Hot tub industry pricing is a lot like the car industry pricing but from the pre 1990s (pre internet). There are a lot of gimmicks, inflated MSRPs, upgrades, options, etc. In fact, the whole buying process can be overwhelming and that is why doing some research ahead of time can pay big dividends and provide clarity to the whole process.
Let’s start with some basics about industry pricing. First off, most of the larger, more reputable manufacturers have several different lines to choose from which can be characterized by a good, better, best type progression. The different lines are designed to meet different budget levels for consumers. There can be some variance in pricing for these lines from one dealer to the next. For example, pricing for a particular make and model of hot tub can vary from dealer to dealer for the exact same hot tub. There are typically two reasons for this variance. First, one dealer may buy better than another dealer because they do more volume and get bigger discounts from the manufacturer. Second, dealers typically decide what they want to sell a particular hot tub for and set their own margins and retail prices. If one dealer has considerably more overhead than another dealer then they will likely charge more for that same hot tub. The aforementioned concepts are probably easy to grasp but it starts to get really confusing when you shop different dealers (carrying different manufacturers) meanwhile trying to make equitable comparisons between the different brands and models. This is because not only does the dealers margins come into play there is also a variety of other factors driving price within each brand such as the size of tub, quality of shell, plumbing, size of pumps, number of jets, and other unique features. Another challenge when comparing one brand to the next is that one brand’s “good” line may seem similar to another brands “better” line and you may end up purchasing a hot tub out of the “good” line because it seems like a less expensive, better value but in reality you just purchased a lower end spa. The point of this buyer’s guide is to give you the knowledge required to discern the differences and make an informed decision.
Price can also be dictated by brand awareness rather than quality or performance. Because most hot tub manufacturers have very little brand recognition the few manufacturers that do such as Jacuzzi or Hot Springs charge a heavy premium for their spas. These familiar brands are good quality and have good reputations however they sometimes pale in comparison to some of the other less known, premium brands out there that also build a great quality product and offer added value by giving more features and upgrades at the same or lower price point. These premium manufactures choose to gain market share by investing in the product and not by heavily spending on branding and marketing.
The last point we would like to make about price is to be weary and skeptical of purchasing hot tubs online or through big box retailers like Home Depot, Walmart, or Costco. A hot tub can be a $3000+ investment and something that should be researched and seen in person before purchasing much like test driving a car. HTI strongly recommends this because there are many ways manufacturers cut costs in order to hit price point as illustrated in the different subjects discussed in this buyer’s guide and purchasing sight unseen can be a recipe for buyer’s remorse. Ultimately, a hot tub is a specialty item and should require a meaningful amount of due diligence to avoid potential pitfalls.
HTI would advise you to purchase a hot tub from a good local dealer who carries a good brand and does their own in-house warranty service and customer service.