Pet specialty retailers should aim to leverage eye-catching product packaging when
merchandising herp habitats, and also look for opportunities to display full-blown setups,
industry experts said.
Michael Acerra, digital marketing manager for Penn-Plax Pet Products in Hauppauge, N. Y.,
said the company prides itself on producing beautiful and interactive packaging that helps tell
the story of a product without the item even being removed from the box.
Still, he said the best way to market these products is to display them wherever possible, as
there’s nothing like seeing and touching the product.
“By housing the animals available for sale in enclosures that are also for sale, it’s easier for
the customer to get a better idea of what to expect when they bring the product home,” he said.
“The same goes for accessories as well.”
At East Bay Vivarium in Berkeley, Calif., a large percentage of floor space is taken up by live
animals so customers see the numerous cage possibilities.
“About 30 percent of my sales floor is glass and wooden cages, and they can see animals in
appropriate caging and decide what’s best for them,” said Owen Maercks, owner of the store.
LLLReptile & Supply Co. in Oceanside, Calif., stacks the habitats on the shelves and can
show photos of some of the more popular ones so customers get a better idea of what they
With only 3,000 square feet in the store, and a reptile section that is barely 12 by 24, Adam
Marietta, owner of Aquatic Environments in Davenport, Iowa, noted he packs his habitats from
top to bottom.
“We stack them everywhere I can, as high as I can,” he said. “I try to carry everything, and
I can special order products for customers if they know what they want, having seen them on
the internet beforehand.”
Steve Sotelo, Exo Terra division manager for Hagen Group in Mansfield, Mass., said stores
need to take the time to display products in a functional environment.
“As attention spans continue to shrink, we have to be diligent in creating content that
gauges all of the consumers’ interests and attention,” he said.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Fortunately, the reptile community is very welcoming, and it’s easy for new hobbyists to get all
of the information they need quickly and easily. Still, when it comes to educating consumers,
it takes a village, said Michael Acerra, digital marketing manager for Penn-Plax Pet Products in
Hauppauge, N. Y.
“On the retail side of things, a knowledgeable and helpful staff is critically important,”
he said. “By making it easy for people to come into your store and get the information and
products they need, you’re able to position your store as a resource for the community, and
that’s something that many online retailers continue to have trouble with. So it’s a great way
for brick-and-mortar stores to differentiate themselves from the other retail options.”
Adam Marietta, owner of Aquatic Environments in Davenport, Iowa, said not all customers
need help, but he and his team are ready to educate when needed.
“When people come to the store—especially the younger ones—most of them already
know what they need and want because of the internet,” he said. “Those who need help are
more of the 40-year-old moms who come in looking for gifts, so we talk to them about what
they need to get going and spend time showing them exactly what they need to do.”
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What can you provide retailers to help
them better serve your products and for
consumers to better understand them?
“I spend considerable time working with our
R&D team, and at consumer events, and working
with all Hagen field employees visiting accounts.
It’s quite rewarding being in tune with all facets
of the business, especially bringing new products
to market.”—STEVE SOTELO, Exo Terra division
manager for Hagen Group in Mansfield, Mass.
“We make several education resources available
for consumers and retail sales associates. In
addition to our website at zoomed.com, we have
informational videos on our You Tube channel
and product promotions through newsletters,
Facebook and other social media pages. We have
an active sales team that regularly has displays
at local reptile shows and visits pet and reptile
stores.”—ASHLEY RADEMACHER, animal care
and education director for Zoo Med Laboratories
in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
“Zilla Products has a monthly
newsletter called the ZooLetter.
Our topics are related to education,
mostly, with a little bit of fun as
well as some special offers such
as coupons and Z-Points, our loyalty
program. We hope reptile owners
or those considering reptiles as
pets subscribe to the ZooLetter as it
will help keep them informed.”—PAM
MORISSE, digital and media marketing manager for Central Garden & Pet,
in Franklin, Wis.
SPECIALIST SMALL PET BRAND
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SUPREME PPN STRIP AD 10in x 4in JAN 18 AW.indd 1 25/01/2018 16:09