I had a chance a couple of weeks ago to sit down and talk with some gun industry marketing types, and it always amazes me how no one knows how market to Gun Culture 2.0. There are essentially two templates:
- Do a 30 second spot of a World Famous Shooter blasting away with the new Hypergun 3000 and talk about all the cool features of the gun or
- Do a 30 second spot of 3-D animations of the new Hypergun 3000 and point out all the new features of the gun.
This is great and all, but how does the gun make you feel? What is the ideal end state of the potential buyer? What emotions do we want to curate in them before and after the sale? What is the ideal lifestyle of Gun Culture 2.0?
And this where the fun begins. The lifestyle of Gun Culture 1.0 was all about the positive outcomes of a hunting trip. You went into the wilderness with your family and/or friends, enjoyed the beauty of the great outdoors and even if you didn’t bring home a trophy, you still had a great time traipsing through the beauty of God’s creation.
Gun Culture 2.0, however, is based on the negative outcome of potentially encountering a criminal willing and able to use lethal force against us or someone we love. All of a sudden, all the positive images of father with his arm around his son as they contemplate an empty meadow on a cool autumn morning go right out the window. Having to use my gun to defend myself is something I really want to avoid, but if I have to use it, I want to know that it will work when I need it to work, and that my skills are up to the task when they are needed. I practice and train because I want the confidence that comes with knowing I have put myself to the test and what skills and gear I have will be there for me when I need them the most.
There just is not a lot of consumer products that are sold around the prospect of a negative outcome. Two that come to mind right away are life insurance and tires. Life insurance isn’t really a physical item, so let’s talk about tires. Tires are sold on the basis of performance: The right set of tires can make your car go faster, and the right set of tires can keep you safe when things get hairy and your life might be in danger. Consider this TV spot for Hankook Tires
There were no specifications or features being rattled off, and you didn’t see a famous racing driver talk about how good these tires are in the snow. Despite that, after watching this TV spot, you came away with the impression that Hankook tires are really good in the snowy, wintery conditions and will give you the confidence you will not only survive in those types of conditions, but perform to your peak ability as well.
So here is a template that works for an industry that is older and more sophisticated than the firearms industry. Will it work for Gun Culture 2.0? Probably. Is the industry smart enough to see it? Time will tell.