cat or dog to fit comfortably.
Buckley agrees that style is a major trend in the pet carrier category.
“Pet parents tend to be more fashion and feature conscious than they
were previously,” he says.
Gen7Pets has created a number of products that cater to this desire
for chic carriers, including the Deluxe Carry-Me Pet Carrier. This carrier
features accessible storage pockets and a padded shoulder strap, and
it comes in three stylish patterns: black onyx, cheetah and zebra.
While fashion is important to modern pet parents, that doesn’t mean
they’re willing to sacrifice function. One of the most common questions
from customers is about fit, says Fine, because a carrier doesn’t do
owners much good if the dog or cat doesn’t fit inside properly.
Retailers can position themselves as the experts in the carrier category by helping customers find the product that best fits their pooch
or feline. A well-fitting carrier should provide enough room for pets to
comfortably turn around in, but not be so big that they slide around.
Staff should be well-versed in the specs of each carrier as provided
by the manufacturer. For example, Bark n Bag’s Organic Denim Carrier—billed as the first organic carrier on the market—comes in three
different sizes. The small is perfect for pets up to 14 inches long, seven
inches high and weighing a maximum of eight pounds, while the large
can hold animals up to 18 inches long, 10 inches high and weighing
as much as 22 pounds.
If owners are planning on flying with their pet, they should also take
airline requirements into consideration. A majority of airlines allow passengers to carry on one pet, but the carrier needs to be able to fit
comfortably under a passenger seat, have mesh panels and be made
of water repellant material.
Many manufacturers will list if products meet standard airline regulations. The Carry Me carrier by Gen7Pet, for instance, is small enough to
slide under an airline seat and features a comfort pad and mesh panels.
Another major concern among pet owners is safety. Just like we
wear a seatbelt when traveling, pets also need to be properly secured
in the car. The ASPCA recommends securing the carrier or crate so
it will not slide or shift around in the car during an abrupt stop. Many
carriers, including Gen7Pet’s Carry Me and Bark n Bag’s Nylon Carrier,
feature gadget straps that can be fastened down with a seatbelt in
seconds—no fiddling or complicated instructions needed. For an extra
layer of security, carriers may also feature interior tethers.
Retailers can help quell safety concerns by ensuring customers are
educated about proper pet travel protocol. Before the holidays, when
many pet owners take their furry companions along to grandma’s
house, consider setting up a carrier display with travel tips, such as
‘Never leave your pet alone in the car’ and ‘Pack a pet travel kit with
food, bowls, leash, medication and a waste scoop.’
The final key consideration for pet parents with regard to carriers
is comfort for both the pet and the handler, says Fine. Bark n Bag’s
Wheeled Jetway Carrier features a washable, organic cotton, quilted
pad, which provides pets with a super comfy place to relax while on the
go. And in addition to adjustable shoulder straps, the carrier also has
front swivel 360-degree wheels, making it extra easy for pet owners to
take their furry friends along for the ride.
Gen7Pets takes this idea of wheeled carriers to the next level with
its line of strollers designed specifically for pets. The Monaco Stroller
features a lightweight aluminum frame, ergonomic handles, an auto-latch canopy and an effortless one-hand folding operation. Able to hold
up to 60 pounds, the Monaco Stroller brings together luxury, style and
convenience into one must-have product.
Building A Destination Category
To get the most out of this growing category, pet retailers should be
sure to carry a variety of carriers for different pets’ and pet parents’
needs. “Retailers need to stock up on basics and layer fashion to draw
attention to the category,” says Fine. “For the pet parent, the core inven-
tory is destination, the fashion is impulse.”
And while a wide selection of high-quality carriers and strollers is
great, retail staff members also need to know exactly what it is they’re
selling. Employees should be educated about the specifications of the
various models—from carrying capacity to safety features—in order to
help customers find the best carrier for their pet.
Buckley encourages retailers to get to know their customers when
helping them choose a carrier. “Retailers can best assist the pet own-
ers by finding out information about their pet and assuring them that
they will be nice and comfortable in a specific carrier that they are
looking at,” he says. “It could also help to find out how much they are
planning to travel with their pets.”
Retailers can also utilize strategic signage and displays to inform
customers about carrier features, like which carriers meet airline regu-
lations, which are ideal for road trips and which suit small breeds best.
Another great way to promote carriers: have a few models set up
so customers can get an idea of a product’s size and quality. It may be
challenging for some customers to visualize what size is the best fit
for their pet, so this allows them to pick up and even try out different
carriers. If a pet parent can physically feel and see the product out of
the box, they’re more likely to take it to the register and out the door.
Overall, the biggest lesson from the pet carrier category is that traveling with pets is now less of a luxury and more of an expectation. Pets
are part of the family, so they should get to go on vacation, too. PB