Consumer Segmentation: Revisited

Take A Personal Approach To The Heart Of
The Consumer And Win Their Business

By Rob Southwick & Cody Larrimore

Howard Communications

Successful manufacturers and retailers understand consumers are not all the same — with differing motivations, needs and preferences. Understanding the unique segments of our industry’s consumer base — and how their motivations, interests, preferences and tastes vary from segment to segment — is key to developing the right new products and implementing effective marketing/advertising programs.

But, who are our unique consumer audiences and how can we approach them? Companies will often define consumers by their specific firearm-related activity, such as waterfowl hunters, sporting clay enthusiasts and those in the self-protection markets. However, through research, we know firearm owners who enjoy the same activity often don’t share the same motivations and product preferences. Therefore, brands may miss the mark if they decide to target consumers based only on the anticipated use of their new firearms.

Last year, to help the industry understand consumers’ true motivations and preferences, in partnership with NSSF, Southwick Associates identified the eight consumer segments that comprise the U.S. firearms and accessories market. Contrary to how some companies categorize consumers, this report did not define the segments by physical features (i.e., female, Hispanic, millennial) or how consumers use their firearms (i.e., for hunting, protection, target shooting). Instead, each segment shares a common set of motivations for wanting to buy a firearm and its preferred styles and features.

For example, some consumers want independence — desiring to rely only on themselves for safety. This motivation drives them to buy a firearm. Once in a buying mode, they determine complete reliability and ease of use are the most critical features needed — trade-offs are not acceptable in this case, and price is of little concern. Revolvers and other easy-to-operate semi-auto handguns sell best to this segment, which we titled Debbie Defense. Meanwhile, those in the Social Shooter segment are all about having fun with friends. Technical specifications bore them, and price is an important factor. They’ll select the best MSR or shotgun for the money as long as it enables them to enjoy multiple forms of target shooting (while at least appearing competent) with their friends.

The Heart Of The Issue

The profiles for each of the eight segments provide significant details about their motivations, preferred features and accessories, shopping habits, sources of information and much more. Understanding each segment’s unique needs and preferences will help your business in these three ways:

• Refine your communication and advertising initiatives to speak to the heart of targeted consumers. Connect your brand to their lifestyles and personal needs.

• Improve new product development efforts while better defining the product mix.

• Merchandise products better at retail for an easier shopping experience and faster decision making.

Secure More Sales

Successfully applying consumer segmentation insights will encourage more customers to pick up the product you’re offering versus those by your competitors. Whether you use these new information resources or develop your own segments be sure to speak to the core motivations and needs held deep within your targeted customers to help secure better sales and growth.

A full report describing the eight unique segments in detail is available from Southwick Associates. For more information, contact Nancy Bacon, Southwick VP, at Discounts are available to NSSF members.


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