8 Ways Rural Retailers Profit With Rodent Category Despite Stricter FIFRA Regulations & Greening Consumer Demand

Sep 29, 2011, 16:29 ET from Earth-Kind

BISMARCK, N.D., Sept. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Between a rock and a hard place: that's where retailers in the home-and-garden or farm-and-ranch sectors are these days when it comes to customers' rodent problems.

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Retailers need to stock effective products that customers want, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restricts rodent control products quickly if the products endanger the environment, animals, or humans.

Retail game-changers

U.S. consumers are becoming eco-conscious and proving it with their retail spending habits.  

  • An overwhelming percentage of adults want the products they use to be safe for the environment. They prefer to eliminate mice, rats, and other pests by using "green" solutions, and are willing to pay more for eco-friendly products.  
  • More than 30% of Americans will eventually have a rodent problem. Most will choose a retail product before hiring an exterminator. And they'll want that retail product to be both effective and easy to use. Cost is secondary.
  • The natural products market is growing 22% faster than the toxic products market.

FIFRA determines what's on retail shelves

It's a mouthful: the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide ACT (FIFRA). The EPA considers rodents a public health risk pest, and rodent repellents, whether they're traditional or natural, must be registered federally and in every state in which they will be sold. To be federally registered by the EPA, a product must be at least 50%-60% effective and have gone through extensive—and expensive—product safety testing for human, animal, and environmental safety.

Many states follow the EPA's lead. If the Federal EPA hasn't registered a rodent control product as being effective and safe for the control of mice & rats, those states will refuse to allow the product to be sold.

The first EPA-registered rodent repellent

Fresh Cab™ by Earth-Kind® was the first botanical rodent repellent that actually worked. The EPA was so stunned by Fresh Cab™'s effectiveness that it required three separate independent tests before it would register the product. Since its registration in 2007, Fresh Cab™ has been the only natural rodent repellent EPA-approved for indoor and enclosed spaces. It's also the #1 animal repellent on the U.S. Department of Agriculture bio-preferred list.

Other companies have since entered the market. Bonide® makes Mouse Magic™, but the two products are very different. Mouse Magic™ is exempt from EPA registration because its substances are considered safe (non-poison). However, because it hasn't been Federal EPA-tested & reviewed for either safety or effectiveness, many states don't allow retailers to sell Mouse Magic™.

Fresh Cab™ also contains only natural, safe ingredients that would exempt it from EPA testing—but Earth-Kind® nonetheless pursued that testing and registration 51 separate times to dissuade the perception that natural repellents are nothing more than snake oil. Fresh Cab™'s balsam fir pouches are EPA-registered federally and in all 50 states, and set the standard for cost vs. benefit in the retail natural repellent category, validating that even the thriftiest of consumers –like farmers- will pay more for a product they know works.

8 things rural retailers could teach the rest

Rural retailers are experts at solving mice & rat problems because every rural customer has, at some time, had a severe rodent problem.

In addition, rural retailers live and die by their customer relationships. If they give bad advice, they'll hear about it at the coffee shop or high school football game.  

Tractor Supply Company® (TSC®) is a superb example of the best in rural retailing.

  • Experts attract loyal customers, and every TSC® store has a resident horse expert, welding expert, and fence expert.
  • The TSC® website is well-organized and full of helpful advice on any subject a rural customer might need.
  • Customers can get a handy online price-check for their local store.
  • And best of all, TSC® works closely with manufacturers, which keeps prices down.

In the area of rodent control, here's how a rural retailer might profit in spite of changing consumer demands and unforeseen regulations.

  1. Become the local rodent control expert. Research to find out which products actually work, or ask an expert exterminator. http://www.asktheexterminator.com/video/Rodent_Repellent.shtml
  2. Use retailer-friendly manufacturers. Let them do some of the work for you. Fresh Cab™ has a website and Facebook page full of user information, and there's a toll-free help number on the package. http://www.facebook.com/freshcab
  3. Stock several options. After you research, stock every product that works. The more options you can offer customers, the happier everyone will be. http://www.earth-kind.com/Resources/Article28/tabid/452/Default.aspx
  4. Define the problem. Ask the customer how widespread the rodent problem is and what has already been tried. Fresh Cab™ can protect anything in an enclosed area from being chewed on, poo-ed on, or woo-ed on by rodents. (Yes, woo-ed on: one mouse couple can produce up to 15,000 little mice in a year.)
  5. Suggest a strategy. See www.earth-kind.com/resources for consumer-focused, step-by-step rodent relocation plans.
  6. Give 'em a sample. Many rural retailers give away pouches of Fresh Cab™ to loyal customers. Fresh Cab™ offers a 100% money-back guarantee, but with more than 4 million Fresh Cab™ pouches sold, the return rate is less than 1%.
  7. Suggest necessary add-ons. To permanently solve the problem, the customer may need add-on rodent control products such as steel wool, caulking, and wire mesh attic and dryer vents.
  8. Keep building relationships. Follow up with your customers and ask if their problem was solved. It's surprising how many retailers neglect this step.

Kari Block is a rodent expert, innovation engineer, and CEO of Earth-Kind®, which manufactures Fresh Cab™ botanical rodent repellent.

SOURCE Earth-Kind