The climate of Phoenix tends to discourage fleas and ticks—but the products needed to treat pest issues in the home still sit on the shelves of Noble Beast Natural Market for Pets.
"When infestations do occur, our customers are not used to dealing with them and are usually a bit panicked by the situation," said Marsha Vallee, co-owner. "Our customers want products that are nontoxic yet effective."
Ingredients that protect pets from harm yet eradicate stubborn pest infestations appear in new flea and tick products in all categories, including those formulated to treat infestations in the home.
"Consumers are seeking safe but effective products," said Joe Zuccarello, director of innovation and promotions for TropiClean in Wentzville, Mo.
Customers also seek products that deliver quality at a good price. Jameson Loves Danger in Chicago stocks products with more than one use to help customers effectively treat infestations while also saving a bit of money, said Jamie Kreines, manager.
"Many of our products provide treatment as well as prevention," Kreines said. "The natural sprays and shampoos are often a less-expensive option, which is appealing to our customers."
Natural options also appeal to pet owners at Noble Beast Natural Market for Pets—as the store’s name implies.
"Our focus is on products that work with herbs and other natural ingredients that are not toxic to pets, birds, lizards and other animals that share our backyards and homes," Vallee said. "Many items treat both the home and the pet, which saves the customer money."
Products that target all life cycles of the pests also can lend cost savings to customers by effectively eradicating the problem all at once.
"The product needs to eliminate the entire life cycle of fleas and/or ticks, or you’ll be dealing with a recurring problem as eggs continue to hatch," said Stephanie Boone, CEO of Austin, Texas-based Wondercide Natural Products.
Boone also noted that many pet owners are concerned about the aesthetic features of home treatment products, Boone added. When spraying a treatment on furniture and upholstery, they might wonder if the formula will leave unsightly marks.
"With any flea and tick home treatment product, you have to treat the entire home to be effective, so it’s really important to use a product that is safe enough to apply to all surfaces and does not stain," she said.
And while retailers should consider this wide range of factors—from safety to cost and effectiveness to nonstaining qualities—ultimately, the store’s customer base will determine the best types of flea and tick home treatments to stock.
"We want to make sure we carry quality products at reasonable prices," said Caitlin Sullivan, marketing manager for Cherrybrook Premium Pet Supplies, which has stores in New Jersey. "We look for flea and tick products that fill a customer need."
New Flea and Tick Treatments for the Home
With pet owners turning to natural formulas for everything from food to cat litter, it stands to reason that manufacturers now offer safe, effective natural flea and tick products in all categories, including those specifically meant to treat the home.
To that end, TropiClean introduced its Natural Flea & Tick Home Spray and Natural Flea & Tick Carpet Powder as part of the new Natural Flea & Tick line. The products feature cohesive packaging with simple instructions and eye-catching graphics to help pet owners quickly and easily identify the products as part of a full range of treatments, said Joe Zuccarello, director of innovation and promotions for the Wentzville, Mo., company.
"Providing a line that is easy to identify on the shelf, that is truly natural and, most of all, is safe and effective is something we take as a priority," Zuccarello said.
Safety and efficacy remain top priorities at Wondercide Natural Products in Austin, Texas, said CEO Stephanie Boone. The company recently introduced a Cedar + Rosemary scent for its natural Flea & Tick Control for Pets + Home spray.
"Essential oils are the active ingredients that make our products so effective for pet parents," Boone said. "They also have wonderful aroma-therapeutic qualities."
Manufacturers also hope to make flea and tick control simpler, easier and more successful for pet owners. In June, Bayer HealthCare of Whippany, N.J., will introduce product bundles that offer treatments for all aspects of flea and tick control, said Jeriel Chua, senior brand manager for Bayer’s Advantage brand.
"Advantage from Bayer will be launching … a flea infestation bundle for cat owners and a similar bundle for dog owners. Both will include our best-selling home product, Advantage Carpet & Upholstery Spot Spray," Chua said. "We want to make it easier for pet owners to leave the store with an option that can help them prevent and control flea infestations."
Flea and Tick Display and Promotion
At Cherrybrook Premium Pet Supplies, employees stock higher-end flea and tick control products at the front of the store in a high-visibility area. The location allows employees to discuss the products with customers who might not have come in specifically for flea and tick remedies, said Caitlin Sullivan, marketing manager for the New Jersey chain of stores.
"Our more-expensive flea and tick products are kept in a glass case at the register area," Sullivan said. "This prevents theft and also enables our employees to instruct customers on how to use the products."
Manufacturers recommend using the cash wrap area to display the latest in flea and tick products as well as small, one-use sizes of home treatments.
"An innovative way to merchandise flea and tick home treatment products is by keeping a basket of samples by the register to spur conversation with customers," said Stephanie Boone, CEO of Wondercide Natural Products in Austin, Texas. "Offering samples is a low-cost way to drive new retail business from customers who buy topicals from their vets."
The samples might send customers back down the aisles to pick up the latest products to treat the home. To that end, manufacturers emphasized the importance of eye-catching displays that include a range of home treatment products as well as those to treat the pet and the yard.
"Retailers can grow their category by ensuring they are offering home treatment products with a variety of delivery methods," said Kevin Metz, brand director for Vet’s Best, a brand of RPG Innovations in Dallas. "They should also ensure they have adequate representation of both traditional and natural-based solutions."
Consumer Education in Flea and Tick Products
The range of flea and tick products available to treat an infestation can seem daunting to a pet owner facing a problem with the pests.
"We found that shoppers often get confused with the assortment and options at the shelf," said Jeriel Chua, senior brand manager for Advantage, a brand of Bayer HealthCare in Whippany, N.J.
That’s where customer education becomes an important selling tool. The No. 1 recommendation manufacturers and retailers gave when it comes to education about flea and tick treatments for the home? Help pet owners learn to read the labels on all flea and tick products, no matter what their intended use.
"First and foremost, it is critical that consumers read the labels to determine the level of safety," said Stephanie Boone, CEO of Wondercide Natural Products in Austin, Texas, noting that staff education is equally important. "When employees understand how fleas breed and live—and how to truly eradicate and prevent them—they can effectively help their customers live healthier and happier lives."
Well-educated store associates can pass along valuable information to customers and help them make purchasing decisions that will effectively treat the flea or tick infestation in their homes while keeping their pets safe, retailers noted.
"We always try to ask questions about what our customers are looking for in a flea and tick product before we recommend one," said Jamie Kreines, manager of Jameson Loves Danger in Chicago. "It is important to understand what exactly each product will help to kill and prevent. Some products do not repel insects—they just kill the eggs or live fleas."
Employees at Cherrybrook Premium Pet Supplies also take time to thoroughly explain the features of flea and tick treatments for the home so the customer knows how to use the remedy before they leave the store.
"It’s important to know how to properly use the products," said Caitlin Sullivan, marketing manager for the chain of stores in New Jersey.
This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Pet Product News.