Women, Their Reasons for Gun Ownership, and What That Means for Your Business

Nearly 9 million firearm background checks were filed in the United States from January 2012 through the end of June 2012, according to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). A topic discussed in many articles is the increase of women pursuing gun ownership. In fact, 43% of women report personally owning a gun in 2011, as compared to only 13% in 2005 (Saad; Carroll). With more women owning guns and more women interested in firearms in general, it is important that a gun store intentionally market to women, ensuring that they feel welcome and safe in what is traditionally a male dominated industry (Bestul; McCombie). Women have different views on and reasons for owning firearms. The following article will outline two of these views and potential marketing techniques for those ideals.

One very common reason for owning a gun is self-defense. Women who desire a gun for this reason may have varying levels of experience with firearms. For instance, it may be that she intends to buy the gun, place it unloaded in a closet and forget about it. She does not intend or expect to have to use it, but it provides a sense of peace by having it. At the same time, she is apprehensive and unprepared to ever use the weapon. It could be, on the other hand, that the woman who is looking to purchase is fairly familiar with guns, having grown up around them. She is fairly comfortable shooting the gun. On occasion she may practice shooting, but this is usually more to make sure the gun still works than to improve her skill (Blair). This woman is looking for a gun that functions easily and has low maintenance requirements. A woman with this view is likely already looking for a firearm; she just needs a reason to come to your business. Through your advertising, you must display knowledge, and the ability to instill self-confidence in these customers through proper firearms training, whether through willingness to give advice, offering her discounts on training and practice time if your store is equipped to do so, or to encourage her to pursue courses through a local facility. To help make these women comfortable in your store, the addition of a female employee to assist them with their decisions would be a wise business choice. Other options include: carrying feminine firearms and accessories (i.e. guns with color options, conceal carry accessories designed for women, firearms that are fitted to the female anatomy, in regards to both strength and build issues, etc.), displaying gender-neutral decorations in the store, and avoiding political propaganda and divisive conversations, as much as possible.

Another type of female consumer, who is generally rarer, is the avid shooter. She has likely been around guns all of her life, shoots with regularity, and has no qualms about firearms (Blair). This woman likely spends a lot of time in gun stores, and feels fairly comfortable regardless of decor or the gender of employees, although a female employee and neutral decor is still beneficial. However, care should be taken not to assume that she is inexperienced with firearms. Employees should be sure to treat her with respect and courteousness at all times, even before he or she is sure of how much experience that this customer has. This customer is not as likely to pursue pink firearms, but will generally lean towards the firearm that is better suited for the female anatomy (i.e. length of pull, grip and hammer placement suited for smaller hands, a balance between lightness and amount of recoil, adjustable fore grip distance, adjustable comb for cheek weld, telescopic butt stock, etc.). Be sure to keep a decent amount of stock that suits the female build. Also, stay knowledgeable and up to date on what firearms and accessories are helpful for women, and avoid anything that is just a gimmick. Ultimately, the prudent gun store business owner will be sure to treat all customers equally and with respect, regardless of any perceived attributes. In so doing, all persons will feel welcome in your store, increasing the potential customer base for your business.

Sources

Bestul, S. (2011). Selling Handguns to Women. SHOT Business, 19(2), 24.

Blair, M., & Hyatt, E. M. (1995). The Marketing of Guns to Women: Factors Influencing Gun-Related Attitudes and Gun Ownership by Women. Journal Of Public Policy & Marketing, 14(1), 117-127.

Carroll, Joseph. (2005). Gun Ownership and Use in America. Gallup. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/20098/Gun-Ownership-Use-America.aspx.

McCombie, B. (2011). The Untapped Opportunity. SHOT Business, 19(5), 42-47.

Saad, Lydia. (2011). Self-Reported Gun Ownership in U.S. Is Highest Since 1993. Gallup. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/150353/Self-Reported-Gun-Ownership-Highest-1993.aspx.