June 3, 2014

Just as consumers’ demand for all-natural health and beauty aids grows in the human market, it has started to infiltrate the pet grooming segment, as well.

So what makes a grooming product natural?

“The difference between a natural grooming product and a conventional grooming product is in the ingredients used,” Marie Svet, of Organic Oscar, said. “A natural grooming product won’t be using synthetic ingredients. The natural grooming products are formulated with ingredients that are plant based and should not contain any petroleum-based ingredients or sulfate, for example.”

Steven Shweky, Top Dog at Fetch…for pets! took the definition further.

“Natural means that there is minimal processing and no artificial additives,” he said. “The ingredients in natural products are from nature and do not involve chemicals that require hazardous licensing or testing on animals.”

Concerned consumers are extending their own desire for less harmful, environmentally friendly products to their furry family members, too.

“The demand for natural and high-quality product is increasing,” Svet said. “Pet parents are more and more aware that small hygiene habits can sometimes make a big difference in maintaining healthy skin.”

Svet said it’s important to use natural products on pets because their skin is sensitive.

“It is actually comparable to baby skin,” she said. “Our pets also have a natural oil that protect them, so if you use aggressive conventional grooming product, you will remove that natural oil and their skin will start drying, become itchy, and so on.”

Organic Oscar’s best-sellers include the Holistic Bite and Itch Relief Shampoo, Oatmeal Shampoo and Lavender Puppy Shampoo because they have been formulated to soothe itchy skin and allergies. At this year’s Global Pet Expo, the company launched the Holistic Bite and Itch Relief Spray, which is a topical formulated with natural ingredients to soothe and calm irritated skin.

Effective Benefits

At Reliq, Cameron Fang said that they consider a natural product one with holistic or therapeutic herbal ingredients.

“Our proprietary formulas with advanced nanoscience separate us from other shampoo companies,” Fang said. “While we do add herbal extracts and vitamins to promote secondary benefits, our core ingredient, volcanic minerals, are proven effective on coat and skin cleaning, as well as eliminating odor-causing bacteria rather than merely masking it like others.”

The company’s best-selling products include Reliq Lavender and Rosemary Mineral SPA shampoo.

Sometimes formulations can incorporate a mix of natural and synthetic ingredients.

Lonnie Schwimmer at Nootie pointed out that the term “natural” has been misused enough that many of his customers overlook that claim.

“We make products with natural ingredients,” he said. “They are not ‘all natural.’ We use natural ingredients wherever possible. Sometimes to get the best results, you must use a synthetic ingredient to ensure we get the best results out of our products. It’s the results after using our products that consumers see a difference.”

And, according to Schwimmer, that approach serves his brand.

“All of our products sell extremely well,” he said. “What is most unique about Nootie products is our Daily Spritz. Stores seemed to be amazed that they sell so many of them. That is because they are not a cologne. They actually improve the skin and coat.”

Jeff Fowler, national sales manager at Natural Chemistry, pointed out that customers aren’t just demanding natural products; they’re demanding natural products that are effective.

“Natural Chemistry Oatmeal and Chamomile shampoo/conditioner are two of our best-sellers,” Fowler said. “The oatmeal moisturizes and conditions dry skin and the coat. The chamomile in the product soothes and calms irritated skin. The formula is pH-balanced, paraben free and biodegradable.”

The brand’s lavender shampoo is also a popular product that helps soothe and calm dogs during the bath.

Fowler predicts that the natural-grooming segment will expand.

“The category will continue to grow and sales of true natural products that work will be the drivers behind the growth of the category,” he said. “We continue to look at the category and work to formulate new and exciting products to help our retail partners sell more product.”

Burt’s Bees Natural Pet Care products sell well, according to Shweky, specifically the Oatmeal Shampoo and Conditioner, the Hot Spot Spray and the Ear Cleaning Solution.

“These products provide high-quality solutions to common conditions in dogs,” he said. “Customers seeking out natural pet products have high expectations and want detailed information.”

The brand is releasing an array of new products, including five new dog grooming products: Hypoallergenic Wipes, Whitening Shampoo, Detangling Spray and Tearless Puppy Waterless Shampoo Spray, and Tearless Wipes. And they’re debuting Burt’s Bees for Cats, which is made up of five items: Anti Hairball Spray, Hypoallergenic Shampoo, Hypoallergenic Wipes, Waterless Spray Shampoo and Dander Reducing Spray.

The Safety Factor

Planet Dog’s Brand Ambassador Kristen Smith said that all-natural grooming products are an important step toward keeping pets and their families safe because the products don’t contain harsh chemicals.

“All of our groom products are all derived from coconut and coconut oils to keep dogs’ coats soft, clean and fresh,” she said. “Our line includes four options, with our popular options being the Puppy-Safe Oatmeal 2-in-1 Shampoo, a conditioning formula made with oatmeal and almond extract for a gentle but thorough cleaning that leaves a soft and shiny coat; and the Puppy-Safe Healing Shampoo, which is pH balanced with coconut oil and eucalyptus to calm the itch and soothe the skin of dogs with skin issues or sensitivities.”

The brand’s best-selling grooming product is the  Puppy-Safe Waterless 2-in-1 Shampoo. This conditioning formula is formulated with a blend of natural ingredients that soothe the skin and freshen the coat without water. This formula is meant to be sprayed onto the coat, rubbed or brushed in and toweled off, making it great for dogs on the go, cats, ferrets, puppies or any dog who gets stressed by a water bath.

According to Smith, natural products are becoming more pervasive in the industry, so it makes sense that the grooming category will grow.

“With the trend towards more natural products in every pet category, we anticipate that the natural grooming category will continue to grow and strengthen,” she said. “Consumers are being more careful with cleansers for their human family members, and that commitment to all-natural ingredients will extend to pet grooming products as well.”

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