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The Hairy Woodpecker

Birding Business July 2015

July 2015 Birding Business: Special Buyer's Guide Issue

birding business magazine  july 2015An Industry in Flux
BY RAY DAVID | Editor/Publisher

The recent recession caused a lot of 
businesses in the nature products industry to adjust operating strategies. Most have found their footing and moved along with different industry practices, but one group continues to change because its market niche is not yet sorted out. Birding optics look much as they did a decade ago, but the process of production through delivery to the birder’s hands is becoming a different animal altogether. The market in which they are traded has gone through a metamorphosis that impacts every business in which optics are part of the mix.

It’s just not as simple anymore as company ‘A’ making the item, selling to distributor ‘B’, who then sells it to retailer ‘C’, and from there to ‘D’, the consumer.  Optical technology, when you include medical, scientific and industrial use, is huge worldwide, and requires enormous financial commitment by the manufacturer. On the consumer side – hunting, birding, sports, marine and astronomy – that commitment is equally large, and that will not change. What is changing is the means by which the product is marketed to the end user. Hunting, for example, has lost ground for years for many reasons: less huntable land, more regulations, higher costs, all resulting in sales declines. Birding, on the other hand, is steadily growing in popularity. But the optics makers have five markets to consider, all of which require subtle differences in the means of reaching their end user, so the marketing budget must be split five ways. 

One on one has always been most effective, but also the most expensive for the manufacturer. They can’t be in every store meeting every customer – and they shouldn’t be… that’s the retailer’s place.  But optics are much more complex than a bird feeder or field guide and need a more detailed explanation to identify the reasons for price differences between low and high end examples. There are quality differences that a seasoned birder would understand, and appreciate in the field, but field birders are a different market than backyard birders who rarely venture into the outback, or than sailors or racing fans, and each has needs different from the other. That leaves the manufacturer with too many options which may in themselves be similar, but must be separately directed to different audiences.

But there is something you can do to make it easier for the makers and more profitable for you. An “Explore your Optics Options” event in your store once each month or two will build traffic and increase attention on you as a knowledgeable source. You can invite the optics company’s sales reps to make a presentation, and your local media – radio and TV stations and newspapers – to join you to learn more about optics and birding.  And take them all on a bird walk, something probably none of them have done before, and are certain to write about.

We all seem to have stepped out of the traditional marketing box when the internet came along. But perhaps we’ve put too much reliance on social media and need to put at least one foot back into the traditional box. It still works.

Also in this issue:

Sell Solutions, Not Products
by Hank Weber

Most Valuable Space
by Hank Weber

State of the Optiics Industry
by John Riutta

2015-2016 Buyer's Guide

Here Comes EMV
by Hank Weber

Publisher's Note
Industry News
New Products
Book Reviews
Index of Advertisers