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September 7, 2016

Combs and brushes provide the foundation for the at-home groomer’s kit. Although there is tremendous variety among consumers and the demands they place on the tools, there are a few basics that all combs and brushes need to hit: ease of use, comfort for both the dog and the owner, and affordability.

The right set of products in the grooming aisle can hit on all three of those main points. When it comes to the product mix, offering a variety is the solution to customer satisfaction. A solid assortment of traditional styles, new releases and fashion-forward products make up a successful mix.

Two-in-one brushes, like the flexible options from ActiVet, are perennial customer favorites and round out a well-curated product offering.

“ActiVet is the original flexible head, German grooming brush that will cut your brushing time in half,” said Chuck Simons, founder of Groomers Helper, distributor of ActiVet products. “With 40 percent of your non-bathing time spent undercoating, finish brushing or de-matting, the ActiVet brushes will give you back hours every single day that you can use to groom more dogs.”

Tammy Siert is an Andis Educator with more than 23 years of professional grooming experience. Siert began her competitive grooming career in 1994 and has competed around the United States and has represented GroomTeam USA. According to Siert, one of the most important sales tools for retailers is education: helping customers understand what each product is made to do.

Andis products are made to be used on any breed, plus there’s a variety of products to help every consumer have a choice.

“As a retailer, it’s important to understand the needs of the consumer,” Siert said. “Are they looking for a brush for a single or double coated breed? Do they want to remove dead undercoat? Or are they looking to remove matts? There are specific brushes and combs for each of those tasks, so you have to be cognizant of those priorities.”

“Many consumers believe that they only need to brush out their pets, but that’s not necessarily the case,” she added. “Combing is also just as important; they need to comb all the way to the skin. In order to meet the needs of consumers, retailers should be selling the consumer a comb to go along with the brush.”

That level of customer service—providing an education about each product for each customer’s specific pet—helps drive confidence among consumers. Since combs and brushes comprise a basic grooming kit that hopefully lasts, it’s important for the customer to understand how to use what they’re purchasing and ensure that they’ve made the right selection for their dog’s coat.

In addition, unique solutions appeal to customers who are looking for new, on-trend products.
According to Jay Michaelson, founder and CEO of HandsOn Gloves, there are three main factors that drive consumers to choose his product: convenience, time savings and sensitivity to natural care.

“We have [convenience and time saving] wrapped up with simply having a glove on each hand,” Michaelson said. “Grooming and bathing with two hands makes for a more efficient and thorough session. You can even handle shampoo bottles, lead ropes, leashes, control and support your animal all with your gloves on and not have to stop the process removing and picking up current-day tools. With the flexibility of the gloves and having nodules on the fingers, you can easily massage down to the skin coat all over your animals, releasing the natural essential oils all the way through to the surface coat. People are amazed at how shiny their furry friends get all over their bodies with just a few sessions.”

Michaelson said that a benefit of HandsOn Gloves is that they work for all breeds and other species, like cats.

“Some added benefits to the gloves we are hearing about range from double-coated breeds to long-haired cats,” he said. “On double-coated breeds, having our nodules on the fingers allows you to finally, easily reach through that second coat all the way to the skin, wet or dry. People are amazed how much dirt, dander and dead hair they are able to finally remove with the gloves.”

Whether your customers are looking for traditional products like those from ActiVet and Andis, or unique solutions like HandsOn Gloves, don’t forget the niche consumer—those shoppers who are interested in fashion-forward grooming trends. Currently, decorative cuts and artistic styles are rising in popularity.

“In the overall grooming industry, Asian-style grooming is a new trend, and Andis has some great combs that have a curved edge that are great for achieving the round face look that is so popular,” Siert said. “Consider merchandizing these products with your fashion apparel and accessories to offer the complete package to style-conscious customers.”

At the end of the day, it’s all about having the tools to keep pets primped.

“For at-home grooming specifically, the name of the game is maintenance,” Siert said. “Pet parents are looking for tools that will keep their pet looking and feeling great between visits to the groomer, and having the right brushes and combs are a critical piece of that pie.”

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