For optimal merchandising, the secret seems to be keeping
a wide selection of décor items in stock and rotating
through a portion of offerings frequently.
“You have your core section, but then you have a
section—it could be an endcap, and it might not even be
merchandised in with the other décor items—that should
be aspirational,” said Francis Kudla, sales and marketing
consultant for Aquatop in Brea, Calif.
The core items are the bread-and-butter ornaments
that sell well most of the time, according to Kudla. For the
aspirational items, he recommended shopping distributors’
fliers and rotating through new offerings as they become
“There’s a challenge with that, because you need a
liquidation strategy when you rotate through,” he said. “You
can simply do markdowns and then bring in something new
Putting décor items in display aquariums also helps
“It’s always a great idea to have a few ornaments in the
aquariums that the customers can see,” said Chris LeRose,
aquatic division manager for The Hagen Group in Mansfield,
With flashier, brightly colored décor, this strategy can
be especially effective.
“There is definitely a trend toward brightly colored
décor and fish accessories,” said Sean Raines, director
of aquatic marketing product development for Spectrum
Brands’ pet, home and garden division in Stamford, Conn.
“People are attracted to the brighter colors.”
It’s important to put décor in displays with live fish or
dry tanks, said Bill Wymard, owner of Aquarium Adventure
in Columbus, Ohio.
“It’s really the only way to drive sales,” he said. “You
can put all the decorations you want on a gondola or an
endcap, but until the customer sees it in a tank, they don’t
get the ideas of what they can do with it. We probably have
anywhere from 50 to 100 dry tank displays on the floor, and
every one of them is fully decorated to give people ideas of
what they can do.”
ERCHANDISING SSORTMENT OPTIMIZATION
MIX TO MATCH
Knowing their customer base can help
pet specialty retailers figure out what
mix of product to carry, and this often
includes knowing what customers are
willing to spend.
“You have two types of décor: ultra
natural or a more artistic design,” said
Chris LeRose, aquatic division manager
for The Hagen Group in Mansfield, Mass.
“The price points for ornaments run from
one end of the spectrum to the other
based on quality, size and appearance.
It is a great idea for a retailer to have all
different price points in their inventory
to have options for their customers.”
Retailers also have to figure out
whether their customers favor freshwa-
ter or saltwater setups.
“Freshwater décor out sells
saltwater décor due to most saltwater
hobbyists’ tendency to go more the
natural way when setting up their
tanks,” LeRose said. “It all depends on
the customer and the style they are
Marine aquarists might be moving
toward artificial coral offerings in greater
numbers, as well.
“[Consumers are] flocking to
brighter décor for the affordability,”
said Sean Raines, director of aquatic
marketing product development for
Spectrum Brands’ pet, home and garden
division in Stamford, Conn. “The issue is
coral and marine fish require saltwater
aquariums, where the price point can be
too high for consumers. Instead, these
consumers seem to be investing in
starter aquariums and populating them
with bright décor.”
Is there a synergistic relationship between décor sales and
livestock sales in the aquatics industry?
ADD SOME COLOR
The introduction of vibrantly colored and novel items are stirring up the waters in the décor
“We have just added to our Marina Betta line with new décor for smaller aquariums,” said
Chris LeRose, aquatic division manager for The Hagen Group in Mansfield, Mass. “These orna-
ments are designed to add a unique look in a smaller aquarium ideal for betta fish.”
New colorful and glowing options from Tetra are slated to appear on the market in the
“This fall, we are expanding our GloFish color-changing décor with new themed items,
including a castle, dragon and Gloria [a GloFish character appearing in a companion book],” said
Sean Raines, director of aquatic marketing product development for Spectrum Brands’s pet,
home and garden division in Stamford, Conn.
Some of these new items change color when placed under a black light, Raines noted, and,
like other GloFish products, all are designed to emit a brilliant color under blue light.
Naturalistic offerings are expanding, as well, with new lines appearing from Aquatop.
“In the last six months, we’ve introduced a line of aquarium plants that are made of silicone
rather than traditional plastic,” said Francis Kudla, sales and marketing consultant for the Brea,
Calif.-based manufacturer. “They’re at the higher price point, which retailers seem to like. If the
consumers are interested and they can sell something for a higher price point because it has an
additional feature or visual appeal, it’s better for retailers.”
Aquatop also recently introduced AquaRock, resin pieces that mimic live rock, Kudla added.
“The fish are the point. Some parents bring their younger kids in,
and they’re going to buy three ornaments for their 10-gallon tank at
least. Still, the fish is the main focus.”—STEVE MALETZKY, owner
of Tropical Lagoon Aquarium in Silver Spring, Md.
“Fantasy stuff is still really big, especially with the kids. If we can get
the kids keeping fish, it might turn into a lifelong hobby. … There’s a need
for specialty independent retail in the aquatic business. Our business
relies on having quality livestock available to the consumer.”—FRANCIS
KUDLA, sales and marketing consultant for Aquatop in Brea, Calif.
“We’re really focusing on families and kids, and getting
them into their first aquarium. … In our fish department,
all of the tanks are fully decorated. We find having tanks
fully decorated helps sell fish better, but it also sells decorations really well.”—BILL WYMARD, ownerof Aquarium
Adventure in Columbus, Ohio
Products such as Spectrum’s GloFish
Kit help attract young hobbyists.