Part three in our series of blog posts on making the most of the waiting room sales opportunity in your practice.
#1 Chews & treats
Unquestionably, pet treats reign supreme as the top-selling category in retail sales. According to Euromonitor International’s Dog Food in the United Kingdom report 2023, sales of dog treats alone grew by 6% in 2022 to a value of £693 million and there is every indication that this demand is only set to increase. Dogs may take the lead, but there’s also a substantial demand for cat treats too.
Research carried out for the PDSA’s 2023 PAW Report on Animal Welfare, shows that pet treats are as popular with owners as they are with their furry friends. Many owners believe that treats can help them to develop a relationship with their pets, using them for training purposes, but also to make their pet happy, to distract them or to occupy them when they are not at home. However, the most relevant statistic is that 32% of dog owners choose their dog’s food by taking advice from their vet or vet nurse. Cat owners are slightly less likely to ask for a recommendation, but almost a quarter of those surveyed still would.
As with the human snack market, it’s no longer enough for a pet treat to just taste good. Pet owners are also now seeking products that are all-natural, healthy or have added functional benefits. Whether that’s ingredients to promote a healthy coat, support digestion, reduce tartar build-up, support immunity or promote calming.
The other functional aspect of treats is that they can offer an effective way to disguise pills or medication. Pill treats offer an easy solution to the frequently asked question ‘How do I get my pet to take pills?’ and are one of the top-selling types of treats across both cats and dogs.
Your practice is perfectly positioned to offer a premium range of treats that can be recommended for the health and well being of pets and to aid with pill taking, training and behavioural needs. Whilst also taking advantage of the big potential for impulse purchases after a stressful consultation.
#2 Cat litter & trays
With a staggering 11 million pet cats in the UK, it’s no surprise that cat litter and trays are one of the most essential items to stock. The UK cat litter market is worth £190 million in 2023, driven by a steady growth in the population of pet cats and the increase in multi-cat households (40% of cat owners, own more than one cat).
Overall, cat owners are looking for products that meet their priorities of effective odour control, quick clumping, easy-clean properties and providing a long shelf-life. Whilst properties such as clumping or non-clumping can be down to personal preference, cost or even what their pets prefer.
Wood and paper are becoming increasingly popular ingredient types because they’re a more natural and environmentally friendly option. Paper options are usually made from recycled materials and both wood and paper choices are biodegradable.
Toys consistently rank amongst the top three selling categories for a reason: they are essential products that greatly enhance the lives of pets. They can help to satisfy their instinctual needs, offering an outlet for their natural behaviours and keeping them mentally and physically stimulated, promoting their overall health and happiness.
For dogs, a premium range of toys should include engaging items like fetch balls and rope toys for interactive play sessions, strengthening the bond between clients and their canine companions. Conversely, consider including interactive toys such as treat-dispensing and puzzle toys which challenge dogs mentally and provide stimulation when owners are away from home. Additionally, stuffed toys can provide comfort and companionship, especially for anxious or recovering dogs, whilst durable chew toys made from safe materials satisfy chewing instincts and promote dental health.
A well-curated range of cat toys should focus on satisfying their natural instincts, such as scratching, chasing or hunting behaviour. In addition to scratchers, wands, teasers and chase toys, hiding toys, tunnels, or boxes can provide cats with a safe space to hide and offer mental stimulation and entertainment. Additionally, puzzle toys challenge cats’ intelligence and keep them engaged, providing mental exercise, whilst catnip toys are classics that induce euphoria in cats, making them playful and joyful.
#4 Behaviour & training
The PDSA’s 2023 PAW Report on Animal Welfare highlights behavioural issues as a serious welfare concern for UK dogs, with 60% of surveyed vet professionals witnessing an increase in dog behavioural issues in the last two years.
These concerns are a direct consequence of lifestyle changes resulting from the pandemic, particularly in two main areas: separation-related issues and a lack of socialisation opportunities. As a result, more dogs are exhibiting behaviours such as growling, snapping, biting, or displaying signs of fear.
Stocking a range of proven and effective behavioural products that can be recommended to your clients can help to alleviate some of the distress that can be caused by these behaviours. Key products like Thunder Shirts or Pet Remedy can provide much-needed comfort for pets during stressful situations.
Dental products represent a key growth area, driven by the increasing awareness of pet dental hygiene and the need for treatments & products that help support good dental health. There’s an additional opportunity here in that products can be recommended as part of dental checkups.
Basics, such as dental kits, toothbrushes, and toothpaste are great for pet owners who are able to get their pets into a regular routine of brushing. For pets that resist brushing or need comprehensive care, stock a range of dental powder, chews, wipes, rinses, and sprays designed to prevent plaque build-up, remove tartar, and keep breath fresh.
When most people think about pet grooming, they conjure up images of bows, brushes, and running after their pets. However, as you know, grooming is an important aspect of a pet’s overall well-being and health and can also provide the opportunity for your clients to look really closely at their pet’s coat and skin and keep an eye out for any unwanted visitors.
Essential grooming supplies to stock for your clients include high-quality shampoos and conditioners suitable for different coat types and addressing specific concerns such as sensitive skin or allergies. Good quality brushing and combing tools are vital for maintaining healthy coats and preventing matting, whilst nail clippers and grooming wipes can address specific grooming challenges.
#7 Leads & collars
A stylish range of collars and leads can capture the attention of clients looking to pamper their pets after a stressful consultation or in need of a larger option for their growing kitten or puppy.
However, functionality is just as essential, helping your clients to provide controlled safe exercise for their pets. A range of muzzles, slip leads, harnesses and other training products can offer solutions for all types and sizes of pets and help with behavioural issues such as lead pulling and recall.
#8 Seasonal products
As pet owners consider their furry friends part of the family, it’s no surprise that 40% of pet owners would spend as much on their pets during special events (like Christmas or their birthday) as they would on a friend. Embrace this sentiment by offering a fun and appealing range of Christmas-themed gifts and treats to engage your clients and boost retail sales.
It doesn’t just have to be Christmas though, dedicating a section of your waiting room sales to seasonal products, including relevant spring, summer, travel and winter health products will provide your clients with new and relevant products throughout the year.
In need of some more support and guidance? Contact your NVS Group Territory Manager who can recommend the best-selling pet retail products for your practice and provide a pricing toolkit making it quick and easy to decide your retail pricing.
Find out more in our blog post series:
The article was originally posted in The Cube magazine, October 2023 issue. Click here to read the magazine.