Whenever I speak to the firearms industry about women gun owners, I consistently make this critical point. Businesses need a deeper understanding of the significant differences between men and woman, what women want, how women think and what influences our choices.

Firearms Industry Needs the Purchasing Power of Women

It’s a remarkable industry that does an exceptional job doing what they’ve always done, meeting the needs of the male shooter. The industry as a whole must move beyond the way they’ve always done business and learn more about women gun owners. Women are more than a trend or special interest group they are a permanent force.

Women Over 50 Are Super Consumers

Brands in the firearms industry that focus mostly on male consumers out of fear that “feminizing” their core brand will turn off their male buyers are leaving dollars behind. BIG dollars. The reality is effective marketing for women is a smart strategy to improve the bottom line.

In fact, meeting the needs of women consumers doesn’t require changing what the industry does so brilliantly for the male consumer. It simply requires speaking directly to a woman shooter and forging a unique and independent relationship with her.

U.S. women control 51% ($14 trillion) of the personal wealth and it’s predicted American women will be in control of roughly $22 trillion by 2020. (Source) That’s more than the markets of India and China combined.

Women make more than half of key purchasing decisions whether it’s product or a service. (Source) Women control and spend the money. And Boomer women have more of it to spend than anyone else.

Boomer women are more financially savvy, empowered and independent than any prior generation of women. Women over 50 are becoming “super consumers” who control nearly 75% of the wealth in America. (Source)

Baby Boomer women have more spending clout than any other demographic and present a substantial opportunity for brands to grow their business, even during an industry slump.

Most Money – Least Attention

With age comes wisdom. And money.

For many “mature” women, their children are grown, they have little to no debt, successful careers and they’ve collected inheritances from their parents. These women have discretionary dollars and are ready for new experiences.

Women over 50 account for half of all consumer spending, but the meager marketing budgets targeted towards this consumer, reinforces a false perception that this demographic lacks value.

A Nielsen study shows that “less than 5 percent of advertising dollars” target all adults ages 35 to 64 and cites age 49 as the “cut-off,” when many marketers stop courting consumers. (Source) Despite her purchasing power, the 50+ woman is not the main focus for marketers in any industry.

Pink Is Not a Strategy

The firearms industry must realize there is no single “female gun owner” demographic. The women’s market is diverse and multifaceted. Women gun owners won’t respond to a stereotype and they don’t want to be grouped into an “all women” category.

Although it was likely well-intentioned, the outdated “shrink it and pink it” approach doesn’t address a woman gun owner’s needs and it unintentionally promotes female stereotypes. Brands are wrong to assume if they make products with pretty graphics or colors, women will buy them.

Marketing and Selling to Women Gun Owners

Industry brands have a lot to learn about marketing and selling to women. They need to engage with women, get in on the conversation and understand who she is. Change the conversation from talking at her to talking with her. Women are relational, not transactional.

Invest the time identifying who your female consumers are and learn what’s important to them. Treat her like a person and don’t fall into gender stereotypes. Women are under served, so be willing to ask for their input and listen to them.

Consider these essential points when creating your next marketing campaign or product promotion:

  1. Women look for a message they can emotionally identify with.
  2. Women research more extensively than men before making a purchase. She’ll know about you. How much will you know about her?
  3. Women are more brand loyal than men and more likely to purchase from brands they follow.
  4. Women budget and buy differently from men.
  5. Women are more likely to tell their friends about their purchases.
  6. Women appreciate brands that show women as empowered.

The brands that successfully connect with women gun owners are authentic, relevant to their needs and have a genuine interest in helping women throughout the journey.

The New Normal

The threat of more restrictive gun laws faded following the election last November. With an advocate in the White House and Republicans ruling Congress, the risk to our Second Amendment rights has lessened. At least for the time being.

Every industry is at risk for a downturn and now that the “fear of restrictions” has subsided, it’s a challenging market for gun manufacturers. Some companies will use a batten down the hatches strategy and wait for better days, while others are motivated to implement forward-thinking strategies to succeed in this new normal.

The women’s market in this industry is underdeveloped, under served and a real opportunity for brands to succeed in the marketplace, if they’re willing to commit and go all in. Savvy brands will realize the potential of the female economy and create strategies to expand their reach to women.

Change Is the Catalyst for Growth

Industry brands should celebrate women gun owners (especially those over 50) because from a strict marketing perspective; they are a highly valuable audience.

Companies that don’t connect with women, understand what they want, what they need and establish a real connection with women, are missing out. Those that do go all in and take the time and effort to understand the woman gun owner will not only survive the so-called “Trump Slump” they’ll thrive.

Change is difficult for industry brands. Their business structure is conservative, conventional and slow in shifting to new ideas. Their marketing strategy is still rooted in past realities.

If brands want to connect with the female market, they must break out of these behaviors and challenge their core strategies. Those successful at adapting these insights into their marketing strategy will not only survive the new normal; they will thrive.