Selling Gun Care
Offer Range Of Products To Meet Every Gun Owner’s Needs.
Gun care products don’t go through fads and fashion trends the same way firearms do. However, changes in technology and the firearms customers purchase influence the sales of gun care products.
Ben Johnson, product development manager at Birchwood Casey, said strong sales of today’s modern sporting rifle have influenced the gun care market.
“We get a lot of requests for products specific to modern sporting rifles,” he said. “One thing we’ve seen an increase in is greases. For example, our RIG grease is an established product with a 50-year history, and it has been revitalized recently.”
Tom Buck, president of Clenzoil Worldwide, asserted new shooters and experienced shooters want different types of products. New shooters tend to desire products with multiple uses.
“This is also true if you go to the grocery store and get something to clean your kitchen,” he said. “The days when you bought different things to clean your sink, counters, cabinets and refrigerator are gone. Now people want to buy one product to do all those things. The new convert to firearms ownership takes the same expectation to gun cleaning. They want one product to do it all, just like they’ve been accustomed to with household products.”
Experienced gun owners have completely different expectations.
“The experienced gun owner has become more specialized in what he or she likes to do,” Buck said. “The shooter who still likes to participate in silhouette shooting, hunt, shoot sporting clays and other kinds of shooting is something of a relic. Shooters who own multiple firearms and have decades of experience seem to focus on very specific sports and activities. With that come more specialized needs in terms of gun care products.”
For example, the shooter who gravitates toward long-range silhouette shooting tends to look at products that remove copper fouling and keep the bore very clean.
“These shooters do very detailed, intensive cleaning because that’s what it takes to maintain consistent accuracy,” he said. “Sometimes they create their own concoctions out of several products.”
Shotgun shooters tend to like easy-to-use products.
“They seem to shoot more frequently than other shooters, and they seem to shoot more rounds than other shooters,” Buck said. “They look for something that lets them clean their guns quickly and easily.”
In general, handgun shooters aren’t as detailed as many other shooters about cleaning their guns.
“These shooters look for products that retain the reliability of their handguns — for longer use with minimal down-time for cleaning,” Buck said.
Otis Technology’s versatile MSR/AR Cleaning System is designed for use in
the field and on the bench — available in 5.56mm and 7.62mm cleaning options.
Don’t Miss Easy Sales
“One of the things we ask ourselves is: What can retailers sell that they’re not selling?” Johnson said. “Every retailer has a full breadth of cleaning products available to him. If a retailer is stocking the full gamut of products, I don’t think he’ll miss a lot of sales.” This is true of products such as brushes and other cleaning “hardware,” as well as solvents and products customers use up and have to replace.
Retailers who are stocking only new products, however, may be missing sales of the older “tried and true” products.
“Retailers shouldn’t be afraid to try new products and follow trends,” Johnson said. “But they also need to maintain a focus on core products that sell.”
One trend Buck has noticed recently is retailers who let customers go to the shelf and pick a product without making suggestions or helping the consumer choose the correct product to meet his or her needs. Some of these retailers try to drive sales by putting groups of cleaning products together on a shelf with brushes and other caliber-specific products, arranged by caliber.
“I think retailers who do that assume a new shooter who has, say, a 9mm handgun, will pick up one of everything on the shelf and drive sales,” he said. “However, all that does is keep the consumer from finding other things he isn’t necessarily looking for. It also wastes space and money. If you’re going to put the same products in several locations for different calibers, you’re investing in a lot of product to support those vertical displays.”
A more effective way to display gun care products is to separate cleaning products by category — such as greases, lubricants and rust inhibitors — and take the time to explain to the customer what he or she needs for a specific application.
“Once you have shown the customer what he needs for his specific firearm, move to the area where all the consumable products are located,” Buck said. “You can help the consumer compare them to one another and make an informed choice about the products meeting his or her needs.”
Birchwood Casey offers two versions of their display to equip dealers. The Maintenance
Center display (above) holds 17 top-selling products and the Deluxe Gun Care display
features the company’s full gun-care line.
Make Use Of In-Store Demos, Displays
Among the most effective tools for increasing sales are in-store demonstrations of gun care products.
“Even among seasoned shooters, I think there’s an intimidation factor when it comes to cleaning a firearm the correct way,” he said. “If a dealer has an opportunity to put on an in-store demo, he can overcome that. It comes down to familiarity with products; you need someone in the store who can explain why you need a particular product for a specific use.”
Don’t overlook refinishing products for both metal and wood, Johnson said.
“We have a refinishing guide that provides step-by-step instruction and tips on re-bluing of barrels and steel, as well as refinishing stocks,” he said.
Johnson said using manufacturer-supplied displays serve as a great help to dealers.
“A manufacturer’s display can be a one-stop shop covering the basics of what a shooter needs,” he said. “They also make setup and reorder easier on the dealer.”
Johnson said Birchwood Casey offers two versions of their display; one is the Maintenance Center display, which holds 17 top-selling products and the other is the Deluxe Gun Care display, which holds the full Birchwood Casey line, as well as product use guides.
One place retailers miss the boat on increasing sales is by packaging products together.
“It’s easy for a retailer to print up a notice on a bright piece of paper and laminate it,” he said. “As an example, list the most important products the customer needs to buy to clean his handguns, such as a cleaning rod, chemicals, patches, a wipe cloth and grease. Put the prices a consumer would pay if he or she bought each item individually, with the total. Then put next to it your store ‘package’: If the customer buys all of those items at the same time, he or she gets a 10 to 15 percent discount on everything. We don’t see enough stores do this; they allow too much à la carte purchasing to take place in the store, as opposed to packaging products together in this way.”
This kind of approach encourages customers to purchase items they aren’t quite out of yet, but know they’ll need in the future. This means more sales for less work on your part, and more dollars for your bottom line.
By Carolee Anita Boyles
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