December 13, 2016

When dog owners book a grooming appointment, grooming professionals examine the pet’s ears and often perform an ear cleaning as part of the service. However, dog owners should conduct their own routine at-home cleaning to stave off infection and keep the ears and canals clean and odor free. Some dog owners feel uncomfortable with the task because they don’t know how to clean their pet’s ears appropriately, and many are afraid of hurting the pet.

It’s a good idea to start a discussion by asking customers what signs and symptoms they’ve noted. There are several topics to discuss, depending on the client’s needs. Do they see a groomer or their vet regularly? Does their dog swim often?

Safe and Simple
Observations of discharge, odor, swelling or excessive scratching should first be referred to their veterinarian. Then, for clients looking to implement an at-home maintenance routine, be prepared to walk them through a safe cleaning routine.

Be sure to offer a range of products, including those that break up ear wax, dry out the canal or are convenient, like grooming wipes. In fact, grooming wipes are a simple way for reluctant dog owners to start an ear cleaning routine.

“When we created PL360 grooming wipes, we wanted to be sure it would be a product that pet owners can use on all areas of the pet, including sensitive areas like the ears,” said Katie Rogers, director of sales and marketing at PL360 Pet Care. “The gentle, plant-based formula works really well to remove wax and discharge, as well as any other kind of crust, odor or goop that has built up in the ears.”

Just like the trends in other grooming verticals, the demand in the ear products category is for natural, safe ingredients that are also effective.

“Ear cleaning is important to help support the overall health and wellness of dogs, which is why we use natural ingredients blended in a way that is not only effective in removing dirt, but that is also nourishing so it won’t leave your dog’s ears dry and susceptible to irritation,” Rogers said.

Offer Them Options
When choosing which products to stock on your shelves, it’s important to remember that customers want a range of options. They often will select not only what works for their dog but also what they feel confident using on their pet.

“We understand that at-home pet care can be stressful, so we like to make it as easy and convenient as possible for owners to keep up on it themselves,” said Lori Fouts, vice president of sales management at MiracleCorp. “Typically, they’re either looking for something that assists with a specific problem, like mites, for example, or they may have had issues in the past and are just looking for a safe and natural product they can use on their pet regularly as a preventative measure. Our products not only work, but they are very reasonably priced and cover both aspects of ear care previously mentioned: treatment for a specific issue and ongoing care options for preventative use. The treatment type that works best for one pet might not work as well for another, which is why we have sprays, cleaner pads, creams, powders and total ear care cleaning kits.”

At MiracleCorp, product development is driven by larger purchasing trends, according to vice president of sales management Lori Fouts.

“Convenient, at-home care products and natural remedies are growing trends in the pet industry,” she said. “We also like to look at the trends on the human beauty and care side. For example, multi-step face wash systems are popular with human consumers as well as two-part nail kits and such. We’ve been around long enough to know that consumers tend to mimic their own trends and preferences when it comes to purchasing products for their pets. Our stand-alone products and total ear care cleaning kits not only follow human consumer trends, but they ultimately provide a more efficient and effective solution to at-home ear care.”

Providing options, as long as they’re all equally effective, meets the varying needs of different dog owners and variety of dog breeds.

“It’s important [for the customer] to know that a variety exists in terms of how to actually clean their pet’s ear, but also to know that the products can be used in conjunction with each other because they are made up of all safe and natural ingredients” Fouts said.

She recommends merchandizing a complete line together to show customers the options available.

As the saying goes, a little education goes a long way. Signage in the aisle or a special end-cap display help guide customers to make the right purchasing decision, but one-on-one conversations can help make the sale.

Present a range of options in all types, from wipes to liquids to pre-soaked pads, and discuss the benefits of each for your customer’s needs and breed. Help them understand what they need, along with a product recommendation to meet that need, and you’ll have a satisfied customer.

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