homes.
By Sandy Robins

The stain and odor control category has grown considerably, with numerous new products coming to market with prominent shelf space in specialty pet stores. When it comes to the latest fragrances and formulas, the trends are indicative of what is currently popular to consumers in a general household setting.

Case in point: Lambert Kay launched new packaging and new scents for its Fresh ’n Clean line. Its Pet Odor Absorbers are the first products to feature the new packaging that will eventually extend across the brand, according to the company.

“The scents such as Green Tea and Sage, Fresh Linen and Ocean Breeze match current home air freshener industry trends,” said Alyssa Mazur, communications manager for animal health products at Lambert Kay, which is now owned by PBI-Gordon Corp. in Kansas City, Mo.

“The new design elements include a ‘my family’ concept that shows pets enjoying the comforts of home,” noted Mazur, adding that the company has a pre-assembled counter top display as an option for retailers and is currently offering a buy-one-and-get-one-free mail-in rebate to help retailers promote the products.

Pet stain and odor products
Cleaning products sales are growing, as evidenced by the range of new and existing products on the market. Katie Ingmire/Bowtie Inc. at Passionate Pet Superstore
Among the many retailers looking for new products in this category at Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Fla., in March were MaryEllen and Bill Ford, owners of the Affordable Pet Center in Northampton, Pa.

“We have found that customers expect to find something special in a specialty pet retail store,” MaryEllen Ford said. “And this is particularly true when it comes to stain and odor control, which can be a big problem for pet owners during a pet’s lifetime.

“After touring the product aisles at Global Pet Expo, we picked up new SKUs,” she continued. “Stain and odor control products are almost a daily sale item for us, and our customers are definitely keen on products with fresh scents because they blend so well with other scented products they use around the home.”

The newest products from Simple Solution also have fragrances that are currently trending in terms of general household scents.

“The Simple Solution Advanced Stain and Odor Remover has a spring garden scent and the scent in the new Simple Solution Advanced Stain and Odor Remover is called Rainwater Fresh,” said Erica Lazarus, public relations spokesperson for The Bramton Co., headquartered in Dallas. “The Simple Solution Advanced Stain and Odor Remover is a professional-strength Pro-Bacteria and enzyme formula that was specially developed to target vomit, urine and feces from carpets, upholstery and water-safe surfaces.”

These products, which initially launched in the mass retail sector, have been available in pet specialty stores since late 2011.

Recently, Tropiclean in Wentzville, Mo., known in the marketplace for its pet dental and grooming products, also placed its footprint in the stain and odor aisle.

“We found a need for a natural stain and odor remover product,” said Michelle Neuhaus, sales and web marketing manager for the company. “Our research resulted in a product we have labeled a Habitbreaker formula. It has dual-phase enzymes that continue to work and eat away the stain and odor until the material is completely dry. The products are designed for use on carpets, hard surface floors, crates and kennel, and litter pans, and there is a pad penetrator for deep cleaning.”

While stain and odor isn’t the best-selling segment of products at Vetdepot.com, the e-tailer reported that it’s a steadily growing one.

“Our stain and odor product sales have nearly tripled from January 2009 to January 2012,” said Kimberly Chambers, marketing and media assistant for the organization, headquartered in Encinitas, Calif.

“We get a lot of repeat orders, which is an indication our customers are interested in affordable, convenient ways to clean up the everyday messes associated with pets while keeping their homes smelling fresh,” Chambers added.

Pet owners often respond to word-of-mouth recommendations, and when they find something that works, they tend to stick with it, noted Jan Jaeger, owner of Geronimo’s with two locations in Nantucket, Mass.

When it comes to personal recommendations, Dwight Nakagawa, buyer for Centinela Feed and Pet Supplies, a chain headquartered in Torrance, Calif., agreed.

“It’s all about getting results,” he said. “So there is nothing like a personal recommendation to drive customers to purchase a particular product.”

When possible, Nakagawa likes to test products himself.

“This is where it’s so important for manufacturers to take the time to discuss products and where possible do ‘show and tell’ type demonstrations for store owners,” Nakagawa said. “When staff in a store can attest to a difference before and after the use of a product, it really helps to boost sales.”

Nakagawa recently introduced the Zero Odor line to store shelves after the manufacturers came to a head office meeting and did a demonstration for the company personnel.

“Our customers complain a lot about cat litterbox odors, and Zero Odor demonstrated the efficacy of its product on a dish of pure ammonia,” he said.

Show-and-tell-type demonstrations are a critical part of the educational process, according to Jim Huffstetler, founding partner of Zero Odor LLC based in Litchfield, Conn.

“We like to demonstrate to store owners so that they can do the same demonstration for their customers,” he said.

The Zero Odor line was initially only sold in mass retail stores and through QVC, but after attending both SuperZoo in Las Vegas last year and Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Fla., this year, the company started to target the pet industry directly, Huffstetler reported.

“Zero Odor’s patented nontoxic formula works on the molecular level to permanently eliminate any odor it touches,” Huffstetler said. “Whether sprayed in the air or on a surface, it seeks out and bonds with odor molecules, turning them into non-odor molecules. Once the bonding process occurs, it is irreversible.”

The product received an unsolicited endorsement from behaviorist Professor Nicholas Dodman, BVMS, program director of the animal behavior department of clinical sciences at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Grafton, Mass., who cited the product an excellent behavior modification tool to encourage cats to use an odor-free litterbox.

“So many cats lose their homes because of litterbox behavioral issues, we are hoping to target the cat world, and hopefully cats will directly benefit from the product by not being returned to shelters over issues which can in fact be targeted and resolved,” Huffstetler said.

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