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January 5, 2015

“I walked up to her and asked why she was buying the product she chose,” he said. “She basically said it’s affordable and what she always buys. I pointed out the Eco-Bedding made by Fibercore, and told her it was made from recycled raw materials, making it better for the environment and better for the pets than the brand she was holding. I also told her our packaging is done by more than 150 disabled adults from Deepwood Industries in Mentor, Ohio. Her daughter started tugging at her sleeve and said, ‘Buy that one mom, it’s better.’”

This is just one story but the same scenario is happening in stores every day.

The millennials, people between the ages of 12 and 33, are more socially conscious than previous generations. According to a study conducted by TBWA Worldwide and Take Part, four out of five millennials would be more likely to make a purchase from a company that supports a cause they care about.

According to the 2014 American Pet Products Association Pet Owners Survey, 56 percent of small pet owners have young children, generally placing them in the millennials’ age group and that makes social consciousness an important issue for pet retailers looking to cater to small pet owners.

What better product line to emphasize social consciousness than bedding? It’s something that almost every small pet needs and because it’s used and thrown away, people are not only making regular purchases, they’re looking for something they don’t feel guilty about when they put it in the trash.

Most bedding is made from biodegradable products so it won’t take up space in our landfills. But today, more and more bedding and litter products are also being made from recycled materials. A few include Premier Pet from American Wood Fibers, made from carbon-neutral wood, Fibercore’s Eco-Bedding made from recycled raw materials and BPV Environmental’s Fresh News and Sunseed’s Fresh World, both made from recycled paper from the Paper Gator program. Paper Gator allows non-profits to recycle their newspapers and magazines, paying them a small amount based on weight.

“Not only is our product biodegradable and environmentally friendly because it’s made from recycled paper, by using Paper Gator we’re helping churches, schools and other nonprofit agencies make a little money, so it’s a win, win, win situation,” said Lisa Kniceley, marketing and trade sales specialist, Vitakraft Sunseed.

The Convenience Factor

Today’s customers might be inclined to buy products from socially conscious manufacturers, but convenience also ranks high on the list of priorities. A new product from Kaytee, the CritterTrail Bedding Tray, makes cage cleaning quick and easy. Pre-loaded with Clean & Cozy bedding, customers just place this tray in their pet’s cage and when it’s time to clean, they remove the tray, throw the whole thing in the recycle bin and then put in a new one.

The crinkly ECO-Bedding from Vitakraft or Eco-Bedding from Fibercore is pretty convenient too. Its unique shape allows for pulling out only the soiled material, so cages can be spot-cleaned and pet owners can go longer between full cleanings.

Comfort and Fun

“Pet owners want their pets to be comfortable and many people equate comfort with softness,” said Lucas Stock, communications manager for Oxbow Animal Health. “For this reason we encourage retailers to make bedding samples available for customers to touch and feel. We recently launched a new bedding product, Pure Comfort, made from pure, never-printed-on paper, which results in a product that is ultra-soft, as well as highly odor and moisture absorbent and 99.9 percent dust free.”

A new product line from Carefresh also has the pets’ comfort in mind. Carefresh Custom is made up of two products, each species specific. The one designed for mice, hamsters and gerbils is made up of smaller pieces that makes it easier for burrowing, while the one created for rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas has larger pieces that pile nicely into a small bed for these animals that nest on top of their bedding.

Specialize for Greater Sales

Bedding is a necessity for small pet owners. Unfortunately, most pet owners are making these purchases at discount stores and pet chains and superstores.
According to the latest APPA survey, only 11 percent of small pet owners reported buying bedding at an independent retailer. One way to grow sales of this staple is to differentiate your store with brands that customers can only find at independent stores, such as BPV Environmental’s Fresh News or American Wood Fibers’ Premier Pet.

Another way to improve sales is to use the products in your store. If customers see you using a product with your own store’s animals, they will equate that with a brand they can also trust. Enhance that relationship with a new-pet kit that includes bedding, to help customers think of your store first when they need to purchase bedding for their pets.

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