5 Ways to Reach More Women Hunters
- February 7, 2018
- By Adam Preston
The influx of more women into hunting’s ranks has created both a positive and puzzling effect among many in the hunting industry over the past three decades. The positives are obvious: an expanding customer base that brings a unique need-set to businesses. The puzzling part of it has to do with learning marketing techniques that seem brand new. They’re not, and that’s what businesses needed to realize.
If you want to broaden your approach to the women’s hunting community, deploy these five tactics in 2018:
1. Know Who You’re Talking To
The majority of the growth in women hunters can be attributed to at least two generations of individuals who grew up in hunting families. Their dads and grandfathers hunted, and they learned at an early age that hunting is no longer a boys club. This bulk of these hunters are represented by three age demographics: 18-24; 25-34; and 35-44.
Buying trends show that women hunters are not only more educated than their male counterparts, they tend to be more shrewd in their buying decisions. According to a study by Time Inc., in the 25-34 age group, 37.5 percent of women have a bachelor's degree or higher, as opposed to only 29.5 percent of men.
2. Market Respectfully
By knowing more about the educational levels of this audience, you’ll know that condescending marketing ploys not only fall on deaf ears, they can also backfire on future marketing efforts.
Case in point: The blaze-pink laws that were enacted in several states over the past few years. In an effort to attract more women hunters to annual gun season, several mandatory blaze-orange states (Minnesota and Wisconsin, among others) passed laws to make way for pink-blaze exceptions. On its face, the idea — appeal to more women — was admirable. How some retailers went about marketing it, however, left a lot to be desired. The end result? Many women hunters turned off. Some were even offended.
According to a reader poll conducted by Sporting Classics Daily, 36 percent of women respondents said they thought blaze-pink clothing was sexist and has no business in the woods. About 20 percent of the survey respondents said they thought it was a good idea and would bring more hunters into the sport.
Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Doesn’t matter here. From a marketing perspective, it’s a matter of weighing the positives and negatives and learning how to bridge the gap between the two. The regulation itself might be a good idea — how you present it to your customers and/or how you attach it to your brand will make the difference between marketing success and failure.
“Companies slap a little pink on stuff and say it's a women's product,” said one survey respondent. “But most of it is not ergonomically designed for ladies. It's a marketing scheme that's more pandering than well thought out.”
In the end, it’s all about function over form. Does your product fall into that category? If not, you might want to rethink how you go about marketing it.
3. Emphasize Education
Educating your base — whether that’s fans, consumers or business partners — is a cornerstone for any successful venture. The same goes for those who want to attract more women hunters to their products or services. The numbers are growing to the point where no one in this industry can ignore them.
As of today, we have more than 3.1 million women gun-deer hunters and 1.1 million women bowhunters. There’s lots of opportunity here for right-minded business folks to educate these consumers on product trends, benefits and challenges.
This Realtree B2B blog reaches every segment of the hunting and outdoors industry, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question “how should I educate them?” You need to answer that question based on what services you provide and how your message can best be crafted to reach this demographic. It could be through website or social media content. It could be through your product manuals and hangtags. It could also be through product-benefit literature (“why do I need XYZ to improve my hunting experience?”).
Do some strategic planning, and you’ll be able to create an educational platform that not only attracts more women hunters, it will serve as a template you can use to drive the other ends of your business strategy.
4. Foster a Cause, Unite a Community
The team concept is not limited to that Good Ol’ Boys Club we referenced earlier. People, in general, have a strong affinity toward causes. We join clubs, meet as groups, attend functions all as part of our inner desire for a sense of belonging. And, while 37 percent of all hunters (men and women) list fun and relaxation as their top priority for going afield (Response Management, 2013), nearly 25 percent say they go hunting so they can share the experience with family and friends.
The statistics get more interesting when you break them down. Of the women surveyed, more than 39 percent said their No. 1 reason for increasing their bowhunting participation was linked to the fact that the sport allowed them to be more involved with their families (27 percent), friends (7 percent), and communities (5 percent).
5. Create a Family Environment
Most hunting-related businesses have cleaned up their acts over the past decade, but there are still some remnants clinging to Boys Club ways.
Retail establishments are no place for pin-up posters — even if they’re legitimate marketing materials provided by another business. If you have a shop, sales outlet or even a satellite office, ask yourself if your décor is suitable for a family visit. If it’s not, you run the risk of offending some customers — even if that client base is a small part of your overall pool. This isn’t a call for adopting Puritan ways. Every business situation is different. The key point is that your business approach should be no different than that, say, of the best family restaurant in town; the car dealership; the dentist’s office.
Create and foster a demographic-agnostic shop or sales approach … one that will operate the same (with the same efficiencies and results) regardless of who walks through that door. Over time, you will find yourself attracting more customers from every age, sex and experience demographic.
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