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Fall Emporium: Sales Dreams Are Made Of

Posted: September 24, 2013, 4:00 p.m. EDT


Merchandise pet beds that feature on-trend and popular colors, shapes and fillers to spur holiday season sales.

By Sandy Robins

More Americans are striving for the perfect night’s sleep in the perfect bed. And like other human trends that translate to the pet industry, American pet owners also are seeking to upgrade where their pets lay their heads.

This is good news for pet specialty retailers and presents excellent marketing opportunities to promote the latest dog and cat beds as functional gifts through the fall right up to the main festive gift-giving season.

According to Amy DePaoli, director of marketing for 500-store Pet Valu based in Wayne, Pa., both cat and dog beds are hot sellers year-round. Apart from carrying popular branded merchandise, the chain also has a bed line under its own Bailey & Bella label.

"Beds make great gifts; pet owners feel that they are gifting both their pet and themselves because beds are considered home accessories, too,” she said. "Every year we introduce new colors that represent the seasonal changes through fall and winter.”

"From October onward, we promote our merchandise with special endcaps and displays in stores to highlight our newest merchandise in this category,” DePaoli added. "When it comes to cats, both pyramid shapes and hidey-hole designs are popular sellers. In dog beds, we’ve seen increased interest in memory-foam fillers.”

Memory-foam beds were featured in Consumers Digest’s latest pet product review published this past July, drawing attention to the benefits for elderly pets as well as those recuperating from surgery. Retailers can promote such beds by informing customers of the positive impact they could have on their pets’ health and comfort.

Pet bed manufacturer Worldwise Inc. in San Rafael, Calif., reported increased sales in this category. According to Rob Morgan, the company’s chief operating officer, Worldwise was the first to bring memory foam to the pet bed market.

"Most recently we introduced gel-infused memory foam into our range of Luxury Lounger beds,” Morgan said. "The memory foam cushion offers increased airflow and also responds to the pet’s body temperature. The sides of the bed are filled with Eco-rest, our proprietary blend of recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. These beds make great functional gifts.”

According to Spencer Williams, owner of West Paw Design in Bozeman, Mont., the company’s new range of beds, the Heyday line, have arrived for the fall holiday season.

"Its rectangular shape works well as a home pet accessory, a crate pillow and also as a travel bed for the back of an SUV,” Williams said. "The velvety microsuede fabric is easy to keep clean, as it can be wiped with a damp cloth and then vacuumed.

"We’ve found that if pet owners are going to splurge on a bed, they will do it during the holiday season. Also, the beds that feature blue, green and silver-grey both work well seasonally as well as being in line with current home décor trends.”

"Generally, we’ve found that retailers can draw attention to such products with great holiday signage and holiday-themed endcaps,” he added.

Janene Zakrajsek, co-owner of Pussy & Pooch Pethouse and Pawbar, which has stores in Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., agreed.

"We have a big wall of beds in our stores and rotate the merchandise depending on the theme we are promoting in store at the time,” she said. "Often, I use beds for a sub-display in-store to create height for the display and coordinate it with other themed merchandise.”

The store is well known for creating special gift ensembles for customers, but Zakrajsek said that she is yet to use a bed as the "base” for a gift basket.

"That’s something we have spoken about doing but have put into effect yet either,” said DePaoli.
 
Molly Mutt’s duvet and stuff-sack concept, whereby pet owners use their old blankets, clothes and even dirty laundry to create the bed fill, takes up very little retail shelf space.

"Apart from that practicality, there is also the novelty value, which makes it a great gift item,” said Art Simon, owner of the Berkeley, Calif., company.

"People buy them for themselves and also gift friends’ dogs and cats, as this concept works just as well for cats, too,” he added.

Heidi Vanorse Neal, owner of Loyal Biscuit Co., said she has had huge success in her three stores with Molly Mutt products as a gift item.

"People love the idea of recycling clothes and bedding,” she said. "And pets love the scent of their human in their beds, which definitely helps to ease stress and anxiety problems. And more importantly, the price is right. Pet parents can purchase a huge bed—and I mean huge—for around $50.”

New this holiday season from Nekochan Enterprises Inc., based in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, and known for its Neko flies cat toys, are two new cat beds called Neko Nappers, launched in time for colder months ahead.

The designs are a faux-fur cat sack/sleeping bag; the other is a portable house.

"Cat’s love to snuggle and hide out,” said Ellen Tsuyuki, company owner. "But they also love to discover new snooze zones in the home. These products are very portable and thus designed to meet both those needs.”

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