By Taylor Smithfield
“I just cancelled my order for a case of 30-round PMAGS!” user RavenG23 excitedly posted in a popular firearms discussion forum, just a day after President Trump’s surprising victory. “At least I don’t have to go on another ammo binge,” user TallWalking agreed. While conservative gun owners found their trigger fingers relaxing in response to election results, publicly-traded companies felt the hit with major drops in the U.S. stock market. However, shares rebounded as the industry entered a “normalized” market in 2017.
Conversely, panic buying declined for traditional gun owners after election night and increased for minorities and the identity-based community, according to media reports. Likewise, liberals and moderates have resorted to purchasing firearms (Black Friday’s record-breaking 185,713 background checks is telling). As threats of mass shootings and terrorist attacks have similarly motivated customers and will continue to do so, panic buying has understandably subsided for conservatives overall. Obama’s anti-gun/anti-industry message helped fuel sales in the industry for the past eight years, but in a shifting political climate, dealers may have to rethink their strategy in order to move product.
Supply Creativity, Demand Innovation
If sales are lower in 2017, we’re likely to see an increase of creative marketing and manufacturing.
“With the selling frenzy about to subside, I think product innovation will become increasingly important,” Sandy Chisholm, president of North American Arms, told Shooting Industry in the January 2017 issue (“Forecasting The 2017 Business Year”). While it will require an industry-wide effort to reimagine the way products are made and marketed as well as whom they’re being marketed to, it’s essential innovation take place at every level, including retail.
Truthfully, it’s better to think of this as innovating because you get to — not because you have to. With a wide-open four years ahead, the possibilities for the shooting sports industry are exciting. As women, minorities, Millennials and the identity-based community continue to inquire about firearms and self-defense (not to mention the breakneck speed of technological advancements), you’ll have to be ready to reach these groups where they are.
A Starting Point
An excellent starting point, in light of political tensions, would be to challenge some long-held stereotypes about the other side of the aisle. At least this is what Lara Smith, national spokesperson for The Liberal Gun Club suggests. “In the more conservative gun world, there is definitely a feeling that liberals hate guns,” she explained to the BBC this past December. “If you go into gun forums and discuss your politics, you are very clearly not welcome.” Libtard, or “liberal retard” is often one of the nicer jabs made toward the blue party, she says.
However, memberships to The Liberal Gun Club have increased by 10 percent post election with a strong base represented in all 50 states. In fact, there is a surprising amount of Second Amendment supporting, gun-toting liberals out there actively challenging stereotypes. A quick glance at The Liberal Gun Club’s forum and you’ll find members joking about letting off post-election steam at the gun range, sharing their Second Amendment reading list or making passionate arguments against an MSR ban. With usernames like LGBTGunner and TrueTexan, you’re in the company of some open-minded firearms enthusiasts, many of whom may feel misunderstood outside of their circles.
The Pink Pistols, a gay gun rights organization whose motto is “Pick On Someone Your Own Caliber,” has forum discussions on who’s attending the SHOT Show, preferred method of carrying and how to productively engage with gun owners in conservative camps. They also provide a map of LGBT-friendly firearms trainers on their website (on which your business could be an addition) and would gladly shop at your gun store if they felt welcome with the right marketing message.
Your Core Message
With an expanding subset of potential customers in our more liberal brothers and sisters, it’s important to review your marketing to see if it reaches beyond your standard base. Is there an atmosphere of acceptance and patience for all customers within your store? Do you carry products that will appeal to non-traditional shooters? Are customers likely to hear your sales team making jokes about people who voted differently than them? How would your team treat a soldier, young college kid, black man, cop, gay couple, Latina woman, camo-clad teenager and a man in a business suit? The answers to these questions may very well determine how successful you are at not only increasing sales, but expanding the Second Amendment base.
These next four years will be defined by your ability to challenge stereotypes, broaden your customer base, change mindsets and grow your business in a truly innovative way. In order to successfully reach across the aisle, you’ll naturally need to experiment with messaging. However, at its core, your message should rely on two key components: peace and protection.
Regardless of how our fellow citizens voted in 2016, everyone is interested in protecting themselves, their loved ones and their rights, as well as creating peace. Now, not everyone instantly thinks of a firearm when they think of peace, but it’s a perfect time to start discussions like this in your store.
XS Sights Point-Of-Purchase Display Benefits Dealers
XS Sights has introduced a point-of-purchase display to dealers who support the company. This versatile display can be placed on a counter or mounted on a wall, giving customers the opportunity to see the XS Big Dot front sight mounted on a blue gun.
“Many Big Dot converts share that seeing the product for themselves in a dealer’s store is what closed the sale,” said Tanya Gorin, XS Sights commercial sales manager. “XS wants to help dealers provide this same experience to their customers. Dealers can qualify to receive the display for free by reaching a qualifying dollar value of XS purchases.”
For more information, call (888) 744-4880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.