The hunting, outdoor and firearms industry is changing—again. New faces, mainstream cross overs and digital marketing are exciting flashpoints that are driving new revenue opportunities, changing perceptions and redefining how companies are approaching their business development and revenue goals.
In this post, I picked seven brands that are changing the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry for the better. Either they are changing perceptions and opinions, making advancements in product design or tapping into new revenue streams through internet marketing. These factors are drawing new hunters and shooters, especially women (Source: Shooting Industry Magazine) and improving the industry’s image with the general public—which in the end, benefits everyone’s bottom line.
If you’re responsible for sales, marketing or business development in the hunting, outdoor or firearms industry, here are a few brands worth taking a closer look at. You may want to take some of these ideas into account for your next product release or upcoming brand marketing program.
1. Mountain Ops: Health and Wellness
Consumer healthcare is a $502 billion market that will grow by almost 50 percent to $737 billion over the next five years. This growth will be driven primarily by preventive health and wellness categories such as vitamins, nutrition, weight management and fortified foods and beverages—fueled by demand from health-focused consumers and the growing wealth of emerging market consumers. (Source: Accenture)
Hunters have always known the health benefits of staying in shape to hunt and to harvest lean organic venison or elk from the field, but few companies have capitalized on this burgeoning trend until now.
One such company is Mountain Ops. Mountain Ops offers outdoor performance nutrition supplements aimed at the outdoor athlete—or hunter who is looking to shed a few pounds. Their suite of products: Yeti, Blaze, Enduro and others help hunters prepare for the miles of hiking, running and the grueling pack-out (or drag) that consists of strapping 80+ pounds of meat on your back. They help hunters get prepared for hunting season by maximizing their gym time with supplements and energy products to fuel their hunts. Mountain Ops brings an interesting aspect to the outdoor market in that they focus on the health and wellness side of what it means to be a hunter.
2. Eva Shockey: Conservation
There is no doubt that Huntress Eva Shockey continues to bring a positive impression to the hunting industry. Field and Stream and Fox News recently said she is the “New Face of Hunting.” In a male dominated sport, Eva is attracting women to the hunting lifestyle and bringing attention to our principles of conservation. Her brand image breathes new life into the sport hunting category. Backed by Under Armour, Eva has the platform to propel the message of conservationism to skeptics in the general public, attract women and change negative perceptions.
3. Tracking Point: Wearable Tech
Wearable tech is a growing trend outside of the hunting/firearm world with buzz surrounding the Apple Watch, Google Glass and a plethora of fitness trackers. One such company in the firearm industry is Tracking Point. The new Shot Glass™—the world’s first weapon-integrated digital shooting glasses—allows you to see around corners, share your target practice, record your hunt.
“Wearable tech, designed to enhance the shooting and hunting experience, changes the way you experience the sport,” said TrackingPoint CEO John Lupher. “ShotGlass™ adds an element to hunting and shooting that is beyond belief.”
With Tracking Point blazing the path in wearable tech, you can expect other innovations in the future. I think it’s important for companies to focus on tech innovations as a way to keep up with the younger generation. I understand the importance of keeping hunting traditional (even though this is a tactical product), but there may be opportunities for companies to expand on tech offerings that appeal to different segments of the market who want these kinds of gadgets.
4. Benelli: Product Design
Benelli’s new 828U is eye-catching and worth note from a product design standpoint. Leave it to the Italians to design this one. The 828U breaks the mold on shotgun design and brings a new and modern look that positions its products as refined, innovative and cutting edge. Its sleek lines, metal contrasts and patented steel locking system looks and feels like something from the future. These new and improved attempts at gun design are motivating the industry to bring more style to the products they produce. The 828U will push other companies to improve their product designs, making the tools we hunters and shooters use look a lot more innovative.
5. Duck Dynasty: Virtues
I don’t think any other brand or group of people have done more for the hunting industry than Willie, Jace, Si and Phil. With over $40 million dollars in revenue in 2012, and the number one cable show in history, no one can deny that the Robertson Family/Duck Commander/Duck Dynasty brand has pushed hunting and our virtues more into the mainstream as they have. It’s not known how the industry as a whole has benefitted from Duck Dynasty—but I would bet their impact has been very positive for all of us.
6. Outdoor Edge: Innovation
Outdoor Edge continues to push the envelope on what’s possible with knife design. The SwingBlade combines a skinning blade with a gutting blade to create an all-in-one hunting knife that really stands out from its competitors and creates a much-needed tool when it comes to field dressing. Outdoor Edge is pushing the blade category forward in terms of functionality, utility and innovation by continuing to come up with new and creative ways to design a knife.
7. Beretta: Marketing
Beretta has made big changes in the way they have marketed their brand and products over the years. By utilizing an inbound marketing strategy, they have proven and validated the inbound methodology in the hunting, outdoor and firearms space. Much of the industry still focuses on traditional marketing practices, such as trade show, print and TV. Recent statistics have shown that these methods are rising in cost, losing their effectiveness and do not prove or create the necessary return on investment they once did. According to a recent case study by HubSpot, Beretta improved their conversion rate of organic leads to customers by 76%, attained a 15% conversion rate of social media visitors to customers, and drove 4,000 sales in a single day during Black Friday—all through their website that utilizes inbound marketing.
Beretta is improving the industry by showing that inbound marketing is a valid strategy for reducing and maximizing marketing costs, improving customer satisfaction, attracting talent, creating brand preference and helping marketers improve ROI.
In conclusion, these are just a few of the top brands I see that are changing and leading the industry to new heights. As companies and marketing teams struggle to figure out how to keep up with the latest trends, internet marketing tactics and product designs, one thing is for certain, as markets change, brands must change with them.
What brands do you admire or think are changing the industry for the better? Please post your comments below.