Critical Intelligence

Published on June 26th, 2015 | by Chris Cheng

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Diversity: The Next Big Opportunity

When I came into the industry in 2012 it was in the middle of the AR15 rising to become America’s Number One rifle. However, in 2015 we’re starting to see that sales line flatten. Another trend we’ve seen is the tremendous success in growth of the the women’s demographic in all aspects of firearms and shooting.

These data points show where we’ve been.

Hockey player and NHL Hall of Famer, Wayne Gretzky, offers great advice, “Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

It seems our industry often tends to skate back to where the puck has been, to once again focus on the demographic known euphemistically as “the old white guy.” That’s fine, but if we really want to expand our reach and bring in new shooters, gun owners, and second amendment advocates, we must change our strategy.

The puck is moving toward diversity.

Throughout its history, America has been recognized as a country of immigrants; a beacon of hope and promise. So it’s interesting and informative for us to think about how firearms fit into the context of immigrant mindset.

Immigrants don’t come to America to shoot guns. People come to America for economic opportunity, better jobs, and better lives. They come here to experience the freedoms we have that are available nowhere else in the world. One of them … an important one … but just one of them, is the right to keep and bear arms.

Using that as a baseline, we can then understand most immigrant families do not have traditions of firearms ownership, hunting, sport shooting or personal defense. Some consider this a problem, but wise business people like the readers of FFL Unleashed will see the opportunity in it.

These immigrants represent new markets for firearms, ammunition, accessories, services, instruction, and range time sales growth. For the wider industry they represent the opportunity to grow the appreciation for the second amendment, hunting and the shooting sports as a whole. This is an entirely new and expanding demographic that can become multigenerational customers and lifelong second amendment advocates.

There are three actions you as dealers and we as the industry can utilize to extend the market to the new immigrant demographic:

First, we must create more targeted messaging towards ethnic groups. To gain credibility and acceptance among these groups, our message needs to resonate with the mindsets they bring with them.

Second, we need to sponsor more and attend more diversity events. One great example is the NSSF First Shots program. While new immigrant demographics represent a great opportunity to optimize your business, learning to connect with them and make them feel a part of such a historied and traditional American lifestyle will require a new way of thinking on our part.

Finally, we need to include, even highlight, people of color in firearm ads, media articles, and other marketing collateral. This needs to be done carefully and thoughtfully, as not to make it seemed forced or exclusionary of existing customers.

To hear Chris Cheng’s Diversity Speech from NSSF Industry Summit 2015.

Chris Cheng is History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 Champion and former Google, Inc employee. He is a professional shooter for Bass Pro Shops and Leupold & Stevens. Cheng is the author of “Shoot to Win,” a book for the new shooter.

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