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Pet Product News Features Natura Petz - Do the Supplement Addition

Do the Addition of Supplements

A burgeoning pet supplements category means retailers must focus on product knowledge and create savvy displays to boost sales of these products.

Pet Product News Features Additions of Supplements with Natura Petz Organics

BY HILARY DANINHIRSCH - Published: 2016.08.15 05:30 AM

Consumers wishing to maximize their pets’ health sometimes turn to supplements for joint, digestive, dental, skin and other issues. Merchandising these products requires a combination of creative displays and expertise about the products’ attributes, which is especially important given how many new supplements are released each year.

K-10+ of New York’s most recent addition is Advanced Chewable Formulas for Dogs, designed with yogurt and the company’s patent-pending mini dissolving strips, which provide extra vitamin and mineral support, said Ryan Holden Singer, founder.

Nutri-Vet Wellness of St. Louis has a large inventory of animal wellness products, the latest of which is its grain-free natural Soft Biscuits for Dogs, available in Pet-Ease, Hip & Joint and Skin & Coat formulas, said Steve Twohig, vice president.

Fidobiotics in Ogden, Utah, added Immuno Boosto to its line of dog probiotics, and now, Good Guts comes in Lil Mutts, Medium Mutts and Big Mutts sizes, said Mika Wheelwright, co-owner.

At this year’s Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Fla., Natura Petz Organics of Minneapolis, which uses more than 200 organic plant and marine ingredients in its adaptogen-based products, launched nine flavored Meal Toppers for dogs and cats, which can be sprinkled on top of food to address issues such as joint support, allergies and urinary tract infections, said Heidi L. Nevala, president. The company also plans to launch more varieties of its PawR line as well as veterinary-formulated food options for raw and home preparers. 

Set Supplements Apart

Supplements should have their own section within a store, and they should be easy to navigate, agreed retailers and manufacturers.

Retailers can make the supplements section simple to shop by providing short, concise information and by delineating products by specific health concerns, which mimics how drugstores arrange products, said Steve Twohig, vice president of Nutri-Vet Wellness in St. Louis.

“Numerous consumer research has shown the supplement category has a high percentage of shoppers who come down the aisle but do not purchase anything due to being overwhelmed,” he said. “It needs to be an easy and comfortable shopping experience.”

The supplements category can be a challenging one for retailers to merchandise, said Rick Witte, vice president of sales, pet channel for Vital Planet in Palm Harbor, Fla.

“Consumers shop based on the condition or set of symptoms their pet is facing,” Witte said. “Be sure you make it easy for them by planning your set this way.”

With supplement displays, clear and understandable messaging is important.

Probiotics is an area that is just starting to be understood, said Mika Wheelwright, co-owner of Fidobiotics in Ogden, Utah, and categorization should be kept fairly simple. 

“The supplement section needs to be categorized; supplements are not all the same,” Wheelwright said. “To classify all of my products into the same section of ‘digestion’ usually leaves the customer feeling confused; thus, if the retailer positions the product in the different health sections, they get a better sell-through.” 

Grouping supplements by function works for many retailers, said Ryan Holden Singer, founder of New York-based K-10+. Brand blocking the K-10+ line works well, too, because of its strong shelf appeal, he said. 

Another method, he said, is “…offering like products with clear signage calling out the specific need of the consumer. Displays and floor stand-type POP materials are also important, as these can provide extra space for messaging and education for the customer.”

Heidi L. Nevala, president of Natura Petz Organics in Minneapolis, noted that retailers have many options for display: “They can separate by theme (seasonal, holiday), by condition (allergies, joints, stones, urinary tract infections), by brand, by quality (natural, organic, locally sourced), and they can spotlight supplements by events such as seminars.”

“We have a large built-in bookshelf full of all of our supplements, and we categorize them by issue/ailment,” said Heather Nichols, owner of The Puppy Pantry in Georgia. “Categories include hip and joint, dental, digestive, senior care, flea and tick, and more.”

Consumers wishing to maximize their pets’ health sometimes turn to supplements for joint, digestive, dental, skin and other issues. Merchandising these products requires a combination of creative displays and expertise about the products’ attributes, which is especially important given how many new supplements are released each year.

Make Supplement Displays Neat, Creative

With supplement displays, clear and understandable messaging is important.

Simple and informative messaging drives sales, said Steve Twohig, vice president of Nutri-Vet Wellness in St. Louis. 

“Reduce the amount of product in a display and increase information; information makes for an educated consumer, which translates to selling more product in the long run,” he said.

Signage and literature are a must, said Heather Moran, owner of The Doggie Bag in Lakeland, Fla., and she prefers a full display. 

“Ones and twos of products don’t make for a good display,” Moran added. “Customers are more likely to make a purchase when the display is full. Dedicated space is another must.”

The Doggie Bag’s supplements are displayed on round tiers in the center of the shop in a high traffic area, she said.

“We have found that concise but clear messaging is very important,” said Kelly Allday, marketing director for LubriSynHA, a brand of Halstrum LLC, in Simpsonville, Ky. “It is vital for consumers to know exactly what you want them to in the shortest amount of time. Supplements have become a very saturated market, and the best way to reach people is to stand out as much as possible.”

Gary Albert, owner of Ruff Life Pet Outfitters in Petoskey, Mich., carries a lot of Herbsmith products.

“I bought the display from Herbsmith and then custom fit that into my current wall shelves, thereby creating its own little niche,” he said.

At The Puppy Pantry, which has stores in Georgia, owner Heather Nichols uses crates, baskets and bookcases to showcase supplements, along with signage.

Supplements should be in a highly visible, high traffic area, said Ryan Holden Singer, founder of K-10+ in New York.

“This is because, in many cases, the supplement sections can be small and often overlooked by the consumers,” he said. “The amount of pet owners using supplements is low, although growing, and customers need to be made aware they exist.”

“I recommend eye-level shelf space for supplements as well as grouping them near the food section,” Heidi L. Nevala, president of Natura Petz Organics in Minneapolis. “Pet parents who buy premium foods are already conscious of quality, likely acknowledge that diet alone does not supply all necessary nutrients, and are looking for healthful additions to round out and balance their pets’ diets and wellness needs.”

Getting consumers’ attention while they’re shopping for food—the most-purchased pet item—is vital, agreed Rick Witte, vice president of sales, pet channel for Vital Planet in Palm Harbor, Fla.

“Use signage, shelf-talkers or other ‘pointers’ in your food section to point your customer to your supplement section once they’ve made their food selection,” Witte said.

Supplements also can be cross-promoted with grooming products, said Ara Bohchalian, president and CEO of International Veterinary Sciences in Anaheim, Calif.

“The ingredient base for our Lipiderm Healthy Skin and Coat supplement works exceptionally well with our Quick Bath Wipes, because they both contain similar component ingredients that help maintain the overall health of your pet (from the inside out),” he said.

Industry Voices: What do consumers demand when it comes to supplements?
“Consumers want a product that reflects a useful dose of the required key active ingredient. They are looking at products with a greater use of natural ingredients. Cocount oil is becoming a focus. Probiotics remain a growth segment.”—STEVE TWOHIG, vice president of Nutri-Vet Wellness in St. Louis

“Easy to digest, higher absorption rates and ease of delivery are big trends. I also see a trend in owners looking for or asking about the National Animal Supplement Council seal, which our products carry. They are more and more looking for quality and trust products that carry the seal and are made in the USA.”—RYAN HOLDEN SINGER, founder of K-10+ in New York

“More natural alternatives for flea and tick prevention and repellent. Natural alternatives to dental cleanings at the vet (which involves anesthesia) and herbal remedies for various ailments.”—HEATHER NICHOLS, owner of The Puppy Pantry, which has stores in Georgia

“We have seen an increased demand for chondroitin/glucosamine/MSM, pain relief/inflammation, joint support, probiotics, calming, allergy relief and senior cognition products, as well as natural alternatives for flea/tick products that either repel or repel and kill fleas and ticks on contact.”—GARY ALBERT, owner of Ruff Life Pet Outfitters in Petoskey, Mich.

“The biggest consumer demand is needing help with itchy skin. Dogs and cats suffer year-round from environmental allergies in Florida, and finding relief is a top priority for pet parents.”—HEATHER MORAN, owner of The Doggie Bag in Lakeland, Fla.

 Supplement Displays and Educational Materials

Heather Moran, owner of The Doggie Bag in Lakeland, Fla., always asks manufacturers for educational materials and samples.

“Spending $25 on a bag of dental chews isn’t easy to swallow,” she said. “Sending home a free sample allows the customer to ‘taste test’ it with their pet. Now they know the pet likes it and it’s going to clean their teeth; it now becomes money well spent.”

Gary Albert, owner of Ruff Life Pet Outfitters in Petoskey, Mich., incorporates information supplied by manufacturers to educate his customers.

“Due to the small footprint of our store, we stress that the line(s) we carry are not the only ones on the market, and regularly encourage our customers to research products and also encourage them to work with their vet to be certain that what they choose will not harm their pet,” he said.

Some manufacturers offer training classes to retail staff or online educational videos as well as free products, making it easier for knowledge to be handed down to the customer, said Heather Nichols, owner of The Puppy Pantry, which has stores in Georgia.

“We like to provide displays and as much educational material as possible,” said Ryan Holden Singer, founder of K-10+ in New York. “We currently have freestanding three- and four-tier displays that hold each of our product offerings as well as countertop displays. Each display clearly provides key information about our products to help educate the customer.”

“We offer rostrums, gravity feeds, power panels with informational cut ins and color-coded shelf strips/signage,” said Steven Twohig, vice president of Nutri-Vet Wellness in St. Louis.

In addition to a unique endcap, Mika Wheelwright, co-owner of Fidobiotics in Ogden, Utah, offers online quizzes to help educate her customers, as well as training, samples and posters.

Natura Petz Organics of Minneapolis provides educational video and audio files, brochures, banners and in-depth product guides, said Heidi L. Nevala, president.

Vital Planet offers in-store support tools such as newsletters for bag stuffing, full-line consumer catalogs, shelf-talkers, coupons, samples and off-shelf merchandising options, said Rick Witte, vice president of sales, pet channel for the Palm Harbor, Fla., company.

With some help from manufacturers, retailers can provide free weekly pet health classes to educate consumers on the benefits of the supplements they sell, said Ara Bohchalian, president and CEO of International Veterinary Sciences in Anaheim, Calif.

“Not all supplements that claim to support a healthful lifestyle are the same—there are significant differences in formulation and ingredient weight—helping identify those distinctions and educating the consumer will organically increase sales for retailers,” he said. 

This article originally appeared in the August 2016 issue of Pet Product News.

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