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Consumers aiming to improve pet health


Consumers are increasingly weighing the health consequences of all of their purchasing decisions, including products for their four-legged family members.

From food and treats to toys and grooming products, shoppers are seeking items for their pets that offer the same healthy attributes as the products they buy for themselves.

“Without a doubt, as pet ownership expands, many consumers, especially those who have embraced a healthier lifestyle, want to be sure that their pets live healthier and longer lives,” said John Vasone, national sales manager at ConairPRO Pet. “They are looking at products that are safe and healthy.”

The trend toward more thoughtful care for pets comes as consumers increase their spending overall on the category. According to IRI, multi-outlet sales of pet products rose 3.2% for the 52-week period ended Aug. 13, to $4.3 billion.

The rise of the millennial generation is propelling these trends, as consumers in the 18 to 34-year-old age group have become a formidable force in the pet products category. Furthermore, they will spend much more in the years to come, according to a 2016 report from Packaged Facts titled “Millennials as Pet Market Consumers.” About 1-in-3 pet owners are millennials, the report stated.

These young consumers are more concerned about maintaining pet health than older generations, and also are more likely to trust themselves to take responsibility for some aspects of pet care, such as oral hygiene, according to the report.

One way to appeal to these pet-owning millennials is to offer an assortment of grooming tools, said Vasone. Frequent grooming using the right tools can help pet owners maintain the health and appearance of their pets’ coats, he said.

Consumers also are carefully reading labels to weed out products that contain ingredients they consider harmful or unhealthy.

For example, grooming products supplier Wahl seeks to appeal to health-conscious pet owners with a line of shampoos made with essential plant oils, contain no parabens and are pH-balanced.

“We are designing these to be safe and easy for your dog,” said Shay Moeller, product manager, North American consumer pet, at Wahl Clipper. “They rinse out easily, and the residue doesn’t stay in the coat or the fur.”

Brands vs. private labels

One of the keys for retailers to succeed in the pet category, according to Moeller, is to offer consumers enough variety to give the category density and allow shoppers to assess the relative value of the items.

“If people go into a store and they see only one grooming tool, or one brush, or one type of shampoo, they tend not to shop those categories,” he said.

While many retailers have embraced private labels in the pet category, Moeller said retail drug chains have seen sales gains in this area of the store by offering a “good-better” product selection with a private-label item and a Wahl-branded product.

“We are finding that if you put in a brand, your category dollars go up,” he said. “If you have one SKU of private-label shampoo, then put in one branded shampoo.”

Branded products help lend credibility to a retailer’s pet category, suppliers said.

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