It’s well known that there’s been a sizeable increase in pet ownership in the United States, and with more people working from home, they are presented with an abundance of time to interact and play with their pets. That also means a stronger desire to spoil these companion animals. With the upcoming fall and winter holiday seasons, fast approaching, pet retailers are gearing up for customers who are looking to shower their fur babies with gifts.
Pet Palette Distribution, a Maryland-based national distributor of premium pet products, recently launched its Fall and Winter Holiday Prebook events, which will feature more than 20 top brands. Several are exclusive to Pet Palette Distribution this year, including Outward Hound, Planet Dog, FuzzYard and Haute Diggity Dog. Both assortments will feature more cat products and seasonal treats than previous years, as well as apparel, accessories and one of the largest toy selections in the pet industry.
Although pet parents are obviously gifting their companion animals for a variety of reasons throughout the year, including birthday, “gotcha” day and for just being special, the upcoming months are sure to be a time for retailers to take advantage of the increased interest in holiday-oriented products. To support this belief, Pet Palette Distribution points to the 2021-2022 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, which reported that up to 80 percent of pet owners purchase gifts for their pets, with the most common occasion for dog and cat owners to buy pet gifts is Christmas. It is expected that these numbers will continue to grow exponentially as Millennials and Gen Z continue to further dominate the marketspace.
The amount spent per household ranges greatly, which means no gift is too big or too small for pet owners to treat their furry loved ones. That’s why it’s important for retailers to provide products that hit all price points and cater to the diversity of their customers’ spending habits.
“The key is to make festive gifting more accessible to consumers by creating eye catching displays and using budget-conscious products that tell a story and put a smile on their face,” said Pet Palette Distribution senior buyer Megan Hulse. “Shoppers of all ages love to find purse-friendly, Instagram-able items for their pets, to pamper them and show them off to family and friends. The end goal is to give the consumer and their fur-kid an experience that brightens their day.”
“As a distributor, we understand that seasonal merchandise planning can create unique challenges for retailers since product life cycles are measured in weeks or even days,” said Ron Metzger, Pet Palette Distribution CEO. “We strive to create holiday assortments that maximize a retailer’s revenue while minimizing their risk. Our team has done a deep dive on trend forecasting this year so customers don’t have to do the legwork to figure out what is going to sell best, we’ve done that for them.”
Toys, especially those that are interactive, are always popular with pet parents. Savvy retailers are wise to stock their shelves this holiday seasons with SKUs by brands that are able to develop durable toys with a variety of creative designs.
SodaPup, which was recently added to Pet Palette Distribution’s list of offerings, is a brand to consider when it comes to dog toy gifts. SodaPup is a veteran-owned business committed to the revitalization of American manufacturing. Founded by Adam Baker, SodaPup manufactures its line of dog products in the U.S.A. from safe and durable FDA-compliant materials.
Known among pet parents for its dog toys that are made for power chewers, SodaPup utilizes nylon molds to create festive, fun designs. The SodaPup holiday-themed nylon chew toys and rubber treat dispensers include gingerbread men, snowflakes, Christmas trees and snowmen as well as jack o’ lanterns, skulls, zombies and gravestones for Halloween. The brand even has toys in a turkey design for Thanksgiving.
“We have a roasted turkey toy for Thanksgiving,” Baker said. “It’s kind of funny, it’s a roasted turkey. It’s kind of silly, but it’s a great toy that’s 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. The toy is also dishwasher safe and easy to clean.
Not only does SodaPup have one of the largest assortments of holiday-inspired durable chew toys and treat dispensers, but the brand is also constantly adding to the collection, so retailers have lots to choose from and ways to differentiate.
“SodaPup has been very focused on the nascent enrichment category,” Baker explained. “This holiday season, we are introducing an array of new enrichment products that fall into our emat, ecoin, etray and ebowl product types. This includes some exciting seasonal designs for Halloween and Christmas.”
All SodaPup products are made from FDA-compliant materials in the U.S.A. and come with a 30-day replacement guarantee.
For consumers seeking outdoor gear as a holiday gift, such brands as Kurgo, Outward Hound, are reliable for creative, gift-worthy collars, harnesses, leashes and apparel. For pet parents seeking entertaining ID tags, MyFamily has more than 600 styles of Italian made ID tags that come in various shapes styles and finishes. In addition, MyFamily offers collars, leashes and harnesses that are 100 percent Italian-made and are available in a variety of premier-quality materials, including leather, leatherette, polycotton and nylon.
GF Pet, the Canadian brand that crafts apparel and accessories to match the unique style and personality of every companion animal, recently released seasonal products that would make perfect gifts for today’s fashion-savvy pet parent. The Fall/Winter 2022 Collection includes cozy hoodies, denim jackets, heritage sweaters, retro puffers and a recycled parka that comes in striking colors.
“Our design team is inspired by human trends, both for adult and kids,” said Lizzie Selvadurai, customer service manager for GF Pet. “A key point of all our designs is that we are uniquely focused on providing a best-in-class experience for both dogs and dog owners. This is achieved by our feverish attention to detail, aiming for the perfect fit for every dog. Our styles are made to be super easy for the owner to put on and take off, and [the brand’s products] come in a tremendous range of both trendy and classic fashions to choose from. We feel the recipe for a great gift is something that makes for an easy and fun experience and is gorgeous, too.”
If pet parents are seeking a unique apparel for their pets, retailers might want to consider onesies by Shed Defender. According to Tyson Walters, Shed Defender founder and CEO, the brand’s original onesies were designed to keep loose hair contained but also have many other benefits, making them a jack of all trades. Shed Defender has since created the Recovery and Sport onesies, which are designed to help dogs recover after surgery; replacing the common “cone of shame” that leaves dogs anxious during an already difficult time, these leotards safely cover the surgical sites to prevent licking or nipping while still allowing the dog to move comfortably around.
Shed Defender’s line of Sport onesies were modified to allow the dog’s lower belly to be exposed, making the outfits ideal for dogs that are outdoors and on the go; these onesies still contain shedding but are convenient and give owners flexibility when nature calls. Sold in various colors and patterns, these onesies are functional while keeping your dog stylish and adorable. “A dog’s furry coat is supposed to keep them warm, but a Shed Defender onesie offers a little more warmth and protection during the winter. Winter can get messy for the dogs that love to play in the snow. Snow can get clumped up, creating painful snowballs that tug on a dog’s fur; with the Shed Defender onesie, dogs can run and roll around, and owners don’t have to worry about snow or dirt clinging to their dog’s hair,” said Walters. “Also, these onesies are great for winter vacations, keeping cars and cabins hair-free, and ensuring dandruff and allergens are kept to a minimum at family gatherings!”
On the cat side, consumers tend to think about toys that exercise their feline’s natural instincts while also promoting a healthy bond between cat and human. Since launching Vee Enterprises in 1988, Lorie Viner has developed a long line of cat toys that continue to remain innovative, including its PURRfect Wild Hemp line full of colorful feathers and hemp cord designed to capture any kitten’s attention and lure them into hours of chasing, hunting and attacking.
And with cats having an affinity for the smell and texture of leather, Vee designed its PURRfect Leather Bouncer to satisfy these instincts. The best-selling, award-winning product features a 16-inch wand with an all-natural vegetable-tanned leather cord and a faux-fur end with leather tassels that cats can’t resist.
Pet humanization has become a common phrase within the pet care industry as more consumers want to provide their companion animals with human-like products or experiences. This tren is a big part of the cat toys manufactured by DuckyWorld, the maker of Yeowww! Catnip, U.S.-made cat toys stuffed with organically grown catnip.
“For cats who love to grab and bunny kick their toys, the Yeowww! Catnip Chicata Banana is by far a favorite with cats around the world,” said Kris Kaiser, digital marketing specialist for DuckyWorld Products. “It has a cult following of sorts in many cat groups, and you can see the devotion all over social media.”
Other favorites, according to Kaiser, is the brand’s Stinkies Sardines toy, along with the Pineapple and Kitten Mittens, which were launched earlier this year. All Yeowww! Catnip products are made in the United States. And, as with all Yeowww! Catnip products, the brand’s holiday toys are made of durable cotton twill and filled with a special 100 percent organically grown catnip.
There’s no shortage of brands and products for consumers looking for a holiday gift that benefits them as well as their companion animal. One Fur All candles are the perfect holiday gift for the pet lover who enjoys a home that smells wonderful. Available in a wide variety of scents, these products are perfect for freshening up any animal-loving home and vehicle.
One Fur All’s line of candles, wax melts, room sprays and car fresheners are produced in the U.S.A. and contain an effective odor neutralizer to create the freshest environment as you celebrate the festive season with loved ones. They’re also crafted with 100 percent natural, dye-free soy wax and contain absolutely no paraffin/petroleum by-products, making them safe for your furry friend.
Sure Petcare is a brand that has several high-tech cat products designed to fill a need while fitting into a pet parent’s lifestyle and home décor. The FELAQUA CONNECT is a unique water delivery and drinking monitoring system for cats that was designed in collaboration with leading veterinary behaviorists. It allows cat parents to keep track of their cats’ daily water intake via the Sure Petcare app, while the smart water delivery system provides the cat with a source of fresh water.
Each cat within a household is registered to FELAQUA CONNECT via their microchip. FELAQUA CONNECT integrates with the Sure Petcare App via a Hub, which allows the app to “talk” to the device and record each registered cat’s drinking behavior such as which cat drank, what time it drank, and how much it drank. It also provides reports on the cat’s overall drinking patterns on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. With this information, cat parents can easily detect any changes in their cat’s drinking patterns. The Sure Petcare app also sends reminder notifications to refill the reservoir of FELAQUA CONNECT when the water is low, and water freshness reminders to encourage cleaning of the device.
The brand’s SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Connect, for both dogs and cats, monitors the eating behavior of pets. The smart feeder monitors how much and when a pet eats, sending real-time updates directly to the pet parent’s phone. The product also features integrated scales, which enable owners to provide accurate food portions to their pet at every meal. The SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Connect records the time and weight of food consumed by a pet each time they eat from the feeder, reporting it directly to the Sure Petcare app. Over time, this enables pet owners to build a comprehensive understanding of their pet’s unique feeding patterns, making it easier for them to spot changes in their pet’s health and well-being earlier than they may otherwise have been able to do so.
Consumers who enjoy displaying their passion for pets should know the human apparel made by Spoiled Rotten Dogz (SRD), a lifestyle brand geared to dog lovers who “want to represent.” The brand’s product lines feature baseball caps, T-shirts and other items that display witty, inspiring and off-the-wall sayings that connect with pet parents. According to John W. Plausse, founder of Spoiled Rotten Dogz, the idea is to make it fun. This is evident in the brand’s most popular holiday-themed line: Feliz Navidog.
“We carry [Feliz Navidog] in a long sleeve T-shirt as well as a wine bag,” Plausse said. “At SuperZoo, we will be displaying the wine bag with a dog toy that looks like a wine bottle. We do not carry the toys but can refer attendees to vendors who do.”
As a wholesaler, the company is committed to brick-and-mortar small retailers. According to Plausse, his brand’s mission is to provide unique products to boutiques and small retailers that will distinguish them from big box stores and provide a competitive edge.
“We do not sell direct to consumer since we do not want to compete with stores carrying our product,” Plausse said. “Our objective is to establish long-term relationships with stores that allow both parties to flourish.”
The brand was founded on the idea that cool stuff for dog lovers can be exceptional in style and quality. According to Plausse, many consumers have described Spoiled Rotten Dogz as the “Lucky Brand for dog lovers.”
“It’s a flattering comparison that intersects wonderfully with our chill vibe,” he explained.
The brand launches new designs each season, which allows for the store owner to have a constant refresh.
“Our customers love these shirts,” exclaimed Maria Cetrola of Buddy’s Pet Stop in Beach Haven, New Jersey. “We are in a resort area and have carried Spoiled Rotten Dogz gift items and tees for over 10 years. The shirts are a particularly big draw, and the first thing lots of customers do on vacation is come in to find out what’s new so that they can add to their collection. We love all the repeat business. We also appreciate SRD’s commitment to our boutique.”
To generate the strongest connection holiday shoppers, Plausse suggests retailers create displays that bundle multiple products together. For example, a holiday-themed hostess/doggie gift bag could contain a tee and wood sign for the human plus a toy or treats for the companion animal.
Considering that consumers are living busy lives that prevent them from coming up with elaborate gift ideas, demonstrating an attractive gift set will help them with the thought process while also creating a multiple-item sale.
In addition, retailers might want to consider stocking a variety of gift bags, greeting cards and even tissue paper to round out the selection. This can become another profitable endeavor to boost holiday revenue.
“In the end, Spoiled Rotten Dogz is inspired by the sheer joy and abandon by which dogs play,” Plausse concluded. “Whether it’s the single-minded pursuit of a lobbed tennis ball, the fearless soaring leap to intercept a speeding Frisbee or the simple glee of rolling around on a freshly mowed lawn. Our goal is to infuse that sense of playfulness in all the products that we design and sell.”
Retailers would be wise to take advantage of the fall and winter seasons to give holiday products a prominent display area front and center in their stores, while also promoting a variety of these products on their social media platforms. Doing so will help turn casual pet lovers into return consumers who will be purchasing gifts for their pets, themselves and others this holiday season and well into 2023 and beyond.