BY AUDREY PAVIA
Manufacturers and retail- ers are seeing a number of different trends in the
herp habitat category.
Michael Acerra, digital marketing manager for Penn-Plax
Inc. in Hauppauge, N. Y., pointed
out a trend in habitats that feature
land and water environments in
the same enclosure for animals
“Wet/dry tubs have been
growing in popularity,” he said.
“I think it’s only a matter of time
before you start to see them inte-
grated into habitats in more aes-
thetically pleasing ways.”
ments for herps are a growing
trend, said Steve Sotelo, Exo Ter-
ra division manager and reptile
expert for Rolf C. Hagen (USA)
Corp. in Mansfield, Mass.
“Décor that looks like some-
thing a reptile would encounter
in the wild is on the rise,” he said.
“Product development drives
this industry, and herp consum-
ers are always looking for new
and amazing products.”
Jay Brewer, owner of Prehis-
toric Pets in Fountain Valley, Ca-
lif., finds that thermal needs have
become an even more important
issue through the years.
“Smaller wattage bulbs, like
nanos, offer low-wattage control
over your tank,” he said. “We’re
seeing an uptick in doing whatever’s necessary to save electricity. It’s better for the environment
and increases safety.”
Herp product trends point to natural-looking
environments that are both pleasing to look
at and good for the health of the animal.
Herp owners often are eager to learn how to better care for their pets, and taking advantage of this quest for knowledge can also help with sales of herp habitats.
“Attention spans are ever shrinking, but that doesn’t mean people avoid education,” said Steve Sotelo, Exo Terra
division manager and reptile expert for Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp. in Mansfield, Mass. “In reptilekeeping, the opposite
is actually true. Generally, reef aquarists and reptilekeepers tend to be the most info-hungry pet industry consum-
ers. The best way to stay in tune with these consumers is to interact and connect. Asking questions about their pets
goes significantly further in establishing relationships than having your sales associates memorize packaging.”
Jay Brewer, owner of Prehistoric Pets in Fountain Valley, Calif., finds that customer education is particularly
important when it comes to those new to the hobby.
“Our staff has a lot of expertise, and we like to spread it around,” he said. “This is vital. We have go-to people
HERP HABITAT DISPLAY & MARKETING
who have an overall knowledge but can get very detailed in specific areas, like heating, lighting, design and which
pets [customers] should select. Our goal is to ensure no bad experiences.”
Not only is customer education important, but having knowledgeable salespeople is vital too, said Steven Spitz,
CEO of BigApplePetSupply.com in Boca Raton, Fla.
“With all pet products, especially when we’re talking about more exotic pets, the best
salespeople in the pet shop are the animals themselves,” said Michael Acerra, digital
marketing manager for Penn-Plax Inc. in Hauppauge, N. Y. “The display habitats in your
shop are the perfect way to promote products. It’s also a great way to begin a dialogue
with your customers, as they tend to have questions about the products they see in
Steve Sotelo, Exo Terra division manager and reptile expert for Rolf C. Hagen (USA)
Corp. in Mansfield, Mass., said retailers should remove products from their packages.
“In this retail climate, stores are best served setting themselves apart,” he said.
“Creating an experience for your consumers works wonders.”
Jay Brewer, owner of Prehistoric Pets in Fountain Valley, Calif., also recommends
retailers set up their kits.
“Use an array of your best products, and show off your creativity,” he said. “It takes a
lot of the guesswork out of it for newcomers and spruces up your shop.”