Unless you are an ostrich and have your head in the sand it is impossible to miss the current trend for a gluten-free world. From the foods we eat to the products we use, experts agree that the amount of gluten we come in contact with will cause an adverse effect on our ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But what does it all mean and what the heck does this have to do with my pet business????
Definition of Gluten: Merriam-Webster defines gluten as: a substance in wheat and flour that holds dough together (simple definition).
It is easy to understand and accept that gluten is found in several foods that we and our pets eat. Also understand that non-food items also contain gluten, such as beauty products, shampoo, household cleaners, and pet products because their ingredients are derived from wheat. Therefore, both people and domesticated pets can have an adverse reaction to gluten. Either due to having celiac disease or a wheat allergy. Those affects can be displayed in the following symptoms:
- Celiac disease. If individuals with celiac disease eat foods with gluten, damage is done to their small intestines resulting in, but not limited to, digestive problems, skin rash, and anemia.
- Non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Individuals that do not have celiac disease may have autoimmune reactions when exposed to wheat and have similar reactions to those with celiac desease.
- Brain fog and fatigue.
- Skin irritation.
- Bone and joint pain
Why your beliefs about gluten-free don’t matter
Whether or not you believe in the gluten-free phenomena is not the point. Your clients may believe in it and that is how you can run an effective business strategy. Internet searches on Google about gluten and gluten-related topics noticeably increased around 2007, peaked in 2014, and has remained relatively constant since it’s peak in 2014. You can see that this topic is very important to many people and let’s be honest, many of those people have dogs!
Gluten-Free Products in the Pet Industry
- Several gluten-free foods and treats
- Probiotic supplements
- Itch remedies
- Envirogroom Professional Pet Products
Look for the Label of Gluten-Free Certification
To avoid the misdirection from marketing teams touting products (falsely) as ‘All Natural’ and ‘Organic,’ look for the certification label. In order to be deemed Gluten Free a company needs to undergo a rigorous certification process. This is important if you will be promoting a Gluten-Free experience in your shop.
There’s a good chance your competitors are not aware (nor do they care!) of this growing population of consumers that base many of their daily decisions on whether or not gluten is in their products. Here lies the great advantage to market to a growing niche of pet owners in your area. These clients will become raving fans of yours and trust me when I say, they will spread the word about your services to all of their gluten conscious friends as well! Don’t mistake what I am saying – there are not going to be thousands of people in your town running to you because you offer gluten-free products. You will get a handful here and there. The brilliance of marketing though is finding a very small niche of specialized thinking (i.e.: gluten-free) and capitalizing on their desires.
Step One: take a page from your local supermarkets marketing strategy. Offer a small selection of retail sized gluten free products to your well-educated clients. Hang a sign promoting Gluten-Free.
Step Two: charge premium dollars for any gluten-free products you use. You and I know, gluten-free products are EXPENSIVE! Anyone who shops for gluten-free items know that they will be paying more. Compare cookies at the grocery store – regular snacks cost $3.00. Want the same thing gluten-free, try $5.00. Do the same in your business! If you have a gluten-free package you can promote, up-charge starting at $10. Your health conscious clients will appreciate the benefits.
Step Three: seek out the ‘sickly dogs’ in your shops. You know the ones that are already eating a grain-free, high-price raw or dry food. The poor babies that have horrible skin and raging ear infections all the time. Suggest to these clients the additional benefits of a gluten-free product line. Many of these poor clients are just trying to find relief for their furry friends.
As more and more people see the value of gluten-free items, they will be seeking services that can fit their needs. Why not be in the forefront of this trend? Be the first in your area and let all of your competition play catch up. It’s a win-win for those clients and for your business as well.
I would love to hear if you implemented any of these ideas and what your experience was. Leave a comment below and we can help each other out!
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