Business Blog

Simplifying the Complex Duck Hunting Market


Today’s waterfowling apparel market is anything but simple, yet fundamental values still forge industry leaders.


So says Clay White, director of marketing for Drake Waterfowl Systems. Since the company’s inception in 2002, the waterfowling business landscape has undergone many changes, yet Drake continues to thrive by heeding by heeding principles such as trust, passion and communication.


“Our primary message to retailers and consumers is best stated by our tagline: innovators in waterfowl hunting,” he said. “We are a waterfowl brand at heart, founded by two life-long waterfowl hunters, and our team is made up of waterfowl hunters. Our innovative products are born out of hunting experience and passion for the sport.


“We strive to keep our marketing messages authentic, and most of our sales and marketing strategies are determined internally around our conference table,” White continued. “Everyone on our team is comfortable pitching ideas, and we’ll build on the ideas as a group until we reach a result that makes us proud. We’ve found that ideas that get enthusiastic buy-in from our entire team are almost always successful.”


Drake’s strategy doesn’t end there, of course. The waterfowl clothing market is jammed with great brands, such as Banded, Cabela’s, Gamehide, Hard Core, Under Armour, Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shops, Mack’s Prairie Wings and others. White said Drake strives to stay ahead by learning as much as possible about the retailers that sell the company’s products and the hunters who buy those goods.


It’s simple, but knowing our retailer’s business and intimately knowing our own business has been the most successful retail sales strategy,” he said. “When we meet with a retailer, we’ve done a lot of legwork to understand their strengths and opportunities, and knowing our own strengths helps us work together to find new opportunities. As for consumer messaging, we just try to convey who we are through quality, innovative products. Our products often do the talking for our brand, and we use our website, our TV show and our social media channels to give hunters a glimpse into who we are and what we stand for as a brand.


That philosophy is reflected in the industry partnerships Drake has forged, particularly with the company whose camouflage adorns so many Drake garments.


Much like Drake, Realtree has built trusting relationships with retailers that have given these merchants confidence in stocking our products,” White said. “They know they can rely on effective consumer marketing efforts from Drake and Realtree to pull the products off their shelves. As a company, Realtree has been successful in finding opportunities to connect with outdoor enthusiasts at other points in their lives, not just when they are hunting."


“We’ve seen an influx of young hunters and lots of female hunters into the sport of waterfowl hunting in the past three years. This trend has been aided by the fact that camouflage is popular in more places than just the woods these days, and Realtree has been a big driver of that movement.”