We asked three veteran retailers: Is your female customer base growing, remaining stable or declining? And what are you doing to promote archery to women? Here’s what they had to say.
We’re gaining more women customers annually. When The Hunger Games was so popular, women wanted to try traditional bows, but I steered most of them to compound bows simply because I can teach them to shoot a compound more easily. Now, some of those women have conquered compounds and are interested in the challenges of learning to shoot traditional archery.
We carry numerous ladies’ bows, and we find that some women prefer camo bows, where others prefer color-accented bows. So, we try to stock multiple options. Colors are very important to 50 percent of our women customers, too. They want something that doesn’t look like a hand-me-down and that they can call their own.
On the hunting side, scent-free products are important. Most manufacturers produce and sell harsher toiletries that are OK for men but not women. We stock Just for Does products, which are designed specifically for women so they can get good results without ruining their hair.
Approximately 70 percent of our women customers try archery because their significant other wants them to. The other 30 percent have their own desires to try it. Most women are accompanied by someone during their first couple visits to our shop. However, once they draw and shoot a bow, they no longer feel pressured. They see that they can handle it. For that reason, I believe archery rather than firearms appeals more to women. Perhaps it just feels safer and more manageable.
The main thing is to make women feel comfortable in your store. The male employees who work here are great at fielding questions and assisting women, but sometimes women are embarrassed to ask certain questions around men, so I think having a woman available is the key to keeping them in their comfort zone.
St. Robert, Missouri
I’d say our women customer base is remaining stable. We don’t market specifically to one gender or the other. Instead, we target everyone and meet all needs. If we focus on one market segment more than another, it’s kids. They’re the future.
Most women try archery on a recreational level, and we don’t push them to bowhunt. That’s their decision. If they express interest, we’ll certainly do all we can to educate and help them get started.
Of course, we understand that men’s products don’t always work for women. So, we handle some women’s bows. We also offer women’s releases and differently colored accessories. Now, most folks think pink when they think of women’s products. However, we’ve seen interest in pink declining here. Many women now seem inclined to choose camo products as opposed to several years ago.
Store atmosphere is everything. Our store is very family-friendly. Our retail space is well-lit and very clean. All merchandise is well-appointed and very accessible. Besides that, our staff is friendly and helpful. Those aspects provide positive shopping experiences for all customers, and especially women.
I don’t believe The Hunger Games generated as many women customers for us as it did for other shops around the country. We saw a slight incline in traditional bow sales during that time, but compound bow sales didn’t really change.
That said, I’d say the number of women customers we currently serve is remaining stable. In the past, we’ve tried holding women-only leagues. Interest was always fairly strong at the beginning, but attendance would then fizzle out as the leagues continued. I didn’t want to, but I discontinued those leagues due to lack of interest. I believe most women are just too busy with family stuff to commit to something more, and I simply can’t reserve our range for just one or two women.
The discontinuation of our women’s leagues doesn’t indicate there aren’t lots of women shooting and bowhunting in our area; there are. I just find that I can’t consistently draw them in for leagues when they’re so busy with other matters.
We serve a diverse group of women customers here. Some grew up shooting archery. Some have spouses that firearm hunt, but because of gun recoil and loud reports, they choose to bowhunt instead. Bows are often more appealing than firearms to women for that reason. Some bowhunt, and some just shoot recreationally. We serve every woman according to her needs.
Last year we brought in a lot of women’s bows, but we carried several over into 2018, so we’ll order more conservatively moving forward. Of course, we must stock some women’s bows we know will sell. In particular, Diamond’s Prism in purple sells very well. But, we’ll now be special-ordering the more custom bows/options.