The outdoors industry is well aware of the truism that if it wants to tap the wallets of hunters and anglers than it first must plumb their minds.
And few are as good at cracking the skulls of sportsman then Fernandina Beach, Florida-based Southwick and Associates. This survey and subsequent analysis firm’s on-going electronic-based questionnaires delve into the most minutiae of details.
Though clients spend big bucks to learn what Southwick uncovers the firm does offer up interesting teasers that do point in the direction where hunters and anglers are willing to travel in order to leave their respective credit card numbers in their wake.
Among Southwick’s most recent findings include the detail that AR-platform rifle buyers are not only younger but also are more ethnically diverse than have been – and are – buyers of other long gun forms.
These two noteworthy points reinforce what other findings suggest, the hypothesis being that today’s veterans returning to civilian life are familiar with AR-platform rifles and feel comfortable in owning and using them. This, in much the way returning veterans of World War I took up Springfield and Enfield Pattern rifles while World War II veterans believed that nothing beat the M1 Garand or the Colt Model 1911 pistol.
Also, today’s AR-platform rifle buyers are spending more on various uses for their firearms as well as visiting the gun range more frequently, says Southwick.
In tracking other data collected by its exhaustive surveying methodology, Southwick found through its most recent data-collection that just shy of 84 percent of the hunters it contacted said they chased deer: obviously no big surprise there.
However, Southwick’s surveying techniques do show that based on percentages, almost as many hunters now go after feral hogs/wild boar (10.4 percent) as is the number who chase wild turkeys (10.5 percent). And even more hunters pursue predators than either turkeys or hogs; 13.6 percent, based on Southwick’s surveying strategies.
Southwick even goes so far as to pluck the grains of brand popularity among both anglers and hunters. For instance, Southwick found that the top handgun ammunition brand is Winchester while the most frequently purchased broadhead is made by Rage and the favored clay target is White Flyer.
Interesting stuff for a deer camp argument, for sure, but of immense importance to manufacturers who need such data in developing sales and marketing campaigns.
Of importance to the end users of the products that outdoor-related companies make and retailers sell is our buying habits; which in good economic times and bad economic times remain surprisingly stable, says Southwick.
“In recent years, sportfishing and hunting have remained resilient. During the time of recession (2008-2010), sportsmen and women still purchased licenses and our industry fared better than many others,” says a Southwick note on the subject.
“Economic shock caused many people to reconsider their hobbies and consumption habits and to look for greater value. After re-evaluating what’s important to them, fishing and hunting often rose to the top.”
And that core importance was taken up by state fish and game agencies which by and large did not throttle back on programing and providing opportunities, says Southwick.
Consequently, hunting and fishing license sales increased after “long periods of decline,” said Southwick.
“Though not all sectors in our industry fared equally well, our industry did better than many other parts of the U.S. economy,” Southwick said.
Thus, what a hunter, shooter or angler is likely to find on a store shelf is owed in more than a little measure to the advanced scouting work of survey takers and data analyzers; that is, so long as manufacturers and retails don’t turn a deaf ear to what the statisticians uncover about us outdoors people.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn