The big take away from looking at the new products at this years’ Global Pet Expo was that pet parents are looking for ways to make it easier to live with their pets. They want them to behave more rationally, they want the processes of having them “go outside,” get a bath and buying the food to be well, less of a process. In short, pet parents want to live better with their animals, particularly within smaller quarters like apartments.
#1 Calming products – alleviate pet (and pet parent) stress. Pets must be stressed out because there were many new products for dogs and cats that promised safe and gentle ways to soothe pets. Product forms included sprays, diffusers, scented disks worn on the collar and infused dog toys. The ingredients doing the trick were hemp, lavender, chamomile, melatonin, L-theanine and CBD oil (I had to research this last one – it’s cannabidiol oil from cannabis – yeah I guess that will de-stress Fido!) Companies that are innovating in this space include: Holistic Hound, Tropiclean, NaturVet, Multipet, Remedy Recovery, Pet Remedy and Comfort Zone, amongst others. Given the number of dogs that are left alone during the day, the number of multi-pet households and the outright craziness of the lives we lead, I think it’s fair to say that pet products that calm will grow and develop as a segment. Look for some of these ingredients to come into food and treats with Sojos leading the way with their Mix a Meal which gives pet parents a choice of adding a calming aid as part of their dietary nutrients option.
#2 All natural scented cat litter – better for living in small places and better for the planet. I was amazed at the level of innovation around botanicals and all natural in the cat litter space. Litter ingredients now consist of tofu, bamboo, orange tree stems, corn, cassava, coconut, apple or cherry wood and mugwort leaves with many of the options available in organic. The botanicals/scented ingredients added to these products include lavender, green tea, amaranth, fresh lemon and charcoal. Innovation around deodorizing crystals and pearls was seen by Alzoo and Ultra Pet. Of note on the branding front, Sustainably Yours by Petfive, takes a page from the pet food world with their sustainability positioning complete with a financial contribution to The Rainforest Trust. Given the total saturation of all natural pet foods and treats, I would expect the continued migration of “all natural” and sustainable to other pet categories.
#3 Pet tech – making it easier to bathe and play with your pet as well as letting him do his business inside. I get such a kick out of meeting smart, passionate entrepreneurs who have left behind the day job or the PhD program to pursue something new in pet. My favorite young companies at Global Pet were: iClean Dog Wash (dog wash vending machine for apartment buildings and such – fantastic idea), Mousr the rechargeable cat toy that interacts with your cat, Brilliant Pad the first self-cleaning dog potty and an idea that wasn’t really “tech” but it was innovative – AquaPaw pet bathing system. Imagine a “system” that combines the rubber sponge with the water that is actually attached to your hand. Why didn’t someone think of this before? The most impressive booth of the show was Pet Kit with their cool white displays and beautifully designed products. I also love their tagline, “The technology that cares.” Needless to say, pet tech and especially integrated systems of the type that Wagz is trying (connected collar, pet door, pet feeder all working from your smart phone) are the future.
#4 Tetra Pak packaging – alleviating some of the transportation and storage issues of cans. Several environmentally conscious brands continue to move to Tetra Pak coated paper packaging to reduce the need for preservatives and reap the advantages of a renewable, easy to carry, store and ship packaging. Brands moving in this direction include: Petcurean Fresh Stews and Pates, Stella & Chewy’s Stella’s Stew and Broth Toppers, Open Farm and Caru Daily Dish. Tetra Pak and pouch packaging makes so much sense on so many levels that we can expect to see it’s adoption continue amongst brands that want to lead.
#5 Bone broth is the latest human trend to make its way to pet. Organic bones from free-range animals plus turmeric and collagen – now dogs can be every bit as cool as their owners! Brands on top of this idea are Castor & Pollux, Primal Vore and Nature’s Logic, amongst others.