Friday, May 02, 2014

Letting The Market Decide

At the NRA Annual Expo as with any trade expo the exhibiting companies will go to great effort to attract attention. Some like Glock use celebrities like R.Lee Gunny. Others hauled in vehicles such as a NASCAR show piece and at this event there were a lot of spiffed-out 4WD vehicles. Outside the convention center were those tour busses cryo-wrapped with fancy graphics used as mobile billboards greeting visitors.

One thing to note last week is there were small points of interest scattered about where antique and rare items were on display but dwarfed by innovations and technology. What's not to like about this adorable brass Gatling Gun from the 1800's?

One onlooker claimed it would look great in his rec room. I responded it would look great on my deck. "Hey neighbor, your mutt just crapped on my lawn again" Crank……powpowpowpowpow. That earned some laffs.

How about this Annie Oakley relic with the claim she used this exact revolver when performing her famous marksmanship exhibitions.

Take a look at this old seven barrel rifle. Owww…my shoulder hurts just looking at it.

The quantity and quality of AR15 rifles was mind boggling as well as al the aftermarket hardware to outfit such toys. Flash and sound suppressors, 300 Blackout uppers, barrels, lower receivers, flashlights, lasers, grips, folding stocks, magazines, scopes, rings, sights, cases, slings and those are just a few of the extra goodies people are buying these days all to enmbellish their favorite AR. Due to the component nature of the AR there are many small time entrepreneurs in garages assembling rifles from parts and making a ton of money on the AR fad and all its variants. AR's are in huge demand and the component nature of it's basic design spawned an entire industry based on one rifle. The market decided and many responded.

What about the AK world? Doesn't seem to be as much interest there from what I didn't see on display. It's not just my opinion that the AK market is relatively small in comparison it's based on the consistent availability of inexpensive 7.62x39 ammo even through the shortages of others. Adding to that is the much smaller assortment of aftermarket products available. This tells me the American market demand is not there.

When I rounded one corner I saw this. Benelli has introduced the Ethos. It's a beautiful but more traditional looking modern shotgun.

They want to create an image of high style aimed at the discriminating upscale wing shooter. In order to attract attention as well as enhance their brand image they had the world land speed record holding motorcycle and its rider in attendance signing autographs. As if that wasn't enough two talented young ladies with string instruments were playing what passed for chamber music. Not too many of us country Bubbas stuck around for this noise but it had the attention of what appeared to be the deep pocket boys. This display stood apart from the main Benelli display indicating to me they want to make it seem extra special.

Understanding that there are many wealthy sportsmen who pay big money traveling to exotic places with luxury lodges in search of ruffed grouse and other gamebirds this company responds with high-end shotguns targeted at those who are simply above carrying a shotgun used by the great unwashed masses. The market is there and this is how one company responds to it.

Taurus is a company famous for their Judge revolver. One Taurus model that gets a lot of attention in my store's display case is the 738 TCP. It's a small pocket handgun chambered in .380acp and weighs only 10 ounces. The polymer frame comes in basic black with either a black or natural stainless steel slide. Another option offered incorporates a pink polymer frame with a black slide. I have sold two of those in the past two months.

Take a look at this Taurus display from last week in Indianapolis. I didn't know if I had suddenly been transported to the cosmetics counter at Macy's or I was standing in the Apple Store.

The Taurus 739 TCP now comes in all black, black and silver along with pink and black, pink and silver, violet and silver, blue and black, yellow and silver, orange and silver and even all white! The combinations are endless. All of this is possible because of polymers and the ability to add color to molded polymer frames. Women are buying personal protection as never before. Here is a prime example of how the consumer demand triggered (heh) a serious response.

We know how the ladies like to coordinate their accessories. I can hear it now. Wearing a red dress tonight? Maybe I'll take the complimentary violet color Taurus or…oh my, how well the cute little yellow Taurus would go with my neon green UA jogging outfit". "Oooo..this little one in lavender is soooo ca-yooot!"

Some of my lady customers are young women who jog or bike on the many bike paths and are worried about rapists, gang bangers and maybe a stray pit bull. Some are widowed grannies who live in fear. They live in the home where her and her husband raised their children but because the neighborhood has now gotten so nasty they are afraid to leave the house where they spent most of their lives. Now they need personal protection. One response is the Taurus 739 TCP.

Ever heard the political media propaganda about that War On Women? Well it now appears many of them are more than willing to fight back.

And the response comes with style.


Carl from Chicago said...

Great pictures!

Dan from Madison said...

Great post. The upper end marketing always fascinates me. Also, were there a lot of models there like at a car show?

Gerry from Valpo said...

Yes there were lots of models.

Dan from Madison said...

Our tens of readers anxiously await those photos...