Zombies are Dead! So What will be the Next Big Thing?

By Suzanne Wiley published on in Camping & Survival

I know plenty of you never want to hear or read the word zombie again. Even though the fad seems to have passed, gun gear companies are still releasing zombie-killing related items. However, the idea is tired and played out. The first wave of products were actually pretty cool—exploding zombie targets, Black Dawn Magpul zombie AR-15 furniture, and EoTech’s illuminated biohazard reticle. This second wave where companies are slapping zombie green on anything has me wondering me if their marketing teams have joined the walking dead. Some of those companies missed the boat. We’re just not buying into it anymore.

Zombies are so 2011, boring and played out.

Zombies are so 2011, boring and played out.

Richard Johnson points out in his article, The New Gun Culture, the changing face of gun owners. It is not just hunters and rednecks anymore. If you ask me, he’s stating the obvious. Gun owners are all of us—no matter what you look like, if you have a high-profile desk job, or work in a tattoo shop for a living. Johnson says that gun companies need to keep up with these new gun owners and market to them. An advertisement featuring two men walking in a field with a shotgun and a coon dog will not appeal to the black rifle crowd. Apparently, zombies don’t get them off either. At least, not anymore. I hear more and more complaints about how zombies make gun owners look stupid. I get it.  Johnson says that if companies do not keep up with current trends they “will not survive.” So, what’s next?

Like anything, guns don’t sell themselves. When a manufacturer releases a new product, they take out advertising, debut it at SHOT Show, make press releases, and send it to gun bloggers for T&E to raise interest. It is a way to create buzz about the product so consumers want to buy it.

Innovation drives the firearms market, but when there is not much innovation happening, companies feel forced to find a way to sell their products or tank. This is where gimmicks come in.

Gimmicks are nothing new. Companies have used them for years. Usually when you hear the word gimmick you assign it a negative connotation, however gimmicks are simply features added to products that do nothing to their function, but intends to make products appear more attractive to the consumer. This could simply be shiny, eye-catching packaging.

Coupons, buy one get one free, and free shipping offers are also forms of gimmicks. Offering a gimmick on a gun, like

Taurus’ yellow-framed 738 TCP helps sell when innovation is lacking. Despite the horrible comments the gun received when we promoted the sunshiny compact pistol, we have sold 34 of them since June 2012. Though that may not sound like a lot, it translates to 50 percent of sales of any of our regular, non-yellow handgun sales. For something so detested, Taurus’ gimmick worked.

A gun advertisement of yesteryear compared to the gimmicky Kahr Arms ad campaign.

A gun advertisement of yesteryear compared to the gimmicky Kahr Arms ad campaign.

Gimmicks work. That is why companies use them. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing. McDonald’s has been putting smiling faces on children since 1979 with their Happy Meal. If Cheaper Than Dirt ran a free shipping deal, you’d take advantage, right?

Gun companies have all used the same tricks to sell guns—providing descriptions of innovative features, showing families having fun while shooting, defending one’s self and loved ones, and even using scantily clad women to sell their wares. No gun manufacturer, gun accessory manufacture, or gun dealer is immune to marketing tricks and trends.

Before the demand for innovation from the U.S. military, guns were generally hand-made to order locally. Because of the growth and innovations in the manufacturing process of firearms, the gun companies realized they could sell and market their guns to civilians.

Back in the day, before television and all the legal restrictions, gun companies advertised in magazines, newspapers, and catalogs. Today we see gun advertisements in gun-related magazines only. You aren’t ever going to see a Glock ad during the Superbowl. How does someone who doesn’t shoot, or who has never shot, ever get enticed to purchase a gun? They can’t see the features and benefits of owning a gun, unless the gun industry does something to bring in an untapped market. What non-shooter is going to randomly pick up the latest issue of Guns & Ammo?

Perhaps attaching the word zombie to guns and gun gear was the most brilliant thing ever devised by some mastermind. Goggle the word zombie and see what comes up. You are more likely to stumble across a gun or a gun-related item when you search for the word zombie, than the word Apple iPhone. This, by the way, was the most searched word in 2011. Because firearms manufacturers do not use the mass market to sell guns, they might have to work just that much harder to sell product. This might be the reason we see companies like TAPCO making zombie movies. At first, the zombie idea was brilliant. Let’s take a pop culture reference and sell guns! This opened up a completely new market for firearms companies to draw in the new shooter and a younger demographic. It’s just gone too far now.

Is making your own gun the wave of the future?

Is making your own gun the wave of the future?

Lately we have seen a few innovations, such as

interchangeability system, double-barreled, two caliber guns such as Savage’s .410 Bore/.22 Long Rifle Model 24, and even 3D printing technology. What if innovations such as these don’t get further off the ground? What if the 2013 SHOT Show is a huge letdown in new technology? What will be the next big thing? Do you have any ideas? Tell me in the comment section.

If you are still into the zombie thing, don’t worry, I won’t tell. You will be surprised at all the zombie-themed items we have. Here is my shameless plug—browse them here.

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Comments (24)

  • Monica Kei

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    What’s next?
    How about Urban Youth?

    Reply

  • General Protection Fault

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    CookieMonsta, in describing futuristic improvements to classic Victorian-era firearm technology, is actually touching a bit on another overblown geek fad which strangely hasn’t quite touched the firearms industry yet: “Steampunk”. The Steampunk movement, to outsiders, might come across as a Renaissance festival combined with a Sci-Fi convention, as organized by H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. With its artsy do-it-yourself aesthetics and fascination with fiddly and elaborate but archaic brass-and-hardwood technology, along with the seemingly bottomless bank accounts of its devoted and young fan-base where it comes to the distinctive jewelry, furniture, costumes, and accessories of the subculture, Steampunk seems like it would be a natural and easily exploitable fad among the nerdier firearms enthusiasts, while artistically souped-up guns would be only a small step into the gun culture for existing fans of the Steampunk culture, which is already quite at home with gunslingers and eccentric inventors.

    As for zombies, the fad is hardly “dead”, but it must surely be getting tougher to compete in the over-saturated zombie gear market, with customer burn-out being a constant danger. The smarter product designers and advertisers are going to be looking for the next big thing now, before the coroner can put an official death certificate on the current fad.

    In the mean time, the zombie fad is an opportunity: it’s attracting fresh members to the shooting community, who in turn bring new ideas and open minds. There’s an energy and excitement in the zombie fad which can only work in favor of those of us who don’t want to see the traditional gun community stagnate and fade away. Zombie-fan parents are introducing their children to gun ownership and shooting sports as a family activity, and catching the attention of their friends, family, and coworkers. Even if you don’t understand or like the zombie thing, this is an opportunity to welcome new gun owners into accepting their 2nd Amendment responsibilities, and an opportunity to help them enjoy the responsibility of gun ownership and use in a safe, friendly, and fun environment. Even after the zombie fad fades, we should hope that the new members to the shooting community remain as mature gun owners, who will pass our enthusiasm on to still other new members of the community.

    Reply

  • Wesker

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    This “fad” has raised preparedness and awareness for a wide range of emergency situations. What do you offer to replace ‘zombies’ that will have the same effect of making ‘prepping’ for ‘zombies’ as fun, and therefor as effective?

    Announcing “Zombies Are Dead!” doesn’t make it true. In fact, I’d say you’re rather insecure. It seems like you just want it to die and are trying to make it die faster, so that your version of the ‘gun community’ doesn’t have to be embaressed about the those who seem to like fiction movie monsters.

    Go do something that HELPS the country, like protecting the 2nd Amendment, or of course defending the idea of Zombies! =)

    Reply

  • knightkrawler

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    The zombie culture is hardly dead! I have been zombie crazy since the 80’s when I was stationed in germany I was introduced to psychobilly music which goes hand in hand with zombies, hot rods, horror & sci-fi movies. Before the recent craze there has been zombie walks for years now, zombie proms are on the rise. It may be a fad in the gun culture but for me it is part of my everyday life. I have over 20 years in the military and my idea of zombie killing is a metaphor for drug addicts, criminals, terrorist, etc . It’s a fun appealing way to be prepared for anything! I concentrate on marksmanship and weapons maintenance. And for all the AR enthusiasts I suggestyou learn s.p.o.r.t.s. I have used 3 variants M16A1, M16A2 & the M4 and all I can tell you is be prepared for a double feed. P.S. I have never painted anything neon green LOL

    Reply

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