Comfort and durability remain key selling points for dog and cat beds, industry insiders report. Meanwhile, consumers’ color and material preferences continue to evolve.
This season pet owners are on the lookout for neutral and modern patterns, colors and prints.
"Blues, grays and blacks that fit with a variety of clean décor are popular," said Sarah Johnson, sales coordinator at P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle and You), a San Francisco-based manufacturer of dog beds and toys.
Shoppers are also becoming more discerning about the materials used to construct pet beds.
"They want to be assured that all materials are totally safe and increasingly favor beds that offer some level of eco-friendly, sustainable materials," Johnson added.
The bedding category is being influenced by consumers’ growing awareness of the impact materials have on the planet as well as our health, agreed Sandra Bosben, president of Marty’s Meals, a retailer in Boulder, Colo., and Santa Fe, N.M.
"They want to support companies that support sustainable practices," Bosben said. "Our companion animals are essential to our families. Many of our clients have a bed in every room, and they want it to blend in to the décor while still being comfy, functional and safe."
Right now, the best-selling types of beds are cups, bolsters and orthopedic, several insiders stated, with plush comfort a popular additional feature.
"People with small dogs like the cup beds, and people with larger dogs want something they can wash but [that] is also plushy enough for their big babies," said Sherry Redwine, co-owner of Odyssey Pets, a pet store in Dallas. "Cats like to cuddle up tight, so they like smaller, cuplike beds."
At Total Pet Care, a pet supply store in Holbrook, N.Y., customers fall into two distinct categories, said president Joe Manzi.
"There are customers who are looking for comfort (orthopedic style) and/or fashion (color/fabric)," he said. "We still sell a ton of crate pads and double-layer sheepskin beds as well. For cats, the standards are still the kitty cup and the hideaway bed."
Like their feline companions, cat customers can be particular.
"We find that the majority of cat owners are more selective on fabric textures and want lower price points under $50," said Tina Nguyen, designer and founder of Jax & Bones, a Los Angeles-based manufacturer of dog beds.
8 Strategies to Best Display Pet Beds
Retail space is limited, and pet beds have the potential to take up much of that valuable real estate. Several manufacturers and pet specialty stores shared their top strategies for merchandising dog and cat beds.
1. Be Selective
"My best advice is to select one or two styles at most and create a beautiful stack," said Kimi Proffer, owner and designer for Luca For Dogs, a Chatsworth, Calif.-based manufacturer of dog beds. "You don’t even need a ton of colors; sometimes less is more."
2. Utilize Vertical Space
"Making the most of one’s space by using vertical spaces can be useful in not only optimizing limited square footage, but also it gets the beds closer to customers’ eye level and seen more easily," said Sarah Johnson, sales coordinator at P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle and You), a San Francisco-based manufacturer of dog beds and toys.
3. Line ’Em Up
"We have several areas now where we can stack beds like books on a bookshelf," said Sandra Bosben, president of Marty’s Meals, a retailer in Boulder, Colo., and Santa Fe, N.M. "This fits more beds, and people can file through them like they do with books or clothes on a rack."
4. Hang Up Thin Items
"Another option for thinner mat-style beds like P.L.A.Y.’s Chill Pads is to hang beds vertically from a clothing rack with clip-style hangers," Johnson said. "This gets beds up off the floor, at eye level, and hung together for quick review and comparison of size and colors."
5. Make Them Available to Touch
"I used to display them on top of all my food shelves," said Sherry Redwine, co-owner of Odyssey Pets, a pet store in Dallas. "I now have two 4-foot wire metal racks dedicated to just beds. If people can touch them without having to ask for help, they’ll be more likely to shop and buy."
6. Choose a Central Location
"Keep them centrally located, as beds can often times be an impulse buy," Proffer said.
7. Provide Swatches for Orders
"Utilizing an option like P.L.A.Y.’s in-store ordering kit program to carry the full range of P.L.A.Y. beds without having to stock all the sizes and color options in the store is an awesome way to save space," Johnson said. "[It only] requires a few beds in the store for the customer to experience and a swatch book and reference sheet for them to make their selections."
8. Switch Up Fabrics
"For pet beds you need to understand that this is a home product, and looking at the same brown fabric bed in the store for more than six months can get boring for the retail client," said Tina Nguyen, designer and founder of Jax & Bones, a Los Angeles-based manufacturer of dog beds. "If the shape does well, consider choosing a new fabric."
Neutral Colors, Soft Fabrics Surge
Recent releases in the pet bed category have focused on comfort and color. With pet owners preferring earthy and décor-friendly colors and patterns, some of the newest collections are keeping to browns, blacks and grays.
Last year, P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle and You) launched leopard brown and graphite black colors in the company’s Snuggle Beds line for dogs and cats. Featuring dirt-resistant canvas on one side and faux fur on the other, the convertible beds can be used in four shapes to match any pet’s sleeping style, according to the San Francisco-based company.
The company also added Big Sur brown and Alcatraz black options to its line of California Dreaming Memory Foam Beds, and a variety of modern colors and patterns, including blues, grays and black, for its Mosaic, Celestial and Solstice Lounge Beds. All the beds contain the manufacturer’s PlanetFill filler, use upholstery-grade fabrics, and are 100 percent machine washable and dryer friendly, said Sarah Johnson, sales coordinator.
Jax & Bones introduced the Achromatic Collection of handcrafted beds last fall. With a black, brown, gray and white color palette, these beds are designed to complement any home environment. The collection includes lounge beds, pillow beds, napper beds, sleeper beds, donut beds, memory foam cuddlers and cozy mats. They are entirely handcrafted in the USA and stuffed with the Los Angeles-based company’s signature filler Sustainafill, which is made from recycled soda bottles, according to the manufacturer.
Luca For Dogs also came out with new beds last fall. As an offshoot of its Cuddler beds, the Chatsworth, Calif.-based manufacturer unveiled the Puff Cuddler Orthopedic Bed in rose, midnight and light gray. The bed combines plush soft fabric, an overstuffed bolster and an orthopedic pillow, and the removable cover is washer and dryer safe, company officials said.
Success Comes with Staying on Mission
Location and audience are key factors for pet specialty retailers when deciding on which and how many dog and cat beds to carry.
"For considering an ideal assortment, each store will need to first consider their region and customer base," said Sarah Johnson, sales coordinator at P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle and You), a San Francisco-based manufacturer of dog beds and toys.
She said that knowing the average client’s pet size and temperature needs are helpful in stocking these products. Retailers might consider UV- and weather-resistant beds for the warm outdoors or soft, cuddly beds for chilly nights.
"Lastly, a solid understanding of customer desire for print/material styles and colors is important to meet their expectations," she said.
Sandra Bosben, president of Marty’s Meals, a retailer in Boulder, Colo., and Santa Fe, N.M., knows her customers well, and they are typically conscious of quality and the sustainability of the materials used, she said.
"A lot of our clients appreciate companies that are B Corp, so our selection is limited by company values," she said. "There are many beds out there, but not many that align with our company values. That’s one way we select."
Of those beds that make the cut, Bosben said the stores carry a couple of each style and size, displaying around 30 on the floor and storing the rest in back. Associates will also order anything they don’t have in stock for customers.
Total Pet Care, a pet store in Holbrook, N.Y., also focuses its selection of dog and cat beds on the company’s philosophy.
"Our belief is to have a product mix that appeals to all of our clients, each visit," said president Joe Manzi. "We always aim to provide functional, affordable products at the best price we can offer. We feel our mix represents this philosophy and leads to many repeat sales of beds, which is very important as well."
Manzi said they vary their pet bed assortment to one of each color and one of each size.
"We mix them so that we keep less in our selling space but provide our customers with our entire assortment, so they don’t have to ‘imagine’ how big a certain bed is," he said. "We always offer a high-end bed, which we always have on sale, and a less expensive alternative—usually a display, with all on sale. We find that we sell both equally, instead of just selling the cheaper beds using this method."