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May 3, 2016

Eye care should be a daily habit for almost all dog owners, yet it rarely is. This category provides ample opportunity for customer education and matching the right eye care product to the right dog.

Safety First

“We see that there are really two different types of consumers in the category,” said Doug Gleason, president of TrueBlue Pet Products. “One group is made up of those people who have dogs who get tear stains, and the other group is looking for more general eye care.”

“For the people who are dealing with tear stains, they are looking for a product that is both effective at removing the tear stains and also safe for the pet,” Gleason said. “And that’s no small order. Years ago, many people were using food additives that included antibiotics. These products did a great job of eliminating the tear stains, but many consumers began to think that it was overkill to be giving their dog antibiotics every day just to treat this condition. So they began looking for other ways to deal with tear stains. Tear stains are very stubborn and hard to remove, but the strongest cleansers that most quickly remove the stains can be very harsh and irritating to the skin.”

For customers whose dogs aren’t prone to tear stains but who are looking for a daily maintenance solution to prevent problems, safety is still key.

“For the consumers who just want general eye care, they are primarily concerned with safety,” Gleason said. “They want to feel comfortable that it’s okay to use the product so close to the eye. For example, they may want a wipe that they can use to remove the crust that can appear in the corner of the eye in the morning.”

Safety-minded customers benefit from an in-store demonstration about how to quickly groom their dog’s eyes with the products available for purchase.

TrueBlue’s Safe and Sure Eye Wipes strike a balance between strong and safe. It includes all-natural witch hazel to clean, and chamomile and cucumber to soothe the delicate skin around the eyes.

“Also, our pads have a special texture that helps pull dirt away from the fur, and many people tell us they are the perfect size and shape for the job,” Gleason said.

Because eye care should be a daily grooming task, consumers seek simple, easy-to-use options like wipes and cloths. Grooming tasks should be an enjoyable experience for both dog and person, but that isn’t always the case with eye wash solutions. Quick and easy wipes solve that problem.

Miracle Care Sterile Eye Wash Pads are formulated to clean and remove uncomfortable debris from the eye. The formula is soothing and non-stinging on pre-soaked pads.

Another wipe option is Angels’ Eyes Gentle Tear Stain Wipes. Recommended for daily use, Angels’ Eyes Gentle Tear Stain wipes help remove dried mucus secretions, discharge and tear stains.

“Used daily, our award-winning Angels’ Eyes Gentle Tear Stain Wipes will keep a pet’s eye exterior clean and reduce the risk of irritation caused by foreign matter,” said Lynda Winkowski, president of Angels’ Eyes. “Our unique formulation requires no rinsing and is safe to use daily.”

In the future, product development in eye care will be shifting toward natural.

“The trend that we think is most important is that consumers want products that are both natural and really work well,” according to Gleason. “Ten years ago, people were willing to accept a less effective product if it was natural. Now they expect both: all-natural products that truly get the job done.”

Demos and Dedicated Sections

Some owners prefer at-home grooming to salon appointments, so when planning your eye care section, blunt-tipped scissors round out the wash and wipe options. Long-haired breeds risk eye injury if the hair around the eyes grows long enough to scratch the eye. Those owners––even the ones who bring their dogs for regular grooming sessions––could benefit from a demonstration and a scissor purchase to learn how to trim at home between appointments.

Gleason recommended that all eye care products be merchandised in an easy-to-navigate section.

“I do believe that it’s smart for a retailer to create an eye care section with all the products in the category,” he said. “For the consumer who is looking for an eye care product, that’s the easiest way to be able to compare all the different products at one point at the shelf.”

Offer an array of product solutions but be prepared to discuss with customers their eye care needs. This category walks the line between health and aesthetics. Many dog owners are unaware that a quick, daily swipe of the eye can prevent health problems from cropping up. Likewise, many dog owners are unware of the distinction between debris that can be wiped away each morning and debris that signifies a health concern. Dog owners who come into your store looking for eye care solutions may be dealing with a medical condition that should be referred to a veterinarian. Be prepared to guide customers to the right product, grooming service or veterinarian.

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