Real dogs love their stuffed animals as much as human children. While durable toys are always in demand, plush toys are also very popular, along with interactive toys.
Petmate has partnered with Miranda Lambert’s MuttNation to launch the MuttNation Treat Guitar, Rescue Mutts plush toys and faux suede animals this summer. As part of another partnership, the Arlington, Texas-based company will also launch WWE Superstar rubber dog toys and chunky tug toys. And for cats, developed with Jackson Galaxy from Animal Planet, new toys include the Air Prey Wand and the Vault Marinater. The company also plans to expand its Chuckit and Hol-ee toy lines.
Emerald Pet Products recently launched a new line of durable plush dog toys called Snug n ‘Tug Toys. They are lined with double seams.
âAll of our characters are barnyard themed, which makes them very popular with farm and feed stores,â said Glenn Novotny, vice president of sales and marketing for The Walnut Creek Company, in California.
Cycle Dog-Earth Friendly Pet Co. has expanded its toy line with the launch of Fuzzies: sewn-on soft toys that are environmentally friendly, said Lanette Fidrych, founder and president of the Portland, Oregon company.
âAs a sewn-in toy, the pattern pieces are stuffed inside the toy with the Ecofill, creating a zero waste product,â she said, adding that it was gentle on teeth and gums. dogs.
Fluff & Tuff launches around 10 new styles of its super plush dog toys each season.
âWe do this to help our retailers keep their displays fresh and interesting to their loyal customers,â said Ellen Lawson, founder and president of the Troy, Michigan company.
Caitec Corp. in Baltimore just launched four new interactive dog toys: the Giggle Treat Ball, Gumball, Handle Ball and Solid Tennis Ball.
Joe’s Pet Depot in Rock Springs, Wyo., Sells a wide variety of Kong products, including the Kong Cruncheez Barnyard line, which makes a cracking rather than squealing sound, as well as new Durasoft toys, which are made from bi-material materials. – materials for various textures, bounces and squeaks, said owner Joe Seneshale.
âInteractiveâ is the buzzword, especially with toys that don’t require owner involvement, said Megan Davis, manager of Paws Applause in Scarborough, Maine, and Toni Shelaske, owner of Healthy Pet Products in Pittsburgh. .
âFor cats, owners buy toys that attach to doorknobs or that run on a motor,â Davis said.
For feathered friends, Greenfeather Bird Supply has launched the UpCycle series of rewarding bird toys using recyclable wood part materials, making it a “whimsical beak appeal,” said Dena Tucker, owner of the company. West Hartford, Connecticut.
With the fascinating variety of toys on the market, retailers can find some pretty creative ways to display their inventory.
âSomething eye-catching and different to do is color blocking,â said Toni Shelaske, owner of Healthy Pet Products in Pittsburgh. “This technique allows you to display different categories together by color.”
Pay attention to placement, especially when it comes to dog toys, said Megan Davis, manager of Paws Applause in Scarborough, Maine, who advises keeping toys at least 12 inches above the ground.
âDogs love to mark, and damaged merchandise cannot be sold or returned,â she said.
âWe use tip displays to showcase new items, seasonal items, sale items, or high-movement items,â said Joe Seneshale, owner of Joe’s Pet Depot in Rock Springs, Wyo. “We change these tips every month to expose our customers to many different products.”
âWe prefer our everyday collections to be complemented with a rotating / seasonal theme, which allows us to keep things new and fresh without committing to too many SKUs at once,â said Janene Zakrajsek, owner of Pussy & Pooch Pethouse and Pawbar, which has stores in Southern California. “We market a variety of types of ‘story’ toys, which may include rope, plush, rubber, wool or other toys.”
âWe recommend segmenting by type (rubber or sewn styles) and by manufacturer,â said Lanette Fidrych, founder and president of Cycle Dog-Earth Friendly Pet Co. in Portland, Oregon. “It always helps to create separate areas by business to help tell a story.”
Cross-selling by merchandising toys with treats is one way to increase the market basket, said Glenn Novotny, vice president of sales and marketing for Emerald Pet Products in Walnut Creek, Calif.
âA lot of customers get into the habit of buying one category and forgetting to shop in other departments,â he said. âCreating a display of assorted treats and toys gives the store a great opportunity to engage in a conversation with its customer. “
Another effective strategy is to display toys near the cash register for impulse sales, said Davis and Terry Gao, founder of Caitec Corp. in Baltimore.
If a store sells live animals, putting toys in cages is a great way to showcase the products, said Dena Tucker, owner of Greenfeather Bird Supply in West Hartford, Connecticut.
Set toys apart to sell them
Many retailers categorize toys by species, but a myriad of other distinctions can be made within the toy category.
Is the animal a hug? A tugboat?
âMost consumers buy based on how their dog interacts with toys in general,â said Glenn Novotny, vice president of sales and marketing for Emerald Pet Products in Walnut Creek, Calif. “Sustainability merchandising works very well.”
Ellen Lawson, founder and president of Fluff & Tuff in Troy, Michigan, said separating toys by type (chew toys, balls, soft toys, etc.) makes choices easier for the customer.
âWithin those guys keep a brand displayed together,â she said. âIt makes it easier for the customer to find or for an employee to show the customer. It also gives a more cohesive look. “
Healthy Pet Products in Pittsburgh shares a similar philosophy.
“I create a toy department in my stores, and within the department I group them by brand or type,” said owner Toni Shelaske. “Either is totally acceptable in merchandising as long as you make a statement with your products.”
Emilye Schmale, senior director of marketing for Petmate in Arlington, Texas, said the brand blocks help build brand loyalty. She also recommends marketing âlikeâ toys together, like balls. Less common is to market by species size.
But what should grab the consumer’s attention: food or toys? Dena Tucker, owner of Greenfeather Bird Supply in West Hartford, Connecticut, said toys should come first “because the customer needs food, and with that placement the customer has to pass the toys in their path.”
For birds in particular, she recommends separating toys by size or bird rather than type.
New displays / educational material
Manufacturers often provide merchandising aids, ranging from displays to signs. Some of these materials are designed to cross-sell with other company products.
For example, Snug n ‘Tug toys, the latest product line from Emerald Pet Products, can be displayed next to the Twizzies display, said Glenn Novotny, vice president of sales and marketing for the Walnut Creek Company, in California.
Caitec Corp. in Baltimore offers a permanent wooden display that can be restocked for its line of Hero dog toys. Petmate in Arlington, Texas offers dumpers, chargers and electrical panels for some of its new lines.
âEach of our retailers has their own layout, so we offer to work with them to create signage to suit their store,â said Ellen Lawson, Founder and President of Fluff & Tuff in Troy, Michigan. âWhether it’s our logo or a library of lifestyle images, we can tailor them to their unique space. The branding is consistent, but the ability to make them unique within each retailer keeps the displays unique to each store. “
Retailers are grateful for help from manufacturers, including Toni Shelaske, owner of Healthy Pet Products in Pittsburgh.
âManufacturers certainly make it easier for retailers to display their products,â said Shelaske. âI see a lot of planograms accompanying the product. Retailers appreciate this; we don’t all have that visual eye. The same goes for educational material and signage. The customer can do some reading in the store if we are busy with other customers. “
This article was originally published in the June 2016 issue of Pet Product News.