Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

What’s in Store: Gift Trends in Pet Retail

Dan Calabrese//September 1, 2015//

What’s in Store: Gift Trends in Pet Retail

Dan Calabrese //September 1, 2015//

Listen to this article

The idea of selling gifts in a pet retail setting can make anyone’s head spin. What, after all, classifies an item as a gift? Does it mean a customer would buy the item for someone else, but not for themselves?

Most of the time, we think of gift items as novelty, trinket or throw-in additions to a customer’s main shopping objective. That doesn’t mean they’re low in value. It just means the person buying the item is making a calculation about whether the recipient will actually like or want the item.

In the pet retailing space, it’s easy to appreciate that some items just don’t work as gifts. A dog or cat owner probably doesn’t want to receive a gigantic bag of dry food for their birthday or as a holiday present. The item that works as a gift is one that the recipient probably wouldn’t think to buy for themselves, but that they might nevertheless like and enjoy. As much as anything else, it’s about the recipient being satisfied that the giver did a good job in deciding what the recipient would like.

So what makes for effective gift items and what helps them sell? Here are few things to consider.

Brand Recognition

Branding matters just as much, if not more, when selling gifts compared with selling pet supplies. A person buying a gift item needs something to inspire confidence that the purchase represents some degree of quality. A trusted brand name can often serve as that form of assurance, although that can sometimes also drive up the wholesale price.

Quality Counts

Actual quality isn’t a bad idea either. Generally speaking, people want to give nice gifts. Customers may be cost conscious, but a low-grade piece of plastic that will probably break within two days of being unwrapped is unlikely to please anyone. The appeal of an item like that is that it’s inexpensive and selling it doesn’t present much of a profit opportunity.

Display Strategies

Be smart about display strategies. It’s one thing to put related items near each other if the goal is for the same customer to buy them both. But who is your target audience you want to see buying gift items in your store? Is it the person who’s already in the store buying for their own pets? Or is it someone who might not have pets and is visiting your store on a one-time basis because they need to get a gift for someone who loves pets? If it’s the latter, a section clearly labeled “Gift Items” is the way to go. If it’s the former, it might make more sense to consider placing gift items near more commonly purchased items. Maybe a small plaque with a saying about dogs as best friends goes next to dog toys or flea collars.

Keep Up With the Trends

Research the popular pet-related gifts. If one is unsure about the kinds of gifts people might want to buy for the pet lovers in their lives, i

t’s not a difficult task to obtain the correct research. Obtaining

Wrap It Upat least some basic research information online is simple. Google “pet-related gifts”, and that search engine should turn up a multitude of ideas to comb through. Better yet: Ask vendors. They know what’s selling and they know what retailers are asking for. They can also give guidance on pricing and merchandising, and they might already have ready-made displays that can help get the attention of gift-seeking customers.

Customer service makes a difference and offering gift

wrapping is a simple thing pet retailers can train their employees to do. Make sure they know which items are gift items and train them to ask customers if they’d like the items gift-wrapped. This might be the sort of thing that makes an impression and wins a pet retailer a long-term customer.

Greeting Cards

Think about offering cards, too. Cards go hand-in-hand with gifts, so if someone is going to give a pet-related gift, you might as well make it easy for them to give a pet-related card along with it. If they head off to the Hallmark store after they make their purchase with you, that’s a lost opportunity.

Since a gift item is designed to be given away, you can’t bank on the emotional attachment between the buyer and the item. If you can make the buyer feel good about giving the item away, in addition to making it as easy as possible to buy, you’ve got a remarkable strategy for selling gifts in the pet retailing environment.