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.
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.
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.
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.