July 1, 2014

Shedding is a natural process that drives consumers crazy.

“The single most common pet owner concern is shedding,” said John B. Vasone, national account manager for the pet category at ConairPRO. “Over the past 5 years, the deshedding category has exploded.”

Because of this explosion, consumers have an array of home products to choose from, in addition to services offered in the grooming salon.

“With the humanization of pets as members of the family, customers want nothing but the best for their four-legged family members,” said Bob Erler, national sales manager, animal division, at Andis Company.

That trend, which is observed across almost all pet product categories, informs additional consumer trends.

“The consumer trends that drive sales are the demand for ergonomic, professional grade tools that make brushing and combing pets an easier, more enjoyable experience,” he said.

In her store, Fifi and Fidos in San Antonio, Texas, Diana Farrar said that the trend that drives sales of deshedding products is the size of the customers’ dogs.

“For my smaller customers, Li’l Pals from Coastal and shedding combs are popular,” she said. “For the bigger ones, we’re seeing a lot of sales of FURminators.”

Some products, though, are designed for multiple sizes of dogs.

“We’ve had rave reviews of the Andis Dematting tool,” said Erler. “It removes mats, tangles and knots efficiently, even through long silky coats, with minimal pulling on the animals’ skin. The rounded cutting blades are specially designed to prevent scratching the animals’ skin, resulting in a more comfortable experience for both pet and owner. Ideal for both small and large dogs, the blades can be adjusted to accommodate left-handed groomers.”

Another popular item is the Andis Deshedding tool, which Erler said reduces shedding up to 90 percent while maintaining a damage-free top coat.

More Than One Purpose

Tools that are multifunctional are popular, too. Vasone said.

“Shed-It features a comfortable utility handle that accepts one of our two deshedding blades and our comb, pin brush and slicker brush attachments,” said Vasone. “That’s like having four tools in one. Shed-It delivers all the benefits of a deshedding tool with great value.”

The ability to multitask with a single tool is popular among price-conscious consumers.

Another trend, as Erler alluded to, is a deshedding tool that isn’t hard on the dog owner. Vasone agreed.

“When using Shed-It, consumers like the natural combing action used to deshed their pet,” said Vasone. “It is easy on the wrist and arm, while gently deshedding the animal. Our blades are removable and can be used left-handed or right-handed. There is also a fur-release button.”

Wahl Clippers offers a number of popular deshedding tools. The Soft Grip Double Row Rake with Shedding Blade is designed to untangle mats and remove loose undercoat for double-coated medium or long coated hair. The brand’s Double-Sided Shedding Blade is designed to remove loose hair and promote a healthy and lustrous coat.

FURminator is one of the category leaders, and is Farrar’s best-selling brand. She even uses the products on her own pets. The range of tools FURminator offers are designed to match a customer’s specific pet. There are short-hair and long-hair edge tools that can be matched to a dog’s body size to provide a customized grooming experience, which makes the tools popular among home groomers.

The key to successful sales of these products begins with the retailer working hands-on with the customer to find the right product for his or her dog.

“Retailers should ask customers what breed they have and recommend the best tools for the coat texture,” Erler said.

But, he pointed out, selling the tools also requires advising customers on the proper use.

“Remind customers that the tools work only if they are actively used,” he said. “Because of length and texture of fur, some dogs may need more frequent brushings, where others can be tended to once a week.”

He recommended that retailers with grooming salons should reinforce the message that at-home maintenance is essential for optimum pet health and comfort.

“Let’s not forget cats, which can benefit from the same brushes or combs to reduce shedding and maintain the coat,” he said. “As cats get older, they may not groom themselves as often and may require brushing to prevent matting.”
According to Vasone, retailers need to provide their customers with deshedding tool choices based on the pet owner’s animal, fur type, lifestyle and what the customer wants to spend.

“That means knowing all the product’s features and benefits and being able to demonstrate the product,” he said. “When you can satisfy the customer’s deshedding needs at the right price, you have a sale.”

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