Doubling net sales (say 100 bags) with a 5-10% mark up over cost is far less profit than half the sales (50 bags) at 150% over cost. Do the math. Companies are supposed to be profitable, not just be a conduit for money exchange. I seriously doubt they are marking up 150% after mining, transportation, labor, etc. etc. are taken into account.
I don't think substrates could be too much cheaper and still be profitable, especially considering how niche of a market this is. If it were more profitable to sell them cheaper, chances are, they'd be sold cheaper. You're basically saying that the companies are dumb - I doubt this is the case.
I have to disagree and ill tell you why.
Go to your local Super Wal Mart, Go to the Fish Department and Look at the "River Stones" they sell for tank use, a small bag maybe a dozen stones, is like 3.47, The walk out into Lawn and Garden, Look at the Smooth landscaping Rock they sell, 50lb bag is 3.87. Rocks look almost EXACTLY alike. Same thing with gravel, Natural brown gravel 25lb bag Made for fish tanks,10.87 Landscaping pea gravel Bigger bag but more natural coloring 3.47(i know just bought 2 of the latter).Why the higher cost of the Polished river stones for tanks compared to the SAME rock for landscaping?
Another Example, Their was a company that Made Both Play sand and SW aquarium sand, Both were Aragonite, Both came from the SAME PLACE and were EXACTLY the same sand, One was put in a bag and called White Play sand(i believe the brand name was South Down) AND the other was put in a Different bag and call Aragonite Sand. The play sand bag said NOT for fish tank use, BUT it came from the exact Same Place and was treated the EXACT same way as the Aragonite sand, the difference the Play sand cost 3 bucks for 50 lbs the Aragonite sand cost 18 bucks for 20 lbs.
I do agree businesses are there to make money, But lets face it Most of the Stuff that is "Made for Fish Tanks" you can find the SAME thing cheaper.There is a Place in Toledo Ohio called Stone Select that Sells Gravel extremely cheap, 80lbs for like .60(and they have FAR more choices in "Look" than your typical LFS) because it is priced by the ton(don't remember exact cost been a long time since i was there) I got Lace rock for my SW tank cost me 40.00 bucks if i had bought Live rock same amount would have been over 300. Point is their is a line between Making money and Ripping people off! And Many of these company's cross that line EVERY day and nothing is done about it.
I do agree that ADA Aqua soil is more than likely a little more costly to make, but i still feel that the product could be sold cheaper and still be profitable.
No companies are not Dumb But the do count on the fact that the Average Consumer IS. Or at least that the Average Consumer is to Lazy to Look and realize that they can find the same thing FAR cheaper. Especially if your looking a Gravel, Just called Stone Select Glacier Pea stone is 1.45 Per TON(if they are Selling it at 1.45 per ton how much do you think it cost them per Ton? maybe .10 to .50?), as apposed to a 25lb bag of Aquarium Gravel for 10.87. Marketing rip off is all it is!