Now more than ever, pet owners are focusing on the health and wellness of their pets as they would any family member, and that’s caused a rise in natural supplement sales. As a result, more manufacturers are coming out with new products, and pet specialty retailers are expanding their product mix.
Kirk Forrest, owner of Wag N’ Wash in California, Md., has found the newest trend to be the use of cannabidiol (CBD)-based pet supplements to help alleviate anxiety, pain and inflammation.
"We’ve seen an influx of clients looking for more natural and holistic treatments and an increase in herbal therapy purchases," he said. "It’s important to have more than one product form—chewable, liquids, etc.—to diversify consumers’ options and to fully train and educate the staff about the benefits of the products."
Harald Fisker, president of Grizzly Pet Products in Woodinville, Wash., said the new kids on the block for pet specialty, as born by popular demand, are hemp-enhanced products.
"These products are enhanced by small amounts of hemp oil or hemp meal, typically from organically grown hemp, which is naturally refined to products containing certain amounts of CBD, but zero percent THC, the active chemical in cannabis, etc.," he said.
The market for non-CBD, natural supplements and remedies that support pets’ health is also gaining traction. In response, Denise Strong, co-owner of Pawz On Main in Cottonwood, Ariz., is expanding her store’s assortment.
"I have been doing extensive research," she said, adding, at press time, that she hoped to find quality suppliers at the SuperZoo tradeshow in Las Vegas in June. "I spend extensive time on research, so I have the proper knowledge to market the products. I try to have firsthand experience in the use of the products I sell by utilizing the supplements with my own six dogs for their needs."
Among the market’s offerings for natural supplements is the Life by TropiClean line. James Brandly, marketing coordinator for TropiClean in Wentzville, Mo., said the line provides several solutions to help optimize a dog’s health.
"Life by TropiClean Supplement for Dogs offers supplements that address specific issues like hip and joint, skin and coat, calming, probiotic and digestion," he said. "Each supplement we produce offers a natural solution for pets and their people. Our supplements are easy to use, and dogs love them."
Marketing & Merchandising
Spreading the Word
While natural pet supplements sales are on the rise, pet specialty retailers looking to maximize the sales potential of the category should continue to look for opportunities to market these products and educate customers on their potential benefits, according to industry participants.
"Host in-store promotions and offer online coupons that showcase different pet supplements," said James Brandly, marketing coordinator for TropiClean in Wentzville, Mo. "TropiClean offers numerous resources on our free pet professional site on our website for retailers to utilize. It’s our role to provide solution-based dog supplements that are effective and easy to use with packaging that clearly communicates its appeal to pet parents."
Bend Pet Express, which has two locations in Bend, Ore., dedicates the entire month of September to food toppers, mixers and supplements that can be added to pets’ food, with a promotion called "What’s in your bowl?"
"We get that most people add something into their pets’ food bowl, so we have samples, freebies and screaming deals in September to allow [customers] to try stuff out," said Kim McCohan, chief happiness officer for the stores. "This is where we talk one-on-one about supplements and adding them into their pet’s diet for that extra kick."
Additionally, in June, the store heavily promotes calming supplements in anticipation of July Fourth fireworks, which are a source of anxiety and fear for many pets.
Retailers also can boost consumer awareness of the category by placing products in prominent areas of the store and creating attention-grabbing displays.
TropiClean offers a merchandising display for its Life by TropiClean line that groups the supplements together in organized rows.
"Retailers need to keep their shelves clean and easy to navigate to attract people to the supplements," Brandly said. "The packaging and display helps catch the customer’s eye, helping educate the customer on each product."
At Bend Pet Express, the most common supplements are displayed next to its popular kibble bags so customers can grab both at the same time.
"Signage helps," McCohan said. "Imagine a senior bag with a hip and joint product next to the bag with a sign that clearly indicates this is for those dogs that need a little extra help standing up. We also created really simple mini signs that are nothing but an image to get the point across—a tooth to indicate dental health, a scale for weight loss, an up-close hair follicle for skin and coat, etc."
Kirk Forrest, owner of Wag N’ Wash in California, Md., said he places trending natural supplements toward the front of the store by the checkout area.
"This is where we have the most traffic and have the most potential influence [over] our guests’ purchasing habits," he said.
Pawz On Main in Cottonwood, Ariz., merchandises supplements in different areas of the store.
"Some new products are displayed right at the checkout counter," said co-owner Denise Strong. "The remainder have their own unique display cabinets and cases in prominent areas of the store."
On the Shelves
Julie Miller, director of marketing for NaturVet, a division of Garmon Corp., in Temecula, Calif., said the company now offers hemp-based solutions to address several health issues: Allergy, Calming, Immune and Joint.
"The new line combines hemp seed oil and hemp seed powder for pet parents looking for the additional health benefits from hemp-based products," she said.
While many new cannabidiol (CBD)-containing products are of the tincture type to be used by the drop, Grizzly Pet Products is initially focusing on a krill oil-based calming product with hemp oil, as well as existing joint products enhanced with hemp oil or hemp meal, in both cases intended to soothe and offer joint support, said Harald Fisker, president of the Woodinville, Wash.-based company.
"Both Grizzly Calming Aid and hemp-enhanced variants of Grizzly’s Joint Aid line will be shown at SuperZoo," Fisker said at press time.