By Ted Lawrence
As the pool and spa/hot tub industry goes through what everyone hopes will be a short winter, it is important for business owners—especially those operating pool/spa retail stores—to start the New Year off right by putting together a marketing and advertising plan for the coming year. To do this properly, it is important to start with an advertising budget; once a reasonable monetary amount has been determined, plan all of the events and sales, the type of media that will be used to reach the end consumer and, finally, all of the products that will be advertised to bring consumers flocking to the store.
Does this sound ludicrous? There are many retailers who have extremely large advertising budgets to those who have none. Some retailers may even have competitively priced chlorine tablets, shock, and algaecide in all of their advertising, which may be better and cheaper than the competition, but they do not get the response they think they should with respect to drawing customers to their store, while others with small budgets may get huge reactions to their advertising. Why does this happen? The answer always comes down to the content. If the content does not get the consumer excited then they will not come through the door. Face it, chlorine and its ancillary products are not the most exciting products; however, they are a necessity to have in some advertising. Where many retailers are failing is they are not giving the consumer what they really want in an advertising piece. Sure the pricing has to be competitive, but it should not be the only content.
What do consumers really want?
It is hard for retailers to know exactly what the consumer wants, but guess what? They do not know either. For example, it is hard for some to imagine their lives without their smartphone (an item just a few years ago many lived without). Today, however, almost everyone has one of these devices and they cannot be pried out of their hands.
The pool and spa/hot tub industry may not have the exact equivalent with regards to product demand, but there are definitely products that once the consumer sees they will not only want, but also could not imagine their pool without it.
What are these products? One good example is illuminated accessories. Why? Because pool builders never talk about them, mass merchants hardly display them, and online/catalogue companies cannot properly convey the ‘wow’ factor to the consumer to create excitement. However, retailers can. But, similar to mass merchants, most do not display or talk about them either.
Illuminated products cover a wide array and variety; some are obvious, while others not so much. The following is a list of these products:
- Replacement lights: Replacing existing incandescent pool lighting with either light-emitting diode (LED) or similar.
- Landscape lighting: Lighting that accents the exterior perimeter of the pool, landscape, and home.
- Floating lights: Rechargeable, battery-operated lights that are available in many shapes and sizes. These lights can be used in and around the pool and last up to eight hours without charging.
- Lighted fountains: Add-on illuminated fountains can be self-installed and look great. These are the perfect touch to an upcoming party and typically sell for less than $100.
- Lighted toys and games: Kids flock to illuminated accessories. One example of this type of product is illuminated noodles. These are the types of products people want when they see others have them.