Firearms industry research proves women are the fastest growing segment in the shooting sports and personal defense markets. Combined with American socio-economic studies that show women harbor significant financial and influential control in the family, you’ll quickly realize embracing “girl power” will optimize your firearms and accessories business.
How can you draw more women into your business, entice first-timers and drive sales? Here are 16 ways to become a female-friendly firearms industry business.
- Clean up: If you’re one of the many businesses that think firearms and shooting are all important, reconsider. All customers, especially women, are put off by a dirty, unorganized environment. Caring about your business by keeping it clean and enticing, allows customers to perceive you as a top-end business that cares about its reputation and customers.
- Create a women’s section: Even if you don’t have a large inventory of women’s products, give gals their own space and some female-friendly choices, but don’t go all pink camo on us. Simply place signage that says “Women,” and place products you recommend for them in the section – as well as general merchandise areas.
- Learn what women want: Review data collected by organization like the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), Responsive Marketing, Southwick Associates, conservation organizations and others. They are treasure troves of info. For instance, NSSF recently reported semi-auto pistols are the most popular gun purchase by women.
- Include women in promotions: Place posters/signage of women shooting, with firearms or hunting throughout the facility. Forgo the posters with scantily clad gals. Focus on great images of competitive shooters or hunters. All pro staffs include women. Use the company’s promo products showing the gals in action. Consider printing out data sheets or infographic related to women. A great data-sheet example is the “Girl Power” infographic from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Include women or women’s products in advertising too.
- Offer a ladies room: Nope, we’re just not coming back if you don’t understand we want a restroom just for gals – where the toilet seats are down. And, keep it clean.
- Hire women: Female staff, range officers, instructors or firearms specialists speak loudly to female customers and put them at ease. Gals also understand the female psyche and can make recommendations based on their experiences and knowledge, building buyer confidence.
- Work on your welcome: Welcome your customers, especially gals. Their entre is their first impression. Make a good one. Simply make them feel comfortable by saying “hello” to let them know you’re available to help or answer your questions.
- Move the boys club: If Bob, Bill, Eddie, Ted and Colin are all in the shop every Saturday morning and most evenings after work and hang around the door, counter or register, move the boys elsewhere. I’m a pretty tough cookie, but even I don’t like having to break through a bunch of guys telling stories to ask a question.
- Forego assumptions: When a man and woman enter the shop, don’t assume the guy is the buyer. He might not be the purchaser. Talk only to the man, and you can and will, lose sales. I’ve walked out of many a shop because of the slight. Don’t assume every woman is a first-timer or knowledgeable. Get to know your customers. Friends do business with friends.
- Understand female factors: Different physiques, motivations and cultures influence women’s needs and purchasing habits. The biggest, baddest handgun isn’t the right choice for a gal shooting for the first time. And, that 3 1/2-inch 12-gauge shotgun probably needs to stay on the rack. Make smart recommendations to build customer confidence, skill and desire to shoot/practice.
- Clean up the language and snide remarks: Plenty of women have heard colorful language and off-color jokes. Some gals might even cuss a little too. But, foul language or sexist remarks have no place in your business. Comments like, “Hey little lady, how ‘bout this cute little .22 with the pink grip?” is not only unwelcome, it’s off-putting.
- Become family friendly: If Mama and Grandma say the kids can shoot, they can shoot. If they say no, chances are the kids aren’t participating. If Mama or Granny is learning to shoot, they probably want to teach, at least firearms safety, to the kids in the house. So, encourage gals to come into the business with the kids. That doesn’t mean stocking toy guns. It means welcoming the women and kids and offering educational and hands-on opportunities that ensure responsible firearms ownership and handling.
- Focus on a good defensive plan: Female gun owners cite self/home defense and the No. 1 reason for firearms purchases (NSSF infographic). So, feed into that desire and the needs that result from a self-defense purchase, such as education and training.
- Implement female-friendly events: Women should not learn to shoot from a boyfriend and/or husband, in my opinion. Too often tension leads to a poor experience. Offer women a friendly and fun learning atmosphere, ladies-only instruction or seminars like “An Intro to Handguns for Gals.” How about a ladies night or starting a gals shooting club?
- Cater to couples: For those who like to learn from or shoot with the man/men in their lives or, consider offering couples events or even couples’ specials.
- Get social online and in person: Put a “Ladies Choice” tab on your website or start a gals group through your Facebook page. Use social media to highlight women, women’s events and gear. Also consider a community open house for women. Serve some refreshments and invite gals to drop in, look around, ask questions and bring friends.
Yep, gals love roses on Valentine’s Day and jewelry on their birthdays. More and more, we’re also loving firearms, ammo, accessories and shooting club memberships on any occasion. So, don’t ignore or forget us. A little retail love can go a long way toward bolstering your bottom line.