New Hunters: The Crowd is Coming

“This is the most game-changing information we’ve had in the 10 years I’ve been here...”

You can turn those industry-favorable percentages into new sales by understanding the motivation behind these new customers. Aspiring hunters are 2.5 million of the 24 million.
You can turn those industry-favorable percentages into new sales by understanding the motivation behind these new customers. Aspiring hunters are 2.5 million of the 24 million.Mossberg

Picture the beach. That’s your store. Customers are the waves rolling in, and a big wave is about to reach the shore. It’s the 24 million people who want to buy their first firearm, according to new research from National Shooting Sports Foundation.

“This is the most game-changing information we’ve had in the 10 years I’ve been here,” says Jim Curcuruto, National Shooting Sports Foundation Research and Marketing Development Director.

The NSSF survey shows that 80 percent of the U.S. population approves of legal hunting, and 90 percent say it’s okay for other people to hunt. You can turn those industry-favorable percentages into new sales by understanding the motivation behind these new customers. Aspiring hunters are 2.5 million of the 24 million. Target shooters and protection seekers are also part of the mix. New hunters are more likely to lean toward long guns, while protection seekers favor handguns.

Make them feel welcome in your shop by offering everything they need in one place. Take it a step further by showcasing the collection in a way that says first-time buyers are welcome here.

“First-time gun-buyer packages borrow the rod-and-reel combo pack idea from the fishing market,” Curcuruto says. “If you’ve never fished before, all you do is pick that up and everything you need is in one easy package.”

Online shopping can offer the same “welcome newcomers” atmosphere with page design. Display two buttons on your homepage—one for first-time buyers and one for experienced buyers.

You should also provide links to classes for beginners.

“Use the 24 million study to tailor marketing strategies,” Curcuruto says. “Understand their perspective as customers so you can foster relationships with them.”

There is a wealth of diversity among these new buyers when it comes to race, age, and gender. Your sales pitch has to be just as diverse. While that shotgun a new hunter just bought could serve as protection, that’s not the new hunter’s main motivation. Protection could be a woman’s main motivation, so a discreet handgun along with concealed-carry guidance will go a long way in making her feel comfortable.

Also, keep your new audience in mind when preparing announcements. If you want a younger audience attending your Target Shooting 101 class, you better show younger people in the course brochure.

“We want people to see themselves in our ads,” says Shaun Phelan, Smith & Wesson sales and marketing operations director. “That’s why you’re starting to see younger people and seniors in marketing campaigns. That’s also why you’re starting to see more mentoring. When you realize there are 24 million new customers considering the product that keeps the firearms industry afloat, you’re motivated to harness those new customers by offering mentorships and other programs that embrace entry-level opportunities.”

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