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Gift-Giving Ideas to Inspire Retailers, Drive Holiday Revenue

Glenn Polyn//July 20, 2021//

Young woman in santa costume sits with a dog in a hat on a white background

Gift-Giving Ideas to Inspire Retailers, Drive Holiday Revenue

Glenn Polyn //July 20, 2021//

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It’s never too early to prepare for the holiday season. The “most wonderful time of the year” was not so wonderful last year as COVID-19 cancelled Halloween and made the holidays a virtual event. Nonetheless, gift giving is a way to connect with family and friends, including our furry loved ones.

The holiday season starts off strong with Halloween as Americans spent $490 million on pet costumes in 2019 alone, according to a study released by the National Retail Federation. With COVID-19 putting a halt to celebrations in 2020, consumers are sure to make up for it this year and retailers should be planning ahead to keep up with the demand.

Themed products are a way for furry friends to participate in the celebrations. LupinePet offers holiday-themed collars, leashes, harnesses, keychains and ID tags for both cats and dogs.

“Adding holiday inventory begins in late summer,” said Tracy McCarthy, marketing director at LupinePet. “For our brand, holiday-themed collars are usually driven by impulse buying, so having the inventory in-store provides the flexibility to display these products at the best time for the retailer. Planning ahead, either by pre-booking with a specified ship-date or managing orders with vendors that maintain good turnaround time, is key.”

LupinePet padded handle dog leashes come in festive holiday designs, such as Jack O’Lantern and Turkey Trot. The popular holiday dog leashes are made with strong, durable nylon webbing and welded steel hardware, are available in two inches, four inches or six inches lengths and three widths to suit any size dog and feature a traditional trigger style snap.

Although early preparations can help a retailer boost holiday sales, once the season is in full swing, it’s important to properly display the merchandise as well as incentivize your customers. All The Best Pet Care, the first natural pet supply store in the Greater Seattle area, opened in 1985 and has grown to 15 stores, but remains family-owned and operated. Deb Wilson, co-CEO of All The Best, believes that her customers enjoy spoiling their pets during the holidays and those who are a member of the retailer’s rewards program reap the benefits.

“We do a once-a-year mailed gift guide to showcase our special holiday selections,” Wilson said. “And we offer members of our rewards program a discounted shopping spree.”

A rewards program is a simple way a retailer can incentivize customers, but can also be used as a method to showcase specialty products such as holiday themed items. Rewards members can get the first look at your inventory, making them feel important and elite compared to being a regular walk-in customer. These programs are not subjected to just retailers’ customers, but also the retailers themselves.

“We are really proud of our retailer programs,” said Neal Applefeld, president and CEO of Old World Christmas. “We start each year with an early buy discount program and offer significant volume discounts as well. We believe our retail programs and customer service are among the best in the industry.”

Manufacturers and retailers should work together to properly showcase products in-store. With a saturated market, brands should create an eye-catching display to draw customers to their product rather than a different one. On their own, Nite Ize products are noticeable as they have a line of LED toys, but the brand understands the important of in-store displays.

“We’ve introduced several new display options this year that work for any retail space,” said Diana Chandler, national account manager at Nite Ize. “From our updated gravity bin displays to our dual-sided counter spinner to our full-sized powerpanel displays, we can offer several display styles for holiday and year-round merchandising. Displays can be customized to meet the needs of each retailer, or we have pre-set options that make the decision process quick and easy.”

Nite Ize LED toys like the Glowstreak LED Ball and the Flashflight Dog Discuit LED Flying Disc allow your dog to enjoy their favorite activity even in the winter months when it gets dark quickly. The Flashflight Dog Discuit LED Flying Disc is a color-changing LED dog disc that features soft-touch (bite-friendly) plastic and is made specifically for nighttime play. The long-lasting LED glows brightly so neither you nor your four-legged friend will lose track of it. It also has easily replaceable batteries that are housed under a canine-resistant cap.

COVID-19 had a major impact on our lives, but it also affected the products you see on the market. Movies, sports and pop culture icons are always at the top of each year’s trending products.

“In 2020, items reflecting COVID were very popular, particularly our Santa wearing a face mask and our toilet paper ornament,” Applefeld said. “Often, parents will select a new ornament for each child every year based on activities or interests.”

For those who don’t wish to be reminded of the pandemic, Old World Christmas has an extensive range of not only dog and cat ornaments, but also birds, hamsters, reptiles and fish. Last year, the brand acquired the Ginger Cottages line. These intricately made laser cut wooden ornaments offer a broad range of dog breeds in the K-9 Cottage collection. While pet owners are looking to spoil their pets, consumers are not willing to sacrifice their morals and values. The sustainability trend and eco-friendly products are making their way into the pet industry and include food and treats, toys and accessories.

“West Paw has been using eco-friendly materials for years and we are seeing many of our competitors follow us in prioritizing recycled materials into their products,” said Spencer Williams, owner and CEO of West Paw. “We are proud that we can lead the way and bring the pet industry along with us in providing pet owners more sustainable choices for their pets.”

West Paw offers a line of Zogoflex toys, such as the Hurley Small Ruby Red. This toy is a ball, stick and bone all in one. Dogs love it for gnawing and fetching (especially in water); owners like the easy dishwasher clean-up. Like all Zogoflex dog toys, The Hurley is recyclable, made in the U.S.A. and is available in three sizes: large eight and a quarter inches, small six inches and mini four and a half inches.

Since 2004, West Paw has been converting post-consumer recycled Zogoflex toys into new toys. West Paw encourages dog owners to send back their dog-tired Zogoflex toys so that they can be recycled through the Join the Loop infinite recycling program. Retailers are also incentivized to collect Zogoflex toys back from their consumers and send them back to West Paw for credit.

The holiday season means toys on the market are not just the standard bones for dogs or mice for cats. Adam Baker, founder and president of True Dogs, creator of the SodaPup line of dog toys, has used nylon molds to create festive, fun toys. “We have a roasted turkey toy for Thanksgiving,” he said. “It’s kind of funny, it’s a roasted turkey. It’s kind of silly, but it’s a great toy, super durable.”

Offered in two sizes, medium and large, the MKB Roasted Turkey Durable Rubber Chew Toy & Treat Dispenser is designed to withstand the abuse of most power chewers. Made to help a dog fight boredom, the Roasted Turkey Toy with treats like kibble, canned dog food, peanut butter or favorite dog treat recipe. Made in the U.S.A., the toy is also dishwasher safe and easy to clean.

In the pet care industry, sustainable products do not mean lower quality. Pet owners and manufacturers alike want a product to have a positive impact on the environment and your pet’s life. Years ago, many dogs were likely sleeping on older, lower quality beds, blankets or even just on the floor. Today, there is no question that a dog needs a bed.

“We feel that a comfortable bed is as valuable to dogs as they are to humans,” Williams said. “So we can safely say the biggest pet market trend is ‘the measure of the quality of life gap, between humans and dogs.’ As humans become in tune with the concepts of ‘wellness’ and ‘healthy living,’ we see them integrating similar values into their pets’ lives.”

The West Paw Big Sky Nap Dog Mat features a reversible design with faux fur on one side and fleece on the other, is crate-friendly sized for at home or on-thego adventures, easy to clean, one-piece washer-and-dryer-safe and is made with Oeko-Tex Certified safe textiles.

Guy Harvey also understands the importance of creating eco-friendly, quality pet beds to thank them for providing unparalleled comfort during the last year. Guy Harvey pet beds are made from eco-friendly recycled polyethylene terephthalate, or recycled PET.

PET is a strong, durable and recyclable material and each bed is made with at least 12 bottles. The fiberfill is also made from eco-friendly recycled PET fiber with a minimum of 75 bottles per bed. All beds are printed with 100 percent biodegradable water-based inks and all products are made in the Americas.

“People are spending more time than ever with their pets and we expect 2021 holiday season to be at record levels as people reward their ‘best friends’ for the comfort they provided over the previous year,” said Jane Tebbe-Shemelya, chief revenue officer at Guy Harvey, adding that brand is planning to offer a holiday bundle. Holiday gifts don’t always have to be grand gestures that break the bank. Up Country aims to offer stylish gifts that both you and your pet can enjoy.

“We’ve invested in developing our new Swag Tag, which allows consumers to change their tags from collar to collar with ease,” said Cynthia Barlow, vice president of marketing at Up Country. “This is especially helpful during the holidays, so consumers can easily change their dog’s tags from their everyday collar to a holidayone without complication.”

A small change like a tag can boost your pets’ holiday look while making it easy on the owner. Some pet owners like a big change for the holidays, which is why Up Country offers about 10 designs in the holiday collection that cover general winter, Christmas and Hanukkah themes. Humans aren’t the only ones who wear Christmas sweaters as Up Country features two Christmas themed sweaters.

Dressing pets in the latest holiday fashion is fun for the owners, but what the animals really want are the treats. Lazy Dog Cookie Co.’s new vintage-inspired stocking-stuffer treats, Soft-Baked Coconut Snowballs and Soft-Baked Vanilla Shortbread, are the perfect holiday treat for your four-legged friend. These made in the U.S.A., nostalgic treats will be available to start shipping July 15 for the 2021 holiday season. With the option to write the pup’s name on the treat stocking bag, these make gift giving more personal.

Einstein Pets makes 100 percent all-natural organic treats made with human-grade ingredients like protein-packed peanut butter, sweet potato, and heart-healthy oatmeal. Chia seeds are added to every batch for a boost in nutrition and fiber for healthy digestion. The health benefits of chia seed include more calcium (per ounce) than milk, more antioxidants than blueberries and eight times more Omega-3 fatty acids than wild salmon. Made and sourced in the U.S.A., these treats are a low-calorie option that is wheat, corn and soy-free.

“Our Ugly Sweater Party five-ounce bag was launched late last year,” said Kelly Ison, founder and CEO of Einstein Pets. “We plan to do a formal launch of this amazing product for 2021 holiday season. We are looking to offer a banner or unique Ugly Sweater for retailers to use for in-store with Ugly Sweater Party product.”

PureBites treats makes natural and tasty treats for your feline friend such as their Grain Free Holiday Turkey Recipe Dry Cat Treats. This PureBites product is made with only one ingredient; 100 percent pure and natural U.S.A.-sourced human grade turkey. The treats are freeze dried to lock in the aroma, texture and freshness cats crave. Wanting to feed your cat healthy options, even during the holidays, does not mean sacrificing taste.

A holistic pet supplies store featuring natural products, Animal Crackers in Clark, New Jersey, also sells themed toys and pet accessories. The store is gearing up to welcome both pet owners and friends of pet owners this holiday season.

“I felt like a lot of Christmas toys we do sell are for people visiting other people that have a dog,” said Janine Ling, owner of Animal Crackers, adding that interactive toys such as food puzzles have been big sellers due to pets being bored during the pandemic.

Having a rotation of inventory based on the season, such as life jackets in the summer and winter coats in the colder months, Animal Crackers is keen on keeping up with the ever evolving trends and demands of pet owners.