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Small Mammal Marketplace: Interactive Habitat Displays Boost Sales

Posted: Feb. 15, 2013, 6:10 p.m. EST


By Carolee Boyles

Quality displays with products outside of the packaging are essential for boosting sales of small mammal habitats and enclosures, retailers and manufacturers stated.

“It’s important to have the habitat on display so pet parents can interact with the product,” said Tara Whitesaid, marketing manager for MidWest Homes for Pets in Munci, Ind. “Keep packaging nearby and accessible so customers can read the callouts on the packaging and get to know the product before purchase. Keep related accessories stocked nearby, like hammocks, toys and feeding accessories. Merchandise these products in the enclosure.”

Annie Marcell, Kaytee brand assistant at Schaumburg, Ill.-based Central Garden & Pet agreed.

“This allows consumers to touch and get a true feel for the size of the cage, and see the features first hand,” she said. “Signage and point of purchase displays also are great ways to communicate with customers and provide product exposure to them.”

Small animal cage
Some manufacturers offer sales aids to retailers to help them educate owners and increase interest and sales.

“We have a nice display shelf that we sell to our retailers,” said Brad Strotz, director of major accounts for BioBubble Pets in Boca Raton, Fla. “It plays a video about the features and benefits of the product and makes it stand out. When you merchandise the BioBubble very visibly and add a video that explains what it does, you give the product very good exposure and then people ask questions about it.”

To bring small mammal customers into the store regularly, Tails pet store in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, hosts hamster races once a month. On those days, store employees who have other species of small mammals as pets bring them in for customers to see and learn about.

When Rachael Creech merchandises this category of products for her Adventure Pets store in Mandeville, La., she always takes them out of the box and puts them together.

“We even do that with the outdoor ones when we have room,” Creech said. “We sell a lot more cages when they’re out of the box.”

Special events, whether store-wide or small animal-specific, bring customers in and give retailers a chance to promote specific products, insiders reported.

“Stores that sell live animals can always have pet events that promote the specific pets and the habitats and accessories that they need,” Marcell said. “These are great events because they get new people into the hobby of owning small pets, and allow stores to educate owners about what they need to provide a happy healthy life for their pets.”

Although she doesn’t do any special events specifically for small animals, Creech does store-wide events that bring in customers who have all sorts of pets.

“We did a Christmas open house, a Small Business Saturday promotion and a Halloween event,” she said. “About once a month we do some kind of promotion that gets customers to come in for that day. We do a good small animals business so we always make sure we have a lot of products in stock for those days.”

In Lawrence, Kan., Pet World owner Sherry Emerson holds many events to encourage the sale of small mammal cages.

“We do a Holiday Sale every year after the Black Friday craziness has passed,” she said. “We bring in some bedding that we don’t normally carry just for this sale. We also work closely with our animal shelter and hold clinics for microchipping and adoption days and do re-homing of animals we’ve sold that people can’t keep.”

Like in a grocery store, Emerson keeps the “needs” to the back and the “wants” to the front.

“I have a small animal department where the livestock is at the front and the needs—such as the bedding—is on the back wall of the department,” she said. “We always have one cage open and merchandise the others up top in the ‘needs’ part of the department.”

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