Bowhunting Apparel Success Criteria
- July 9, 2015
- By Brian Lovett
The bowhunting apparel market always makes manufacturers rise early and stay up late.
Just ask Dave Larsen, vice president of Gamehide, a multi-faceted outdoor apparel company in Burnsville, Minnesota. He consistently sees new challenges in the hunting clothing market, and Gamehide has used many innovations to grow and expand its brand as times change.
“Before online, it was the rapid growth of the targeted box stores … doing their own private-label programs,” he said. “Some of these were once large customers and now hardly do anything outside of their own brands. Now, you also have (other large brands) who hit a home run in the jock and fitness world and leverage that to move into hunting with their big customers.”
Of course, as Larsen mentioned, the online retail market has been especially demanding for apparel manufacturers. Gamehide has stepped up its information exchange to stay ahead.
“Online consumer sales creates challenges for soft-goods sales since so many people like to touch, feel and try on apparel,” he said. “We have to work extra hard to give our retailers the tools and images needed to be successful with the online movement. Photos and even video are a big help.”
That meshes well with the company’s overall archery marketing plan, which strives to speak directly with dedicated bowhunters. Gamehide targets print and broadcast platforms that feature heavy or 100 percent bowhunting content.
“Bowhunters tend to be more hardcore and often influence the buying decisions of their less-serious friends,” Larsen said. He believes that strategy has improved sales, though it’s sometimes difficult to quantify who’s actually buying the company’s products because much of that happens through dealers and retail outlets.
Effective marketing also involves good listening, Larsen said. The company takes heed of customer feedback and constructive criticism to make sure it’s giving bowhunters what they want.
“We have even licensed some ideas from customers,” he said. “Hunters love to share ideas, and we definitely listen.”
Making sure garments satisfy hunters’ camouflage requirements is another critical piece.
“Absolutely,” Larsen said. “Realtree is a powerful, sought-after brand that not only is effective in the woods but looks great on casual lifestyle garments that sell throughout the year.”