13258 Thu, 12/13/2007 - 5:50pm
By Michael Rudnick
Heading into 2008, vacuum makers' newest pet project to grab a growing consumer niche is pet cleanup.
With pet owners in the United States at 71 million and climbing, floor care manufacturers are hoping to capitalize on these potential customers, said Rob Newcombe, vice president of marketing at Electrolux Home Care Products North America. He said that pet owners are willing to spend "lots of money" on products fitting their specific pet needs, which also enables manufacturers to boost vacuum price points by adding pet-cleaning-specific features.
Electrolux next year is looking to launch a line of Eureka uprights designed for pet hair cleanup, Newcombe said. The company has yet to determine a name for the possible line. The vacuums would feature a special nozzle designed to remove pet hair from carpets and furniture. The company will also sell the nozzle as an aftermarket attachment for existing Eureka upright vacuums, which could help generate additional sales from existing Eureka vacuum owners.
Because the top cleaning priorities of pet owners are pet-hair pickup and odor removal, Electrolux late last year partnered with Church & Dwight Co. to launch its first full line of vacuum bags and filters to offer odor-elimination capabilities using Arm & Hammer baking soda. Newcombe said that select vacuums in the planned pet line will include these vacuum bags.
TTI Floor Care North America views the pet market as a growing opportunity for new business and recently stepped up its efforts targeting this consumer sector with both its Dirt Devil and newly acquired Hoover brands. "We estimate that [pet owner] expenditures will exceed $40 billion in 2007," said Chris Gurreri, president of TTI Floor Care North America. "With 63 percent of U.S. households owning a pet, there is a huge opportunity for floor care manufacturers to fill these unique cleaning needs, such as the ongoing battle with pet hair or the occasional accident," he said.
TTI in late September introduced Purpose for Pets, what it claims is the first portable carpet cleaner featuring an LED black light in the pet-stain-cleaning brush to locate and clean invisible, odorous pet stains. The new $99 spot cleaner includes a cleaner kit consisting of pet-stain and odor-remover solution and carpet shampoo for pets.
TTI's new advertising campaign for the Hoover WindTunnel+Cyclonic upright vacuum prominently highlights the problem of pet hair and demonstrates to consumers how the vacuum is equipped to address this type of cleaning, Gurreri said. The vacuum includes a pet-hair-cleaning attachment. The Hoover Web site organizes products by feature, one of which is labeled "pet hair."
Halo Co., the upstart vacuum maker behind the new Halo UV-ST, an upright that uses ultraviolet light to kill germs, mold bacteria and other allergens in carpet, has keyed in on the pet-set with its advertising. The company's Web site, halocompany.com, which was launched on Oct. 1, features a streaming video ad in which a little girl accompanied by her golden retriever discusses how "your carpet can be a very scary place, especially if you have pets." She goes on to say that pet owners can have a considerable collection of dust mites, ticks, fleas and tapeworms in their carpet, which Halo's ultraviolet technology is designed to eradicate. Halo plans to incorporate this message to pet owners in print and television advertising early next year, Jeffery Collins, Halo Co.'s vice president of sales and marketing, told HFN.
Jim Krzeminski, Bissell Homecare's executive vice president of sales, marketing and product development, said vacuum makers' move to focus on pet care is part of a larger push to address specific consumer lifestyles.
Bissell in late September launched its first full-sized vacuum specifically designed for pet-hair cleanup. The $149.99 Pet Hair Eraser features brushes and cleaning tools targeted at removing pet hair and dander from carpets and upholstery. The vacuum has a pet-hair lifter, which works like a lint brush on floors by grabbing pet hair when the user pulls back on the vacuum, and releasing the hair and suctioning it upward when the vacuum is pushed forward. Its Pet Contour Tool bends and flexes to pull out dirt and hair from areas, including stairs and upholstery. The vacuum also features a Pet TurboBrush, which operates like a magnet to attract hair. The unit is also equipped with a HEPA filter that traps pet dander and other allergens.
Bissell packaged its new pet cleanup attachments separately as The Pet Pack in efforts to generate aftermarket sales and to target owners of other brands' vacuums. The pet-hair-removal attachment kit is designed to work with a number of major vacuum brands and includes the Pet Contour Tool, Pet TurboBrush and two universal adaptors, which allow users to attach these tools to Dirt Devil, Dyson, Eureka, Hoover and Kenmore vacuums.
One manufacturer, Black & Decker, is now addressing pet hair on a compact level with a corded hand vacuum, the Black & Decker Retriever Pet Series. This cyclonic hand vacuum features a turbo brush with rubber bristles that generate an electrostatic charge for pet-hair pickup.