Consumers Expect More From Pet Toys | Tendencies

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Pet owners are starting to expect more from the toys they buy for their furry companions, and manufacturers are delivering them. The most successful retailers in this category are those who offer their customers unique and varied options.

Pet owners are looking for more engaging and interactive toys, said Leah Angelos, sales manager for ZippyPaws, a manufacturer of dog toys and accessories based in Chino, Calif.

“While dog toys are still good sellers, there is growing interest in toys that offer stimulation through critical thinking and respond to the bond between animal and owner,” Angelos said. “For example, our Zippy Burrows have been successful because they are interactive and help create bonding opportunities throughout recess.”

Adam Baker, founder and CEO of True Dogs, the Boulder, Colorado-based SodaPup toy maker, said there has long been a “sea of ​​similarity” when it comes to pet toys. Retail assortments often look the same every time a consumer walks into the store, and most stores carry the same brands and SKUs. But Baker said that was starting to change.

“Against this background, we are seeing the rise of more and more subscription boxes, most of which contain two to three new toys every month,” he said. “These boxes are often themed, and the fun, quirky designs surprise and delight consumers in ways traditional retail doesn’t.”

Baker said subscription boxes pose a legitimate threat to toy sales in physical stores, and that this demonstrates the importance for the independent pet supplies retailer to increase the bet on its products. toy offers. It also shows that consumers actually want unique options.

Aaron Lowe, director of marketing and brand development for Only An Ocean / Poochie-Pets, which is headquartered in the United States in Charleston, South Carolina, said that the high-quality and well-made toys from interesting brands must start to take precedence in stores over poorly made, cheap toys.

“For example, our new brand partner, Beco, makes fun and cuddly toys that are also very intended to be durable, with double stitching, double layering and more,” Lowe said. “Details are, in fact, important to many pet parents. Plus, their toys are made from environmentally friendly materials, and in today’s market, have a sort of mission beyond just making toys is noticed and appreciated by customers as well. “

Many retailers have noted that in the cat toy market not much has changed. Anything with catnip will always be popular with cats, said Sherry Redwine, co-owner of Odyssey Pets, a Dallas pet store.

Kim McCohan, head of happiness at Bend Pet Express, which has stores in Bend, Ore., Said toys with realistic fur are still the best sellers for cat owners, something that hasn’t changed with the weather.

“We have a display of bulk cat toys made in the United States that is very popular,” said McCohan. “We haven’t made any changes because it has stood the test of time.”

Samantha Henson, clinical pet nutritionist at Next Generation Pet Wellness in Detroit, said cats tend to have a favorite type of toy and owners rightly don’t want to deviate from it.

“Cats are picky, and their owners know it,” said Henson, who owns a consulting business but has also worked in retail stores. “The only time of year that retailers might want to change anything with cat toy sales is during kitten season, when new kitten owners go to buy toys for the first time. time to put the spotlight on the choices. ”

April through October is generally considered kitten season, but it depends on where you live, Henson added.

Follow design inspiration

While pet owners are certainly looking for toys that their pets will love to play with, retailers should always grab their attention with attractive displays.

Mary Morgan, director of marketing and communications at HuggleHounds, a division of Allure Pet Products based in Denville, NJ, said there is no doubt that today’s pet owners are more up to date. listening to style and design. The trends the HuggleHounds team are noticing include lots of bright colors, which is why the company recently launched the Wild Things Knotties collection featuring a sloth, anteater and llama in hues such as aqua and hot pink.

Morgan said the HuggleHounds brand is inspired by trends in general – not only in the pet market, but also in fashion, housewares and more. The team comes together and discusses these trends while creating the company’s latest toy concepts.

Jen Glaser, co-founder and designer of ZippyPaws, said her inspiration for toy design comes from many different sources.

“Sometimes I design a new toy based on a squeaker, and sometimes I design it based on a shape or a character,” she said. “Having a wide variety of fabric samples in my office also helps me select materials when designing toys. For example, when I wanted to create a line of dog toys inspired by alcoholic drinks, I knew that instead of making them with stuffing I wanted to use the squeaky water bottles that I offer in my Bottle Crusherz line. The new Happy Hour Crusherz line was thus born!

Baker said his company often designed toys around themes.

“Our Industrial Dog brand is inspired by a toolbox and includes designs such as gears, saw blades, pipe wrenches, shovels, wire clamps, wheel nuts and compression gaskets. , just to name a few things, ”Baker said. “Our SodaPup brand was inspired by junk food. Our Spotnik brand is inspired by dogs in space. We also design around seasonal themes such as ‘summer food’, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day and more so, giving retailers a chance to “strike quickly.” Opportunities. ”

Optimization of the assortment

Offer the right mix of toys

Having the right assortment of toys is essential for generating successful sales in this category.

Leah Angelos, director of sales for ZippyPaws, a manufacturer of dog toys and accessories based in Chino, Calif., Said retailers should understand their consumers’ preferences and offer products that cover a wide range of behaviors.

“There is a wide variety of products available in the market, and it is important to bring things that will not only appeal to the customer, but also benefit their furry companions,” said Angelos.

Aaron Lowe, director of marketing and brand development for Only An Ocean / Poochie-Pets, which is headquartered in the United States in Charleston, South Carolina, said retailers need to consider the different needs. pets.

“Retailers need throw and squeak toys to stimulate prey hunting,” he said. “Interactive toys for dogs who only like to play with their owners, like tugs and throwing toys, are also prominent in a range of stores. Older and very young dogs may need softer toys due to dental issues. Don’t forget to stimulate the customer as well, with smell, color and texture. ”

Kim McCohan, Head of Happiness at Bend Pet Express, which has stores in Bend, Ore., Said creating breed-specific displays can be a great way to ensure very specific toy needs are met. . For example, she said that a display for German shorthair pointers would include hunting and training toys, plush toys with bird patterns, hunting or training whistles, chew toys. medium size, puzzle toys and more.

“In our store we did a small dog display for a while that had all of the most popular ‘small dog items’ in it, and it was a hit,” she said. “Owners of small dogs were grateful to find toys or chews they didn’t know about.”

New products

Recent in-game introductions

Manufacturers know that consumers are always looking for something new and they are working to meet this demand by bringing a variety of new toys to market.

Adam Baker, founder and CEO of True Dogs, the Boulder, Colorado-based SodaPup toy maker, said that on average, the company develops two new toys per month.

“We’re working on new Spotnik toys for March,” he said, referring to the company’s space-themed collection. “We have also just launched three new models in our Industrial Dog collection.”

The Cap Nut is an ultra-durable chew toy that also has a small amount of treats inside. The industrial dog bone is inspired by a compression joint, which is a plumbing product. The product is both a chew toy and a treat dispenser. The Double Trouble durable chew toy and treat dispenser is inspired by a truck suspension piece, Baker said.

At the time of going to press, Mary Morgan, director of marketing and communications at HuggleHounds, a division of Allure Pet Products, based in Denville, New Jersey, said the brand plans to present a Swanky Swans line at Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Florida in February. Careful attention has been paid to every design detail of the plush swans, and they feature embellishments such as gold crowns and metal feet.


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