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Back to the Garden

Maggie Marton//February 2, 2015//

Back to the Garden

Maggie Marton //February 2, 2015//

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Natural products used to be a niche market. Now, all things “natural” have become a growth segment in every market—from food to toys to grooming—and they continue to gain ground.

As the natural products industry makes moves to claim a larger piece of the overall pet industry in 2015, Fetch…for Pets! expects continued strong growth, according to Elizabeth Fella, marketing coordinator at the company.

“More than ever, pets are part of the family and pet parents want products that are both effective and safe,” said Fella.

Customers have become discerning and demanding when it comes to natural grooming products, largely because the health and beauty aid segment has grown tremendously in the human market. As a result, owners expect the same natural ingredients and spa treatments to be available for their dogs.

“At Paw Naturals, we are very selective of the brands we carry. Every item is made in the U.S.A. or Canada, using all natural ingredients from companies with responsible and transparent manufacturing practices,” said Jami Ippolito, owner and founder of Chicago boutique Paw Naturals. “We do the homework for you by curating the best natural pet products out there so you don’t have to.”

At her store, Ippolito carries several brands of grooming products, and she looks at ingredients closely when choosing what to stock.

“All of them are derived from natural ingredients, no salts, sulfates, parabens or harsh chemicals,” she said. “Many use popular ingredients like tea tree oil, shea butter and coconut oil. Some are condition-specific: hot spots, dry skin, flea and tick prevention.” Her preferred brands include Burt’s Bee’s, Bobbi Panter, Cloud Star, Shea Pet, Pet Naturals of Vermont, earthbath, Tropiclean and Nootie.

Products with an emphasis on treating specific issues, like sensitive skin, are a growing segment of this market.

“With a large population of canines with skin sensitivities and dermatitis conditions, our Soothing Mud—loaded with calming ingredients like oatmeal, green tea, German chamomile—is very popular,” said Madra Mór’s Jacqueline Hynes. “Another popular treatment is our Shed Safely Mud, releasing the undercoat applied with a relaxing massage.

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We are seeing a worldwide response focusing on cleansing, protecting and rejuvenating the skin. We plan to grow the line, addressing specific issues, delivering natural skin care products that will help salons conveniently offer true spa treatments.”

Natural grooming products have expanded beyond shampoos and conditioners, too. At Paw Naturals, Ippolito said she carries a range of product types that will appeal to the dog owner who only wants to groom naturally.

“We have freshening sprays, leave-in foams, and wipes,” she said. “Dogs and cats are very sensitive to smells and chemicals, so the more natural, the better.”
However, she pointed out that scents are popular among dog owners who are choosing fragrances reminiscent of human products.

“Customers are loving the ‘Bath and Body Works’ type scents that are now trending in grooming. Nootie has fragrances like Japanese Cherry Blossom, Coconut Lime Verbena and Warm Vanilla Cookie. Who doesn’t want their dog to smell like a cookie? I think there will be more grooming lines jumping on the trend of human scents in future.”
Burt’s Bees will launch new products in 2015 to expand their grooming line.

“We will be adding two new products, Burt’s Bees Shed Control Dog Shampoo and Spray,” said Fella. “Both products are made with some of nature’s finest ingredients. They are made with omega-3s and vitamin E to strengthen the hair and reduce breakage to promote a healthy coat.”

Despite continued growth in this segment, pet boutique owner Ippolito said she sees gaps in the spa category; there aren’t enough natural products to sastisfy this type of customer.

“I think there’s a hole in the spa products: leave-in conditioners, scrubs, paw cleanser, face masks, deep conditioners and balms for nose and paws,” she said.

Natural personal care products have flourished, however, so we can expect to see these gaps closed in the pet market in the future. Additionally, there has been an expansion of the ingredients used in natural care lines, so expect to see novel things trickle into pet grooming products as well. Elements like volcanic minerals, jojoba oil, coconut oil, lemongrass and other aromatherapy additions and plant derivatives are appearing in the segment.

While some customers will seek out these products on their own, the key to expanding sales is through education. Consider adding creative signage to displays describing these interesting items and what the benefits of their ingredients would be to their pets to capture their attention and interest. While a display works well, interspersing natural brands within your existing grooming aisle will also help to introduce unfamiliar customers to these exciting new products.