October 5, 2016

Pet cosmetics: Few other niches cause as varied reactions as this, with some consumers clamoring for more and better products, while others tease the coifed dogs. Regardless, the segment is growing—and quickly—though it’s still a small market. Those clamoring for more, however, tend to be millennials, often child-free, with expendable income they’re willing to spend on pampering their pets.

Once thought of as bling and polish, the cosmetics aisle is expanding rapidly into beauty and style products that mimic human products. Whatever the product, though, consumers are expecting the same level of quality for their pets that they expect for themselves.

“The grooming industry has piggy backed the ride in human cosmetics opting for a healthier alternative,” said Tara Pellegrino, a groomer who also serves as a distributor for Envirogroom Professional Pet Products. “Keep in mind, it is not only the pet’s skin and coat we are monitoring but also our own hands that are soaking in these products as well.”

Eric Bittman of Warren London said consumers are seeking better products.

“Consumers are starting to look for high quality products that actually work,” he said. “There are many watered-down products in the industry that are imported very cheaply from China and many companies don’t put ingredients on their bottles. We believe in all-natural, high-quality ingredients made here in the USA and are happy to show all of our ingredients on every product. Just like human products, we believe it’s important to know what ingredients you are using on your dog.”

Pellegrino agreed. thinkstockphotos-494761749

“Be wary of claims,” she said. “Pet stylists need to learn how to read labels. Just because it says ‘all natural’ or ‘organic’ in bold on the front of the packaging, doesn’t necessarily mean it is. In fact, if it is organic, the percentage of ingredients that are organic must be listed on the label, for example: organic jojoba oil (50 percent).”

Consumers are becoming hyper-aware of ingredients and label-savvy when it comes to their own beauty and cosmetic purchases, so the same demands are trickling into cosmetic grooming products.

“Another thing groomers need to keep in mind is that just because a product is natural, does not mean a pet will not have an allergic reaction,” Pellegrino said. “I often say grass is natural, yet more dogs are allergic to grass than anything else. That’s one of the reasons Envirogroom invented their certified gluten free product line for groomers and bathers with celiac disease. The general trend in the grooming world has to do with natural products. For the past few years, all product manufacturers have gone natural, organic, gluten free, soy free and the like.”

These trends follow along with the bigger shifts in the pet industry as a whole.

“Also driving this growth is now that many families are humanizing their dogs, they are consuming products that will give their pup a better quality of life,” Bittman said. “For example, 10 to 15 years ago no one cared if their dog licked their itchy paws, had dandruff and dry skin. Today, many concerned dog parents have great high-quality products to choose from to fix these ailments and give their puppy the happiness they deserve.”

These products are similar to what their human owners purchase for themselves. Exfoliation has been big in the human cosmetic industry for decades. Now, it’s popping up in products like Warren London’s Butter Wash with Exfoliating Jojoba Beads, which is a moisturizing shampoo that removes dead skin and dead hair from the dog.

At SuperZoo, Warren London launched a new product that is Dog Sunscreen with Aloe Vera Moisturizer to provide sun protection while moisturizing the coat.

When it comes to decorative cosmetics, just about anything goes: pet-friendly dyes, along with trendy cuts and bling applications, plus the standard nail polish.

“Groomers are also artists, so anything fun, such as creative color products and bling are hot right now,” Pellegrino said. “Few actually do full blown coloring in their spas due to the time and energy it takes to creatively color a dog, but most pet stylists dabble. Coloring tips of tails, ears and mohawks has become the norm. Stenciling products and blow pens sell out at all the groomer trade shows.”

When deciding what products to stock, consider your customer base. For at-home groomers, stencils and dyes, along with packets of adhesive bling, make great additions to endcaps and POP displays. For those who don’t groom at home and rely on your staff, try offering cosmetic services like bling applications and nail painting as an add-on to existing services.

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