Author: Emily Beach
The term “relevance” is a common buzzword floating around these days. Is your product relevant? Are your services relevant? ATA’s Outreach and Education team is focused on identifying the next opportunity and reaching new audiences. Our charge is to help keep archery and bowhunting relevant for a wide range of participants.
Believe me, this can be a hefty challenge.
The outreach team promotes and encourages archery and bowhunting participation through grassroot efforts. We develop programs and implement them nationwide to help grow our sport. This, in turn, increases equipment sales and service needs for our retailers and manufacturers. Hopefully, we are doing our part to help you build your business. ATA works to keep archery and bowhunting relevant by focusing on the audience (consumer) – which is changing. Our industry is very familiar with (and likes) the Baby Boomers and older generations, but today’s customers also include Gen X’ers, Millennials and Gen Z. Each generation has distinct characteristics and buying habits. I’m a proud Gen X’er; I’m not sure if that’s because I think of Gen X’ers as independent, hard-working individuals, or because one of my musical heroes Billy Idol got his start with the punk rock band Generation X. (I was a HUGE Billy Idol fan!)
A new buzz word floating out there now is Relevance. Are you relevant? More specifically, is your product relevant? Are your services relevant? In business, you’re focused on the bottom line. In outreach, we’re focused on identifying the next opportunity that may be lurking in the most unlikely of places and lying within the most reluctant of people. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo.
With my generation included, America has six living generations, according to an article by Dr. Jill Novak of the University of Phoenix and Texas A&M University. Let’s take a look at Novak’s description of these groups and what drives their purchasing and interests.
The GI Generation, commonly known as the Greatest Generation, was born between 1901 and 1926. They were the children of the WWI generation, young during the Great Depression and fought in WWII. “Their Depression was The Great One; their war was The Big One; their prosperity was the legendary Happy Days.” In general, they save, avoid debt, buy with cash and are loyal to jobs and groups. They are likely to have long-term memberships with conservation and shooting clubs.
The Mature/Silents were born between 1927 and 1945. According to the article, “they grew up in an era of suffocating conformity, but also during post-war happiness: Peace! Jobs! Rock ‘n Roll! Playboy Magazine!” This generation includes some of the wealthiest retirees.
Next, the infamous Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964, and currently comprise one of the largest generations. They buy now and use credit. As they move into active retirement, this generation will change the face of America (and likely our industry).
Generation X’ers were born between 1965 and 1980. Like many others, I was a “latch-key kid,” which means I grew up street-smart but isolated. This generation commits to self rather than organizations, which could affect things like club memberships. According to Novak, Gen X’ers want what they want but struggle to buy, and most have credit card debt.
Generation Y/Millennials were born between 1981 and 2000. “They schedule everything. They get all their information and most of their socialization from the Internet and see the world as a 24/7 place.” This generation likes things to happen quickly.
Generation Z includes anyone born after 2001. My kids are Gen Z’ers. They have never known a world without computers AND cell phones, and as such, are well-educated shoppers. “An estimated 29 million tweens spend $51 billion every year with an additional $170 billion spent by their parents directly for them.” Also, in 2006 there was a record number of births in the U.S. and 49% of those born were Hispanic. “Since the early 1700’s the most common last name in the U.S. was ‘Smith’ but not anymore, now it is ‘Rodriguez.’”
So why did I share all of that? Your customers, that’s why.
The customers that once came into stores and clubs are either living in nursing homes, unable to participate or have passed on. The generations that held memberships in conservation and shooting clubs – who had the money and time to participate in bowhunting and archery – are now fading fast from the great American Economy. The archery and bowhunting customer is changing.
Furthermore, technology, isolation, less time outdoors, and lack of money have made growing archery and bowhunting difficult. However, opportunities exist. Spanish-speaking populations, women and youth represent a new potential customer base. Do you know what they are looking for? If you hear what they say and make adjustments in your business, you’ll become more relevant in your community.
Women are self-sufficient and capable hunters. Carry gear that fits them and they will buy it. Provide women with honest, quality service and they’ll host wine parties at your store, bring all their friends who will bring their kids back to buy that super cool, neon green bow. Photo Credit: John Hafner.
Let’s break it down:
1. The Hispanic population is the fastest growing demographic in America. According to the U.S. Census Bureau more than half of the growth in the total U.S. population between 2000-2010 was due to an increase in the Hispanic population. Many Spanish-speaking Hispanics don’t understand our public land access, use and hunting heritage. This doesn’t mean they don’t want to participate in hunting, fishing, boating or other outdoor recreational activities; they simply lack the information to get started. How to adapt? Hire bilingual Hispanic staff to effectively reach Spanish-speaking customers and communities. Partner with local organizations that serve this demographic to provide programs, exposure and expertise.
2. Women are self-sufficient and capable hunters. Stock gear that fits them, and they will buy it. Don’t condescend to women (that means to talk down to people – get it?); provide them with honest, quality service, and they’ll host wine parties at your store and bring all their friends – who will then bring their kids to buy that super cool, neon green bow.
3. Gen X’ers don’t want to spend a lot of money. Develop quality, mid-priced equipment options. Period.
4. Today’s youth will drive the next big craze. Engineer quality, custom youth equipment. What Gen X parents won’t spend on themselves, they’ll spend on their kids and grandkids.
5. Millennials and Gen Z have never known a world without the internet. Invest in a functioning, updated website. They can’t find you in the phone book! To be relevant to these generations, you MUST have a website (otherwise you don’t exist).
In short, to be relevant in the world today, you need to have an online presence; speak multiple languages; understand the cultures in your community; carry equipment for ALL of your current and potential customers (men, women, youth and disabled); offer quality, custom work; and provide the most kick-ass customer service (smile!) you can summon from the depths of your soul. In the age of online shopping, service and customer reviews are the primary things driving people to your store. I love shopping locally, and I’m happy to pay more knowing my money and taxes are going back into my community. But if I get awful customer service, I’m going to Amazon.
You can recruit new people to our sport, and we’re happy to help. ATA’s Outreach and Education team partners with state and local governments and NGOs to make sure community needs are being met. We offer quality education programs that give leaders what they need to grow engagement through archery and bowhunting. Through a multi-state conservation grant, we translated “Explore Bowhunting” into Spanish, “Explora Caza con Arco”, which is now available to all states free of charge. ATA certifies instructors to keep archery one of the safest sports in America. We also offer guidance on archery park development to make archery more accessible.
Finally, ATA provides tools to grow member retail businesses through our Retail Growth Initiative. We also provide member manufacturers real-world feedback from youth, woman and program leaders so they can engineer the best equipment for these emerging markets through the Archery Equipment Development Program. Visit ArcheryTrade.org to learn more.