Posted: Sept. 17, 2012, 6:30 p.m. EDT
When promoted properly, pet beds offer high-revenue gift-giving potential.
By Soraya Gutierrez
With the holidays fast approaching, dog and cat beds provide tremendous opportunity for an end-of-year sales boost. With the winter holidays, customers are shopping for that special gift for their or their friend’s pet, and they’re willing to spring for a larger purchase, such as a luxurious bed, industry participants reported.
At Christmas, many pet owners love to splurge on these items, said Katrina M. Boucher, owner of The Cape Cod Dog in Eastham, Mass.
“Beds certainly sell all year long, but as colder temps move in, people think about a new bed for their cat or dog,” she said.
Stacking beds in all sizes saves space and makes for an attention-getting display. Photo By Carrie Brenner/BowTie Inc. at George
Especially for senior pets, Boucher recommends to her customers that they keep their dogs and cats off of the cold floor with a cozy fleece or donut bed if their pet really likes to curl up.
“Little dogs tend to nest, so a bed that they can crawl into is nice,” she said.
To enhance the gift-giving appeal of beds, Boucher stacks the items to draw the customer’s eye.
“Donut beds stack well, and people can pull off the size they want,” she noted.
Customers also tend to gravitate toward colors and patterns that they’d wear, she said, so it’s wise to notice trends.
In addition to what looks good, customers are demanding durability, according to Katie Wozniak, president of Katherine Elizabeth Designs in North Barrington, Ill.
During the busy holiday season, customers are searching for that ideal gift, and pets certainly are not left out of the gift-giving cycle, Wozniak confirmed.
“Our K-9 Comfort Beds not only provide a special place for pets, but they are healthfully beneficial,” she said.
The fabrics and designs are eye-catching, and the beds are made with the pet in mind, she noted.
“We recommend retailers have a sample of our bed on the floor for pets to test,” she said.
The beds are available in several levels, from basic to artistic to elegant.
“Each level contains our K-9 Comfort bolsters and K-9 Comfort mattress or cushion to be sure each bed contains the best support and comfort,” she said.
At Buddy Beds in Denver, top-quality materials are used to ensure that the memory foam orthopedic dog beds last for years, reported Debbie Holte, owner.
“We’re trying to make the best bed, not the cheapest bed,” Holte said. “You’re going to give an animal the ultimate in comfort and support. That’s why it’s a giveable bed.”
Customers will also be more willing to invest in a bed once they learn about the durability of the product, Holte said.
Selling these beds during the holidays can be as easy as having one on hand as a tester so dogs can try for themselves, she added.
New from her company this season are outdoor beds made from a revolutionary foam designed to withstand the elements.
The energy of the holidays can often lead to cluttered retail store environments, said Spencer Williams, president of West Paw Design in Bozeman, Mont. To effectively promote, display and merchandise dog and cat beds, he suggested the following ideas:
• Simple, intriguing store signage helps retailers focus the customer attention on profitable, high-dollar items such as beds. For example, “Give a long-lasting gift that adds comfort for your dog/cat year-round.”
• When customers are buying beds for another person, they can be advised to consider colors that match their friend’s home, not the season.
• The movement toward American-made products is ever-growing, and showcasing American-made merchandise together creates interest and can educate consumers about the benefits of manufacturing products in the USA.
• Retailers can create fun bed-gifting vignettes throughout the store in key traffic areas, such as a “For the sleepy kitty” setup, featuring a Nature Nap flat mat bed as a perfect gift along with a bit of organic catnip to add to the holiday cheer.
Placing beds front and center in window displays and having a well-organized, well-stocked bed section has led to success at The Hip Hound boutique in Portland, Ore., said Cait Scherr, product manager.
“For the winter holidays, more heavy-weight, warmer beds in deeper colors are selected,” she said.
The most in-demand bed at The Hip Hound is a sleeping-bag-style bed called the Cuddle Cup. It’s manufactured in the USA by Susan Lanci Designs and made from luxurious and easily washable faux fur, she said. Plus, it’s reversible for different seasons, Scherr reported.
P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle And You) beds provide a cozy way to pamper pets, which is ideal for the holidays, said Will Chen, CEO of the San Francisco company.
“Many owners purchase their pets holiday presents,” Chen said. “They are already looking for something special to give their four-legged family member, it’s just important to keep the beds visible. Creating a display that lets customers touch and feel the quality of the products is important. Keep it fresh and rotate colors and displays so that seasonal products are highlighted.”
In this uncertain economy people want a bargain, even if small. So by bundling products (so the sales value is higher) or offering a discount for a second purchase, Chen said, customers are encouraged to spend more.
Sprucing up the house for the winter holidays gives pet owners the chance to give their cat or dog a new place to curl up, noted Salina Gannon, president of Nip and Bones LLC, an e-tailer in La Verne, Calif.
“Many people love a change in décor during the seasons and holidays, so new dog and cat beds can most definitely be a part of that,” she said.
While heated pet beds are popular in the fall and holiday seasons, the newest and most in demand are nesting and lounge-type beds, Gannon added.
“These are generally either high-walled or have walled sides; the snuggle factor is great,” she said. “Another popular choice for dogs is the memory foam bed, great for resting and older pups.”
In addition, Gannon noted, retailers can encourage customers to purchase the latest beds for the holidays by grouping them in matching color sets and positioning them in or near the holiday gift sections.
“Create fun emails and/or fliers with the new beds and holiday seasonal gifts,” she said. “Make matching gift sets, a set of holiday goodies that includes a bed.”<HOME>
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