By Roy Huntington, editor, American Handgunner Magazine
The market is indeed returning to some semblance of normal, but this isn’t necessarily good — or even wanted. Instead of simply wringing your hands about the inevitable slowing of retail sales, counter-attack by digging up some new buying power in the form of those iPhone-toting Millennials. Believe it or not, many are interested in “the outdoors” but not necessarily interested in hiking to the top of Mt. Whitney or engaging in some form of high-intensity kayaking or other extreme sport.
Besides, they need someplace where there is a cellular signal ….
They don’t seem to be very interested in the big, classic names in our industry, either. Sorry big, classically named companies. But it’s the truth. If you say Remington or Winchester or Smith & Wesson many Millennials just glance up at you in-between checking their Facebook feed and wonder what you’re talking about: “Are those new bands?”
The Gen-X crowd (the Boomer’s kids, mostly)
may have some experience with shooting, hiking,
camping and such, but our younger kids today may not.
What do we do?
Many didn’t grow up around what we love, or at least their lifestyles are so different from ours as to keep hunting, shooting and much of the outdoors off their radar. The Gen-X crowd (the Boomer’s kids, mostly) may have some experience with shooting, hiking, camping and such, but our younger kids today may not. What do we do?
As the editor of Handgunner, I keep in close contact with our readers — who also happen to be your customers. I answer every reader email personally and take any calls from them if they want to chat. What I’ve learned from talking to some Millennials (including my own older-but-still-Millennial-daughter’s friends) is many are indeed interested in guns and shooting and even the “idea” of hunting — but it’s tough to catch their attention.
When you do get them to look up from their phones, you need to deliver the message in ways they understand, can apply to themselves (since we’re painting with a broad brush here, it’s all about themselves, right?), and make it both interesting, able for them to experience with a minimum of fuss, and ultimately — affordable. Then they may say something like, “Oh, okay. I’ll try it. Let me put my phone down for a sec, right after I live-stream a video about how I’m going to shoot a gun for the first time.”
But how do we actually attempt this seeming insurmountable feat?
I’ve heard from many younger people how they were made to either feel downright unwelcome at a range or gun show, or at best were simply ignored. On the other hand, I’ve also heard from many who told me they were welcomed and shown every courtesy and kindness while some “old guys” at a range helped introduce them to shooting. Those old guys knew how to talk to young people and put that skill to good use. Helping to assure that first experience wearing safety equipment wasn’t scary, walking them through range etiquette, sending some warm smiles and closely supervising a few close shots with a .22 may indeed light some fires inside. “Hey, it was fun!” they’ve told me, after a positive experience. “And they made me want to learn more and try it again.”
If you’re a retailer, does your counter staff at your store know how to make young people feel welcome? Can they relate to them and do they know the sorts of products they should be showing to them?
If you’re a manufacturer, does your marketing department know about the untapped market out there, and are they trying to learn how to reach them? Right now, the “outdoor” industry is invisible to many Millennials. What do we need to do to get them to look up from their phones?
And what will they see in us when they finally do?
There’s lots of goodies in the next Handgunner so make sure you tune-in.
Drop me a note anytime at email@example.com if you’d like to chat.