With the emergence of pet travel, the theories behind flea and tick protection have changed, because there is no longer just a season of flea and ticks. Instead it has become a year-round battle.
“I would say that over the past 5 years, the flea and tick ‘season’ seemed to be longer each year,” Stephanie Boone, founder and CEO of Wondercide, said. “There are certainly peak times and geographic locations, but with pets traveling more with their families, and rescuers driving cross-country to save animals from euthanasia, the seasonal lines have blurred.”
When administering flea and tick protection year-round, products that work and are safe, are some of the first things consumers think of.
“Oftentimes, consumers are misled and oversold falseness on the safety aspects and efficacy of products,” Peggy Smith, media and marketing director for Bio-Groom, said. “Educating consumers on the true facts about products versus false selling points will help them make wiser decisions.”
Jeff Fowler, national sales manager of Natural Chemistry, said the trend continues to grow and many consumers are looking for safe and effective products to solve their pets’ flea and tick problems.
“Consumers first need to focus on treating their yard and or kennel so that their pets do not bring the problem into the home,” Fowler said. “Natural Chemistry offers a yard and kennel product covering 4,500 square feet and it has a pleasant cinnamon, clove and vanilla scent. Once the yard is treated, consumers can focus on treating the pet and home with our other natural solutions.”
Two Types of Buyers
Boone said there are two types of buyers in the flea and tick category.
“The first type of buyer will continue to use topical or spot-on chemical-based products because, one, that is what their vet or retailer sells them and they trust their advice, two, that is what they have always done and what they see on TV, or three, because it’s easy to use and available everywhere,” he said. “However, this buyer is increasingly frustrated that the topical treatments aren’t as effective as they once were, whether OTC low cost or vet clinic higher cost, and will simply switch brands or double the dose to get the desired outcome.
“The second type of buyer will either never use or only use topical spot-ons in dire situations, usually before they have done any research for themselves because their pets don’t usually get fleas or ticks. This buyer only wants to use products on their pets that they trust are safe enough to use on themselves. They try to eliminate chemicals, detergents, cleaning agents, dyes, perfumes, etc., from their living environments whenever possible and try to eat organic. They feed their pets a high-quality kibble or partially raw diet. They believe in supplements and vitamins. They hate fleas and ticks as much as the first group, but will go through multiple home remedies and natural products before they will resort to chemicals in the home or on the pet.”
When talking to a customer, Boone suggests you first ask if they have an active flea and/or tick problem or if they want to prevent one.
“If they have an active population or an infestation, we urge them to ‘treat the source,’” Boone said. “Their home and lawn along with their pet(s), and not just the symptom, a pet with fleas or ticks. Insects come from outside and when they come inside, they can take over. When that is explained, it helps them understand the process and the products required to be successful the first time. This method reduces the impact on the animal and extends wellness by minimizing chemical exposure. A holistic approach is a winning approach and more cost-effective short and long term.
“If they don’t have a current flea or tick issue and simply want protection for outdoor activities, we direct them to EVOLV, our powerful repellent and contact-kill product for pets. As a preventive, they can apply the spray before walks, hiking or the puppy park. But it’s versatile. If they forget and find a flea or tick after play, they can simply spray the dog down and anything that hitched a ride is killed immediately. In a retail setting, understanding the problem is the best way to offer a solution and explain what is needed to win. In this case, one brand fits all, but how and when you use it varies by the crucial question: prevention or treatment?”
Carlos Zamora, the marketing coordinator for SynergyLabs, said the reason people use natural flea and tick products is because of the ingredients used.
“Non-natural products have synthesized ingredients that can be done on the cheap and prove to be very ineffective, while most natural flea and tick products include vitamins, which is definitely an added value for the dog,” Zamora said. “From a manufacturer’s stand point, producing organic products, especially in the flea and tick category, means that their raw materials are better in quality, which translated to a more effective product.”
Zamora noticed retailers and consumers look for authenticity in products.
“There are a lot of companies claiming to be natural when it’s really more of a marketing ploy,” Zamora said. “However, the consumer is now smarter than ever with easy access to a quick search online. A great rule of thumb of differentiating a real product from a fake one would be by viewing if the label contains a list of active ingredients, meaning those ingredients that are used in a treatment.”