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Creating Pet Welcome Baskets

By Lori Luechtefeld

Retailers can take some of the guesswork out of shopping for a new pet by offering pre-assembled new-pet welcome packs. For dogs, a crate is a natural gift basket choice, said Kim Stout, marketing manager for Coastal Pet Products in Alliance, Ohio.

“This should include a brush and nail trimmer, toys, and housebreaking pads,” she said. The package can include a checklist that reminds consumers to pick up food, bowls, treats and a collar, leash, harness or retractable lead, she added.

Meanwhile, for cats, a litterbox makes an appropriate gift basket, Stout said. Packages can include basics such as a brush and nail trimmer, toy, scoop and a checklist of other suggested items, such as bowls, food, litter, hair-ball remedies and breakaway collars.

Industry Voices

What essential item do new pet owners too often overlook?

“A good arsenal of things to chew on in terms of keeping the dog occupied. Dogs will instinctually want to chew, and you don’t want them to chew on your daughter’s arm or a table leg. But don’t just do all rawhide; select a good variety of materials.”
—Brian Pratt, assistant manager at Anaheim Feed & Pet Supply Inc. in Anaheim, Calif.


“A leash. When they’re small like that, puppies can’t run too far, and owners will free-walk them. That can lead to problems later. I suggest a small leash to get them started.”
—Rickena Perry, owner of Fetch. Fur. Love. in Tampa, Fla.


“I don’t think they realize how important the quality of food is. A lot look at the dollar value and don’t think about the long term. It’s important to spend more on dog food because in the long run, owners will have healthier pets and less medical issues. They will save in the long run, not just in vet bills, but they won’t worry on their pets so much. You need to get them to look at the bigger picture of dog food or bird food or whatever type of pet they have.”
—Roberta MacIntosh, manager of Roberts Pet Shop in Ewing, N.J.


“Teething toys. A lot of people forget about these products. They think they can give their pet stuffed toys, but they need toys dogs can really chew on.”
—Sam Schonberger, sales associate at Pet Solutions Supermarket in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

“It is important to get kittens and cats familiar with collars and harnesses at an early age,” Stout noted.

When putting together pet welcome baskets, Andrew Kroll, director of DigPets in West Palm Beach, Fla., said retailers should include bowls, as well as portable water containers, such as Water Rovers, in hot climates. He also suggested including plush toys for entertainment, and all-natural treats for training. Bundling it together in a small puppy bed is a great way to display and promote these collections, he added.

Kim Nguyen, vice president of marketing for Central Life Sciences, Companion Animal Health Brands, said retailers might also want to include name tags for pets, as well as a book on pet health care and behavior.

In putting together welcome gift baskets, retailers should keep in mind that new pets come in all shapes and sizes, said Sarah Julian, director of corporate communications for Petmate in Arlington, Texas. Thus, retailers might either need to find universal products that are a good fit regardless of size and type of pet, or they need to create multiple options for new pet owners to choose from.

“With this in mind, it may be easier for the retailer to create a brochure or checklist for shoppers to carry with them as they collect items to buy for their new furry friend,” she said. <HOME>

*This bonus content is a continuation of the Home: Indoor & Outdoor Marketplace article on helping customers prepare for new pets which appears on page 70 of the June 2010 issue. Please refer back to the magazine for the full article. Click here to become a subscriber.

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