Since 2010, several swimming pool and spa chemical manufacturers
have rebranded their products. This is not uncommon, but these
updates are occurring at a greater rate than in years past.
In fact, half of the manufacturers who responded to an exclusive
Pool & Spa News survey said they rebranded in the last
two years to create a new image for their swimming pool and spa
Following are the results of the survey along with a discussion
about the rebranding initiatives and dealers’ responses to
Traditionally, companies tend to undergo a rebranding every seven
to ten years. However, these days it’s occurring much more
From firms that recently launched their products to legacy brands
with more than 50 years on the market, manufacturers are
reinventing their look to better connect with the consumer while
still retaining a core identity, also known as
“equities” or “anchors.”
The increased frequency of rebranding comes, in part, as a result
of consumers’ reliance on the Internet. This has created an
environment where consumers want the latest and greatest, and if
manufacturers don’t respond immediately, their products may
be overlooked. What’s more, the Internet and the abundance of
resources available have compounded the already confusing nature of
chemicals, a common complaint cited by a high number of the
“It’s the Internet Age, and information is so readily
available but a lot of it is not factual, which has added layers of
complexity for the consumer,” says Joe DeFuria, brand manager
for BioLab’s Pro Dealer Division. “People are
very spur of the moment and if the consumer doesn’t have the
information at their fingertips, you have lost them.”
The Lawrenceville, Ga.-based manufacturer hoped to meet this
dilemma head on with its rebrand in 2010. In response to consumer
focus groups, the company redesigned its core products to address
concerns expressed by the end users as well as the dealers who sold
In addition to tweaking its logo, BioGuard also established five
categories for the user’s specific need, including Maintain,
Inhibit, Remedy, Improve and Off Season. This coincides with a
color-coded system to distinguish the categories more and make the
products “pop” on the shelf. For example, the algaecide
now is labeled as a “remedy” and is color coded
While consumers are turning to the Internet for information more
regularly, the number of those making purchases online also is
quickly increasing. Until recently, the chemical category remained
a safe place for dealers because consumers were reluctant to
purchase those products online, primarily because they don’t
have a strong grasp of what they need to treat their water.
However, 36 percent of dealers who responded to the survey
categorized the threat of online chemical sales last year as having
“increased greatly” while another 31 percent indicated
the threat had “increased slightly.” Granted, 27
percent noted there had been no change, but in general it is a
growing concern among brick-and-mortar retailers.
Currently, chlorine tablets seem to be the most popular chemical
product purchased online, but in time this could change, observes
Shawna Reynolds, assistant general manager of Pool World in
“Consumers don’t buy their full season of chemicals
online, but it could have the potential to get there,” she
notes. “But a lot of our customers do come to us for testing
and knowledge they can’t get online.”
Indeed, e-commerce is slowly chipping away at in-store sales, but
dealers are hoping their knowledge of specialty products, ability
to test water, and friendly business practices will help to curb
this shift. So much so that half of the dealers surveyed said they
do not see the need for manufacturers to rebrand at all.
“We’re so hands-on with our customers and we are in a
specialty business, so the idea is they need our help,” says
Brad Schmoekel, sales manager of Ohio Pools & Spas in North Canton, Ohio.
Schmoekel, one of more than 350 survey participants, said that his
customer base is very loyal and consistently exhibits a need to
rely on his staff for chemicals. During the summer, he even has a
line out the door with people waiting to have their water
diagnosed, he explains.
Not all dealers see the rebranding as an unnecessary practice. In
general, Troy Derheim’s customers also rely on the staff to
recommend chemicals. But contrary to some of his peers, the
president of the Fargo, N.D., retail store Tubs of Fun, says
products with a modern look and clear language will appeal more to
consumers and build trust between him and his customers.
“A generic bottle seems generic. A label that’s more
appealing and easier to understand will build sales and people will
be more dedicated to [the brand],” he says. “Everything
you can do to bring the consumer to you and have them return is
going to help.”
Despite this clear divide between dealers, chemical manufacturers
are recreating their brands’ looks as a way to help bolster
sales, influence buyers, drive business and moderize.
After 15 years, King Technology redesigned its logo, slogan and
packaging in 2011 to do just that, says Lynn Nord, marketing
manager for the Hopkins, Minn.-based firm, and a survey
participant. As such, the company plans to update its design every
few years as a necessity.
“There is no doubt that consumers are doing research online
and they expect fresh new content,” she says. “By its
very nature, the Internet isn’t stagnant, and we can’t
be stagnant either.”
In essence, companies are counting on the refreshed look to add to
the loyalty experienced by so many dealers because it helps
consumers to draw a connection between the product and the seller.
In marketing, this concept is called double insurance, says Terri
Goldstein, CEO of The Goldstein Group, which recently assisted
Lonza with a
complete overhaul of its Poolife brand.
“Hopefully, you already have loyalty from the consumer to the
dealer, but how about loyalty to the brand [the dealer] offers as
well?” she asks.
As part of Lonza’s restaging, Goldstein conducted eight focus
groups involving consumers and dealers. The participants evaluated
Poolife’s packaging, language, logo and overall effectiveness
in communicating with the consumer. The process took nearly six
months, but in the end, the research pinpointed the changes needed
to update the product line.
The brand officially relaunched at the 2012 International Pool |
Spa | Patio Expo in New Orleans. The packaging taps into the
“fun” aspect of owning a swimming pool, a
characteristic not often associated with chemicals. By settling on
an image that evokes an emotional response, Lonza officials believe
customers will associate on a more positive level with their
“People want to be reminded of the joy they experienced when
purchasing their pool,” explains Gigi Carder, marketing
manager of Lonza’s Dealer Direct Division in Atlanta.
“What they see is sparkling blue water, family and friends.
Then we bring chemicals into it, and it becomes boring and
The language used on the packaging also is a concern to many as
manufacturers seek to connect with consumers and reinforce their
brand’s identity. Such is the case with SeaKlear, which also unveiled its new product line,
the Mighty Pod, at the Expo. The packaging includes clear and
specific symbols and language to help users understand the
product’s function, such as a heart for Weekly Pool Care and
a cross for Weekly Pool Cure. This may be the future design
inspiration for SeaKlear as the manufacturer considers a rebrand
that could also include a new naming convention for its existing
pool and spa products.
“We’re trying to get closer to the end user and Mighty
Pod is the first foray into that effort,” says Kate Bovey,
senior director of marketing and communication for the Bothell,
Wash.-based firm’s parent company HaloSource.
“We’re in planning mode for 2013.”
Some changes are less about the language and more about overall
aesthetics. Take Haviland Enterprise’s Proteam Spa packaging, for
example. After nearly 20 years of the same design, the Grand
Rapids, Mich.-based company replaced the product’s dated
bottle with one that resembled a shampoo bottle, with a pink,
pearlescent color. The strategy, says marketing manager John
Bereza, was meant to target the mid-50s female buying market, one
of the largest to purchase spa chemicals.
A simple explanation of a product’s purpose can also help
dealers who have had to downsize due to the economic climate but
who still have busy days during the summer months.
Having product with concise messaging on the shelves may reduce
some of the burden placed on a store’s staff, says
“In the current business climate, most retail stores have
fewer staff, so having something that is simpler is a big
help,” he says.