In a surprising move, Utah based Bullfrog Spas is selling hot tubs through Costco.com (or at least temporarily). Bullfrog has been associated as a luxury, premium brand of hot tubs not typically sold through online channels but rather through their loyal and relatively large dealer network. Most premium hot tub brands (Hotspring Spas, Jacuzzi Hot Tubs, Sundance Spas, Caldera Spas, etc) do not sell online or advertise prices online. This is because they protect their dealers and their territories in exchange for a physical presence on the dealers’ showroom floors. In exchange the dealers give a commitment to sell, service, advertise, and promote the hot tub brands they carry in their local market (dealer territory). Offering hot tubs online especially through a warehouse retailer like Costco can cause ripples, disruption, and ultimately resentment in Bullfrog’s loyal dealer network. Moreover, it’s not to say that premium hot tub manufacturers stay completely away from online retailers because they don’t. In fact, many premium or large hot tub manufacturers do offer hot tubs online however they offer private label brands or sub-brands that differ from their dealer lines so that there is little to no conflict with dealer sales. For example, Cal Spas sells a line of spas through Costco.com called “OC Spas”. Watkins Wellness, who owns premium brands such as Hotspring Spas and Caldera Spas sells a line of spas called AquaTerra Spas through Costco as well.
Bullfrog Spas has ascended the ranks of hot tub manufacturing and positioned itself in the top 10 hot tub brands due to it’s unique and revolutionary engineering and design. They are also one of the most, if not the most, technologically advanced hot tub on the market. Adding this new sales channel, albeit good for Bullfrog’s exposure and sales, may ultimately hurt their dealer base and do more harm than good. This may also just be a test run for Bullfrog to see how the relationship and it’s repercussions go. It’s also important to note that this isn’t Bullfrog’s first foray with Costco and why this move may have been anticipated by some. In the past Bullfrog Spas dealers have done Costco Road Shows which are special 10 days events that take place in local warehouses around the country where the dealers sell several models of Bullfrog Hot Tubs through the local Costco warehouses. The dealers get allocated a small amount of space and are allowed to staff the event with their sales people for the duration of the event and spas are sold through the Costco registers at a discount to the normal dealer prices.
There are currently 6 models available on Costco.com spanning their lower-end X Series all the way up to their recently released luxury M Series. Prices range from the mid $5,000 on up to $15,000 depending on model.