Bright colors, new characters and an interactive experience—this might sound like a description of the latest smartphone app, but it’s actually what retailers and consumers can look forward to from the world of GloFish. When these bright-colored fish hit the market a little over 10 years ago, they immediately started making waves, adding something new to the market that appealed to a wide range of customers, and the category continues to grow in popularity and in sales.
“GloFish is a significant and growing portion of the market in both hard goods and fish sold in the United States,” said Sean Raines, director of marketing, aquarium environments and equipment for Spectrum Brands, Pet, Home and Garden division.
Part of the reason for this growth is the very fact that the category’s description could easily be mistaken for a smartphone app or even a theme park, showing the excitement and innovation of the category that appeals to kids and young families looking for new experiences. But the appeal of GloFish casts a wide net extending even to long-time hobbyists. The colorful fish make a fun addition to existing aquariums, and the fact that there are constantly new fish and products coming out on the market means consumers find something new to enhance their experience when they come back into the store.
A Growing Lineup
One thing helping GloFish to remain popular with hobbyists is the addition of new colors and species. Last year saw the introduction of three new lines of GloFish—two longfin tetras, green and orange, and a red barb—bringing the total lines available to consumers up to 15. The red barb brings a second color of GloFish to the barb line, which is a helpful addition since it’s usually recommended to have a group of at least five barbs living together.
“Having that second color makes the barb a more attractive choice now that consumers can have more than one color in their group,” said Alan Blake, CEO of Yorktown Technologies, the company behind GloFish.
And of course, the three new fish add more color and choice to the category overall.
New fish are introduced to the public through research and development as well as traditional selective breeding of existing lines.
“Sometimes we find a really beautiful fish that comes about through natural variation in the fish or through making different crosses, and we just want to share it with the public,” Blake said. “It’s exciting to be able to continue to add variety and build the category, giving people more options and choices.”
Researchers at Yorktown Technologies are continuously working to add new dimensions to the GloFish experience, and new additions are planned for 2017 as well.
In addition to the fish themselves, innovations in lights and décor help add to the growth and excitement in the GloFish category. While the fish themselves are brilliant on their own, adding different lights changes the way they fluoresce, making them more vibrant or more florescent depending on the color. The lights can also create an interactive experience for the aquarium. New Cycle Lights from Tetra add a new dimension to GloFish aquariums through the addition of a black light to the white and blue light experience. The black light is found in the midnight mode of the cycle light, and when used in conjunction with Color-Changing Plants and Color-Changing Décor, this light actually makes the décor change colors.
Other modes of the Cycle Lights include sunlight, which makes the vivid colors of the fish even more vibrant; moonlight, which makes the décor and fish fluoresce; and twilight, which cycles between moonlight and midnight modes.
“The Cycle Lights really tie the fish and the ornaments together, creating something unique and allowing people to have a multitude of experiences with the aquarium,” Raines said.
The Cycle Lights and Color-Changing Plants and Ornaments expand the line-up of GloFish products available from Tetra that includes ornaments and plants that stand out under blue LED lights, aquarium backgrounds and aquarium kits.
In 2017, Gloria GloFish joins the ranks of Nemo, Dory, SpongeBob and other characters who help bring the world under water to life. Created by Yorktown Technologies, this green tetra will be used for marketing, starting with a cling that retailers can use to help educate their customers on the origins of GloFish.
“Through our research, we found that half of all freshwater fish owners would be more likely to buy GloFish if they knew the fish were not dyed, injected or otherwise harmed,” Blake said. “There are still certain misconceptions among the public about GloFish, and Gloria provides a great way to communicate with customers and helps build a personal connection to GloFish.”
In addition to the clings, Gloria will have her own storybook, “Gloria and the Aquarium of Smiles,” as a promotional item given away in Tetra’s GloFish aquarium kits.
“GloFish is an area where I feel we are able to go beyond the purchase and enrich the life of the consumer, and Gloria and her book helps us do that even more,” Raines said.
These books also provide a great marketing opportunity for stores. Retailers can hold a story time on weekend afternoons, inviting families to come to the store for a reading of Gloria’s book and light refreshments. In addition to creating a community event, the story time is a great way to bring in new people to browse through the store and have an introduction to the exciting world of aquariums.
All of the innovation around GloFish helps make it a significant segment in the aquarium category.
“GloFish speaks to the people who are seeking a connection with animal life and family, as well,” Raines said. “We’re closing the gap between just having an aquarium in the house and having it be part of the family.”