By Jade Moldae
A lot has been said throughout this issue on how dealers (and the industry) can continue to expand sales to women — be it recruiting qualified women to leadership positions, making simple adjustments to foster a more welcoming environment, investing in mentorship opportunities and more.
In an effort to provide a “capstone” element to this issue, I queried a handful of women with a variety of experiences to get their thoughts on how the industry has succeeded in its efforts to expand sales to women and tips for continued refinement. Here are some common threads that developed:
A Look Past “Shrink It And Pink It”
The “shrink it and pink it” approach dominated the industry’s early attempt to capture sales among women. While it still has a purpose, many manufacturers have succeeded in developing options truly designed for women.
“When the market first opened up, there was a lot of pink items out there,” observed Tisma Juetta, NSSF regional member services manager. “There are still a few, and some ladies really appreciate this, but others view it as more of a novelty and not necessarily a necessity. A lot of manufacturers have done a great job providing products that not only look appealing to women but actually fit, are comfortable and work.”
Laurie Aronson, Lipsey’s president and CEO and NASGW chairwoman, identified a significant benefit, however, on the existence of pink products in the marketplace.
“Several years ago when manufacturers woke up and said, ‘Wow, women can shoot too,’ and came out with pink guns it was a pretty savvy marketing technique. Pink wasn’t exactly a color — it was a message. It gave permission to women out there, ‘Hey, I can buy a firearm as well,’ and this message has remained very strong,” she said.
Industry Has Taken Notice
Advancement in product development is one byproduct of the industry taking notice of the female shooter.
“The industry is seeing the reality women are a significant force and a demographic that can’t be ignored for the gun industry to thrive,” said Carrie Lightfoot, founder of The Well Armed Woman. “They genuinely desire to reach them and are beginning to design products, market to and create content to meet the unique needs of women — they’re recognizing women are different in more ways than just our bodies and this is thrilling.”
“Manufacturers have built and designed products for smaller frames, as well as providing some glitz and glam options for those ladies who like that sort of thing,” added Karen Butler, president of Shoot Like A Girl. “Fit, function and performance should continue to be the dominant traits of products for women.”
An important facet of expanding sales to women is being aware their individual wants and needs will vary. GLOCK’s Brandie Collins, inside this issue’s Everyday Marketing column, shared something everyone should keep in mind: “Not all women are the same, and not all women like pink or fit female gun-buyer stereotypes.”
Lightfoot holds a similar viewpoint and cautions against combining all women into a single category.
“When companies direct their marketing teams to reach women, they often have a singular picture of what a woman is: They cast women into what the media and society dictate as a ‘woman,’” she said. “The truth is the women’s market is older, diverse and multifaceted. Women gun owners won’t respond to a stereotype they don’t relate to and they don’t want to be grouped into an ‘all women’ category. Women want the industry to see them for who they are, not whom the industry dictates them to be.”
Win That “First Dollar”
In a welcome trend, the industry continues to refine its approach to winning sales from women shoppers.
“Ranges are starting to do their part by offering ladies-only classes, date nights and a selection of products that more closely align with the female demographic,” informed Bren Brown, owner of Frontier Justice — with a location in Lee’s Summit, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan.
Frontier Justice has focused on the small details to create a welcoming vibe for women.
“We offer an environment that exudes family — and this is appealing to women,” Brown said. “Our stores are clean and aesthetically pleasing; these details are important.”
Brown shared an in-store boutique serves as a way to set Frontier Justice apart from its competitors.
“Whether you’re a firearms enthusiast or not, we have something for every woman,” she added. “And, who knows? If she comes in to buy dresses, maybe she’ll become intrigued enough to eventually leave with some education and/or her own handgun. Modern feminism has missed firearms are the ‘great equalizer’ amongst the sexes. No woman should ever fear for her life — she can protect herself.
The sales floor serves as the gateway to a woman’s journey into participation in the shooting sports, Brown maintains training them well should be a top priority.
“My number-one tip would be to train the staff working the sales floor to meet any person who enters the door with respect and with their level of expertise in mind, but never to pass judgment on a lack of experience whether that client is young or old/male or female,” she said.
Similarly, Juett highlighted numerous factors will need to combine for a dealer to win “that first dollar.”
“Shops have adjusted their approach and are now seeing women for the serious shoppers they are,” Juett said. “One of the main things for dealers to consider: They need to understand the female dollar is a very precious one — she’s not going to give it to just anybody. Retailers and ranges need to give her a reason to not only spend that first dollar with them, but to find a reason for her to tell her friends so they’ll want to spend their dollar as wel
Our hope with this issue is it gave you some new ideas and encouraged you in your endeavors to reach women — as well as other underserved groups in the industry. We welcome any and all feedback on this special issue of Shooting Industry. Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.