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May 2, 2017

Eye care is a cross-over category. Products within eye care, whether at the salon or on the retail shelves, must meet the needs of both the health care sector and the casual pet owner. Tear stains, along with an increase in allergies among the pet dog population, mean big sales in the eye care category.

A large percentage of customers seek products for easy at-home maintenance and preventative healthcare.

“Consumers are looking for something all natural with no antibiotics; they don’t want their pets to get sick,” said Catherine Burns, CEO of Naturally Tearfree Canine, LLC. “We give them not only all natural by having no antibiotics, fillers, additives or food coloring, but also 100 percent organic herbs. [Retailers] want to know it works. We show them before and after pictures [of the results] that our customers took themselves and sent to us. I also use it on my own dog. We have been on the market for eight years and do a lot of the grooming shows across the United States.”

Match Product to Pet
Retailers need to understand their customers’ needs and the individual products to make the sale. At Naturally Tearfree Canine, the brand uses herbs deemed “safe for pets” by the FDA.

“We took the extra step to ensure that our pets were safe,” Burns said.

The company’s products are patented, made in the USA and are free from antibiotics like Tylosin, fillers or additives.

“You only get what you need,” she said. “One herb is an anti-inflammatory for allergies, the other herb is an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial for tear, muzzle and body staining.”

Burns says her product isn’t intended to be given every day like other brands, which makes it easier to use and cost less than competitors’ products.
In the store or salon, Burns recommends that retailers display the flyer the company provides that shows the “before and after” pictures collected from customers.

“We supply each [individual] jar with a tri-fold brochure that has a lot of information the customer wants,” she said.

Another bestselling brand is Angels’ Eyes. Its product line can offer a retailer an expansive range of options for eye care needs—from anti-tear products with natural ingredients to wipes and professional grooming products.

Customers who are looking for a natural solution to meet both health and aesthetic needs have two options from Burt’s Bees. The brand’s Eye Wash with Saline Solution can be used to gently flush debris inside the eye, while the Tear Stain Remover with Chamomile cleans up the gunky particles that build up to cause tear stains.

For many dog owners—especially those whose dogs dislike grooming tasks like having their eyes cleaned—a convenient wipe provides an appealing solution.
All-purpose grooming wipes provide a simple solution for the customer looking to save money. A single product with several uses, PL360’s Grooming Wipes are safe enough to use around the eye but can also be used to clean muddy paws.

Earthbath Eye Wipes for Dogs & Cats are hypoallergenic, fragrance-free wipes that work for dogs who suffer from allergies or sensitive skin. The wipes are gentle enough to clean dirt and debris without causing irritation. Likewise, TrueBlue Pet Products states that TrueBlue Safe and Sure Eye Wipes contain no detergents, parabens, phosphates or alcohol.

Grooming Needs
Many at-home groomers need a range of professional tools, like fine-toothed combs and blunt-edged scissors, to keep pets’ eyes free from hair that can scratch the cornea. Some of the most popular options include the Miracle Coat Four-Inch Ball Tip Grooming Shear and the ConairPRO Dog Rounded-Tip Shear. For most at-home groomers, especially those who are new to the task, guidance from sales staff will help them select the correct implement—and learn how to use it safely for their dog’s breed.

Whether it’s a convenience product like a wipe or a blunt-tipped scissor, eye care is a specialized category. Counseling customers to choose the correct product can prevent frustration in the owner and injury to the dog.

Retailers should be prepared to refer a customer to a veterinarian if the dog presents with eye discharge or injury, or a groomer if the customer isn’t comfortable handling trimming or cleaning on his or her own.

Regardless of need, the demand for safe, effective and, increasingly, natural solutions drives sales. Pet stores should offer an array of solutions—from safe, effective eye wash products to tear stain removers, trimmers and wipes—to find something to fit every need and should consider these educational opportunities as a chance to build a rapport with the customer to gain loyalty. Since eye care is a consumable, finding the right fit for the right customer enables repeat sales.

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