As 2017 comes into focus, the firearms industry finds itself at a compelling crossroads. In light of the recent election cycle, an industry that could once sell almost anything, based on a justifiable consumer-based fear of scarcity, will need to find new strategies in 2017. Of course, there will always be a handful of blue states pushing their infringement of the Second Amendment to new extremes, but even their impact will be limited based on federal mandates from the first Republican-controlled Government in ten years. Sadly, the days of “selling whatever we make” are behind us. This means that in order to sustain the success it has enjoyed over the past decade, in 2017 the Firearms Industry must set its sights on three marketing targets:
Increase Marketing Spend Towards Promoting Accessories
While the Firearms Industry raked in sales in 2016, accessories like gun safes, optics, and concealed carry accessories rode the wave of consumer uncertainty, too. However, we at Fidelitas Development project that accessories manufacturers could enjoy an almost-as-good 2017. Many gun owners maxed out their wallets on actual firearms during an election cycle that looked like it was going the other way right up until the results came in. Now, firearms accessories stand to take up the lion’s share of the firearms consumer’s wallet allotment for shooting, hunting and home defense. There are a lot of rifles and handguns still sitting in the cases that they came in while their owners pay off their credit cards before continuing to spend within the category.
This presents an enormous opportunity for brands with strategic partnerships in place. For example, an optics company could partner with a firearms manufacturer on a cross-promotion that introduces that optics company to all of the gun manufacturer’s new customers. Likewise, many consumers still need to acquire safes for their firearms, and will make concealed carry accessories a priority once they pursue and acquire their permits. Firearm safety campaigns should be successful for the safe manufacturers and retailers that execute them well.
Accessories should be featured in the majority of retailers’ point of purchase displays and certainly deserve more lead space on websites then what they might typically be given. Brands that white-label accessories will stand to benefit from brand loyalty around the firearms they just sold and should be prepared to market themselves in such a way as to take advantage, even if they’re not producing a single accessory in-house.
Engage New Shooters
There’s never been more women involved in shooting, and that’s a great sign for the industry moving forward. More and more female-centric products in accessories, concealed carry, and apparel are popping up in the market place. Thanks to marketing tools like Facebook, it’s never been easier to target and engage female shooters for these products. A majority of first time gun owners are female, and manufacturers and retailers should plan their marketing messaging and targeting accordingly.
Likewise, it’s important to remember the importance of passing our pastime on to the next generation. Boys and girls everywhere must be taught gun safety by their gun-owning parents and family members, and as they come of age it’s equally important to ingrain them in the sport.
Gun manufacturers and retailers may find themselves moving an increased number of youth model rifles and shotguns in 2017 as long-time gun owners introduce their children to shooting. This is a tremendous opportunity for the Firearms Industry and its’ retailers to build customer loyalty. Event marketing is a strong play here – you’ll see Fidelitas Development clients pursuing co-op opportunities to engage customers and their families at the brick-and-mortar level with educational events and promotional items to help build brand recognition among the next generation of shooters.
Pursue Advancements in Technology Like Never Before
Cutting edge product advancements will be the best way to get the industry’s most avid customers ready to add to their collections. Brands that leverage high quality video production to showcase these new products will separate themselves from the pack when it comes to communicating those advancements to consumers.
There’s plenty of room for more innovation; It seems that smart technology hasn’t even scratched the surface of its potential within the Firearms Industry. Even though innovation and implementation can be challenging, manufacturers that listen to their customer bases and give relevant feedback to their teams in product development have a chance to separate themselves from the pack in the coming years.
The pursuit of greater technology can’t be relegated to R&D departments, though. Marketing leaders in the firearms industry must push ahead for a better experience for customers shopping online, and for a more efficient use of customer data. Brands and retailers that put to work the data they often receive – but neglect to analyze – will stand out this year. That means more personalized content and an approach of quality over quantity when it comes to engaging consumers.
The rule for the marketing industry at-large in 2017 also goes for the Firearms Industry: the retailers and manufacturers that best simplify the buying process will win.
The outlook for the firearms industry may not be as bright as it once was, but there are plenty of positives to take advantage of between now and the next election cycle. Want to have a conversation about your brand’s marketing targets in 2017? Contact Fidelitas Development to get connected and set a time to talk shop!