Saturday, April 01, 2006

On Global Pet Exp

I just arrived home from the APPMA Global Pet Expo. It was exhausting walking up and down in the San Diego Convention Center. How many footballs fields is that venue? Orlando is better for walking, and I am looking forward to the APPMA utilizing that site next year for another great show. If you don't know, it is very difficult to see it all. I really felt like I needed another two days to see everything. To keep me on my game, I’d best stop indulging in having lunches and dinners with those corporate folks. I should only be hungry for pet products and new product knowledge.

The show was interesting, but I have just a few comments and a few questions.

I had heard APPMA's Bob Vetere was on television promoting products. I am curious—what did he promote? He generally doesn't do that. Perhaps I should ask him, or maybe someone will tell me.

I am always happy to see Bud Most of Iams. He has such energy and always a big smile. Thanks to Iams and my lovely breeders, Diane Boettcher of Dal-bo's cattery in NC and Lynn Knight of Burbrae cattery in MD, my Himalayan Harrison, or Dal-bo's Write-in-Style, is a GC, GP and will be a Northeast Regional CFA Champion. It was also nice to meet Petlane's Lane Nemeth. I have heard so much about her and her pet parties, which are thrown similarly to Tupperware parties. Watch for Lane's continue rise.

Alan Kerzner, formally of Hartz, has been watching the natural product market for years. He predicted quietly to me that this trend is really ready to hit big. I agree with him. Pet Stores will no longer be wary of selling natural products because pet owners will consider natural products a mainstream means to care for their pets. This year, there were a lot of all natural products, especially snacks. And yes, no one really uses the word "holistic" any more. Use the word "natural" – better for sales and not as scary to consumers and customers.

As a writer, I had many people approach me at the show so that they could introduce me to their new, all natural products. But where are these snacks coming from? Before retailers buy, they need to ask that question so that they can assess the quality of the manufacturing. If you want to learn more about all natural products, talk to Halo's Andi Brown and Susan Weiss from Ark Naturals. Andi writes a column in New York Dog and Hollywood magazines that is quite good. And Susan is always telephone-ready. I also want to thank Andi's staff; they fed my dog, Thames, and he loved the Spot's Stew.

Secondly, innovation was at a minimum. I very rarely hit the new product showcase first. I like to see if I am up to the challenge of finding the new products myself. I found a few and will be writing about them in an article for American Express Publishing this week, as well as posting them in a press release which will be distributed at the beginning of next week of Profnet.

Thirdly, tech is back. A few years ago, all the media was writing about was all the high-tech pet products. Well, guys and dolls, start writing about it again. There are some very interesting products, especially self-cleaning cat litter boxes. Today's self-cleaning litter box is round shaped. I was very impressed by the Cat Genie. Can you believe this? The Cat Genie uses a plastic-type litter and it is really self-cleaning. First, it rakes and scoops the waste. Urine streams to the bottom of the unit. Then, water and sanitizer clean the "litter." This new litter is then blown dry. I only wish that I could find an invention that could clean my toilet with such thoughtfulness. Did I forget to mention that you have to attach a water supply and the toilet pipes to this new invention.

As a pet trend watcher, I try to read as many books and magazines and watch as much TV as possible. So, since being back home in NYC, I watched the Today Show and Good Morning America. Could these shows find someone who really knows about pet products? Here's a hint to the young ladies who demonstrate the products. If you are going to be showing pet products on television, mention the manufacturer’s name! For example, on Good Morning America, did the viewer know that the Quick Control Collar was a Bamboo Pet Product? And also, let the Today Show know that you are working for a particular company and that you will be showing their products. Don't get me wrong, I like XXXX products, but was it necessary to show two of them when there were so many other products that were just as innovative? The self-cleaning litter was box was better than the other product that she showed. All in all, I hope that Animal Haven got some calls about their pets. They are quickly becoming the NYC animal hot charity. Bid-A-Wee and the ASPCA should watch out and learn! Marcello and his staff are lovely. Please help them by donating money, products and your time.

Lastly, caution to all Little Red Riding Hoods out there. Central Pet and Garden, what a big booth you had! I am so curious as to what else are you going to buy this year. I almost lost count of all the companies that you have devoured. On a more interesting note, we are all curious as to how you are going to restructure and run your big empire. Can't wait for that chapter to begin. Please put me on your press list.

On a pleasant note, last night I watched Quincy Yu of Sea-Yu Enterprises hawk her odor eliminator product on QVC. Good job, Quincy. Now, watch out! You and Dennis, your co-owner and husband, may be gobbled up by a big company one day.

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