Serving Diverse Clientele

Big-game hunters aren’t all cut from the same cloth, and it’s important to serve their varying needs effectively.

Serving Diverse Clientele

Big-game hunting in North America may be seasonal, with the possible exception of wild pig expeditions, but many of those who hunt big game think about it and buy products year-round to help them be more successful in their pursuit. 

The sales dynamic involves two distinct groups of customers, one seasonally motivated and the other steady, depending upon the level of commitment of the individuals involved. 

For example, seasonal hunters are those who go deer hunting or something like that once a year with their friends. For these folks, the hunting experience is as much a social activity as it is a strict hunting experience. They don’t even think much about hunting most of the year but are quite focused as the season approaches. Expect them to spend most of their hunting-related funds on accessories and ammunition since they typically have a deer-hunting rifle or shotgun rig and use it throughout their lives. 

The hardcores, in contrast, are always looking for something to expand their effectiveness and spend all year studying the products that can help them improve their game. They are constantly looking for an “edge” to help them bag the trophy of a lifetime. This group also buys the accessories and ammo needed for the hunt itself, as well as new rifles, scopes, etc. to get the job done. 

In other words, we’re talking about hardcore hunters and incidental hunters. These two groups are substantial in both size and buying power. Yet, the triggering mechanisms and strategies are quite different for each type of hunter. 

For the incidental hunter, price point and ease of use are important. For hardcores, performance is the name of the game and price point is secondary, if applicable at all. 

Fortunately, one set of strategies and tactics for answering the needs of one group doesn’t preclude serving the other. It’s possible to address both simultaneously and successfully. Here is where understanding the larger trends in the industry and reacting to them in the context of the local customer base comes into the equation. 

For example, the evolution of the “tactical” mindset in function and aesthetics of recent decades has spilled over into the big-game hunting world. Many of the hottest selling big-game hunting rifles now are not much more than bolt-action versions of AR designs. This is because of the sea change to high-performance, long-range equipment to address changes in the ways big-game hunting is done. 

Even in areas where short-range hunting can be successful, hunters are stretching their reach when they take shots in order to hit animals across open fields or along power line cuts, for example. 

Years ago, one or one-and-a-half minute-of angle accuracy was sufficient. Now, credible new rifle models combined with high-performance scopes and ammunition deliver groups half that size, or better. The bullets and loaded ammo to achieve that kind of performance are dominating discussions among hunters. 

Although the 6.5mm Creedmoor triggered that phenomenon a number of years ago, the Creedmoor is now becoming passe, having been upstaged by the various Precision Rifle Cartridges and their ilk. All of the rifle makers offer at least some long-range, high-performance models. Here is where knowledge of local clientele comes into play, because concurrently there also exists a market for more traditional big-game hunting rifles. 

Even within the more traditional designs, the glossy, wood-stocked models are now in the distinct minority, having given way to the synthetic-stocked, non-reflective rifle. Both basic black and camo finishes are common among these models, most of which are at the lower price points. 

As has been the case over time, the cream of overall sales focuses on accessories to the basic firearm itself. Obviously, when it comes to long-range, big-game rifles, good scopes are a must. The variety of scopes on the market now can seem daunting when it comes to figuring out what to stock, promote, etc. Again, knowledge of the local customer base is critical. 

When it comes to scopes, the range of magnification, types of reticles and overall size and weight come into the equation — and that’s after deciding what the price point(s) should be. When in doubt, go for higher magnification ranges with reticles that at least make it easier to hold for bullet drop and wind. Lighted reticles are pretty much required for the harder-core clientele. 

Among the high-performance big-game hunting rifles, there are two major sub-categories: lightweight rigs for mountain hunting and heavier rigs to maximize long-range performance. Being able to show and discuss the attributes of each can go a long way to selling the right rig to a specific customer. The hardcores already know what they want and need, while the seasonal hunters need some help. 

Here is where hands-on experience in the store trumps any kind of digital presentation, which means it is a great way to play to strengths and make sales. 

Another thing that is rapidly growing in popularity is the adjustable synthetic stock. This is because some of the sighting systems require the user to be able to adjust where the eye is relative to the sight. Bigger and more powerful scopes call for the ability to adjust the rig to the individual shooter, since different hunters have different body dimensions. 

These things aren’t just part of the high-performance phenomenon; they define it. Little things mean a lot. 

For example, if a customer buys a long-range rifle, he or she definitely needs to have a rangefinder and wind gauge — an anemometer to be precise. Also, the customer needs to have high-grade ammo that performs at the longer ranges to make sure that the hit results in putting the game animal in the bag, so to speak. 

For the seasonal hunter, it may be something as mundane as a pair of electric socks, some good, all-around ammo or license holder. 

The point is that big-game hunting can result in bigtime sales for those who have the right stuff on hand at the right time. Be prepared.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.