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Pet Care's New Pedigree

By: Leslie Benson
Posted: November 4, 2008, from the November 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

Professional and mass beauty brands are expanding into the pet care segment.

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Fortunately for Masters, the U.K. pet care market—including food, insurance and accessories—was worth $4.2 billion in 2004, according to The Pet Product Market in the United Kingdom, a July 2005 market research report by the U.S. Commercial Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Since then, pet ownership in the U.K. has remained steady. Marcella Marcheso, commercial specialist for the U.S. Commercial Service in London’s American Embassy, believes that despite the lag in new pet adoption, owners will spend as lavishly on their pets as they would their children. In 2005 alone, sales of pet grooming and hygiene equipment in the U.K. reached more than $60 million. This number is forecast to increase by a compounded annual growth rate of 4.9% through 2009 for the entire pet care segment.

Most of the pet products in the U.K. are made in China, due to the country’s relatively low manufacturing costs. The U.S. accounts for a significant portion of imported products there, as well, according to the U.S. Commercial Service. However, U.S.-based niche organic pet care brands are also gaining in popularity, boosting domestic sales. As far as niche spa and boutique pet brands go, U.S.-based Spot Organics expresses similar organic values as Masters’ professional salon brand, expanding its handmade organic skin care remedies to help prevent canines’ itchy skin, bad breath, ear infections, anxiety, depression, motion sickness and flea infections. Kyla Sims, owner of Spot Organics, says her brand’s simple ingredient list makes a difference with her customers, who often include empty nesters with disposable incomes and young adults without children.

“We use common names for our ingredients so there is no confusion, and you know exactly what you are putting on or into your dog,” Sims says. Among the organic, plant-based ingredients used in her 4-oz. aromatherapy dog sprays or shampoo bars are blends of organic aloe vera, organic virgin olive oil and other ingredients commonly found in human personal care brands.

“The organic segment of the pet market is booming right now,” Sims says. “I think the pet food recall last year made a lot of people think about what they are putting into their dogs’ mouths.”

For the growing pet care markets in China, Japan and Europe, Sims says she is looking for an international distributor—especially to mom-and-pop shops—and hopes her brand’s “upscale, clean look” will continue appealing to target customers.