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July 19, 2017

By Sara Keegan

With last year’s success of “Finding Dory” and its subsequent line of licensed aquarium products, retailers may be looking for more licensed products to stock on their shelves, as they are popular with a subset of fishkeeping customers.

“As a small business, it is important to us to have a diverse line of ornaments, and for a segment of our customers, licensed decor is attractive, so a shelf or two will continue to be invested in these items,” said Cameo Konfrst, director of operations and marketing of Wet Spot Tropical Fish of Portland, Oregon.

Penn-Plax, Inc., the leader in licensed pet products, has had great success with its various lines of licensed products.

“We’re fortunate enough to work with several licenses that seem to be immensely popular at all times, like SpongeBob SquarePants,” said Michael Acerra of the digital marketing department of Penn-Plax, Inc. “One of our more recent lines of licensed products was for the ‘Finding Dory’ movie, and that was very well received as well.”

And the products don’t just stop at ornaments for the aquarium.

“With our licensed aquarium products, we generally release a full line of new products,” Acerra said. “This will always include aquarium ornaments and small tanks in the one- to five-gallon range. Depending on whether or not it makes sense for the license, you’ll also sometimes see a range of accessories and plants as well.”

SpongeBob is No. 1
“The kids really love [licensed products] because that’s what they’re used to seeing every day,” said Daryl Perkins, manager at Fin & Feather Pet Center, Inc., of Henrico, Virginia.

He believes that licensed products, particularly SpongeBob SquarePants and the “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory” lines, are purchased more often for children who have their own tanks. SpongeBob has been a mainstay for quite some time now.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy lots of success with our line of SpongeBob licensed products. SpongeBob continues to be one of the most beloved characters on television, and he’s a character that transcends age,” Acerra said. “You’d be surprised how many grown men and women are huge fans of the show!”

And of course, for customers who are less inclined to visit the pineapple under the sea, there are other lines that could be more appealing.

“Beyond SpongeBob, our lines that feature classic Disney princesses, as well as new Disney princesses like Anna and Elsa from ‘Frozen,’ are also perennially popular,” Acerra noted.

Perkins believes the price points of SpongeBob products also contribute to their success in his store.

“Over the years, they’ve been able to get the price down for SpongeBob products,” he said. “I know a lot of the Nemo stuff is way too expensive.”

Konfrst also sees success with certain lines of licensed products in her store.

“We see everything from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to ‘Frozen’ decorations leaving our shelves,” Konfrst said.

A Wide Appeal
Konfrst agrees that licensed products appeal to her younger audience.

“Many themed decorations, such as these [SpongeBob items], are very popular with kids and young adults,” she said.

However, she admits that there are other items that are more important to other customers.

“While these ornaments make an aquarium accessible to kids on a different level [being able to have their favorite character in their very own tank], they ultimately are not the backbone of our decor. We still find the natural items [wood, rocks, plants, caves] are the must-have items to stock an aquarium,” Konfrst stated.

Parents looking to provide their children with a hobby in fishkeeping would definitely want to keep up with licensed products for their children’s tanks. But after Nemo and Dory mania has died down, what else is there?

“We have a few new licenses we’re very excited about that you can expect to see shortly. First, there’s our product line for Disney’s latest hit, ‘Moana,’” Acerra explained. “We’re also extremely excited to be a part of the latest ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie [‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,’ which was released in May], and we’ll be releasing a line of products that coincide with that franchise as well.”

So keep an eye on those box office ratings to see what’s coming ashore this summer and beyond.

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