By: Kirstie Pike
It’s hard to believe that Prois has been kicking in the industry since 2008. Nine years. I never would have imagined I would still be here doing this fantastic job and working with so many fantastic people nearly a decade later. Here’s to the power of the ladies!
When we first stuck our toe into the hunting industry, it just so happened that the timing couldn’t have been better. There was an absolute lack of any performance hunting gear for women. The industry was just taking note that women were a powerful purchasing force. Outdoor television was just taking off and there were soon to be women on nearly every show on the various channels. The women’s hunting industry was now the buzz. It was determined that women made up about 11% of hunters and this was really the first time the industry took note of the women who had long been involved in hunting and the outdoors.
Reatailers and manufacturers became very eager to cater to this emerging hunting population. Retailers rolled large purchase orders for women’s products. Manufacturers began to ‘shrink and pink’ everything from knives to A/R’s to boots to bows. Everyone wanted to capture this huge, untapped market. Women were everywhere. Every ad was now catering to women. Every product line now had a female spokesperson. Everyone was set to capitalize on this demographic.
As Prois continued to ride the female hunting boom, I became more and more confused by it all.
- If the demographic was so large, why did 4 of the other ‘women’s only’ companies fold?
- If the demographic was so large, why were big box stores underselling and returning shipments?
- If the demographic was so large, why did men’s companies who tried to dabble in women’s gear cut those lines?
- If the demographic was so large, why were big box labeled women’s brands also ending up in the discount caves?
- If the demographic was so large, why were specialty stores unable to move much in the way of women’s apparel?
Then it began to happen. Retailers began cutting back on their purchase orders of women’s products. There became an overall “we just can’t move that much product” feeling. A dose of reality for all of us, as it would be. It was at this time we saw a few of the women’s only companies drop out of the market. It was at this time Prois began to consider the need to move to a direct model.
I had been watching the trends and watching for this huge onslaught of incoming female hunters. Now, it is noted that women were indeed being considered the fastest growing demographic in the hunting industry, I was not seeing the predicted onslaught of numbers first predicted back in 2008. In fact, I didn’t see those numbers at all. Additionally, I have not seen updated numbers of women in the hunting industry since 2013. At that time, women were still considered to be 11-13% of the overall number of hunters. And, food for thought, this number is determined by number of hunting licenses purchased. Invariably, it is not inconceivable that a portion of tags purchased may be purchased in a woman’s name but not necessarily by a woman. It is, unfortunately, a variable in the mix.
Now, there is NO denying that women are definitely a strong demographic in the industry. We watch closely for trends. While it is difficult to put a number or percentage of female hunters out there, here ARE some things we have noted.
- The numbers have been consistent, with little variation.
- Purchasing patterns are changing.
- Women are becoming gear junkies. They are true to their preferred brands and are fiercely loyal customers.
- Women, while always passionate, are taking hunting to a whole new level. I find their stories remarkable and am thrilled to see the professionalism and growth of this sector.
- Women are searching for gear specifically for them. But they are not looking for men’s equipment that is smaller and covered with a slathering of pink paint. They are looking for the very best equipment/gear that fits their frames, their hands, their strength and even their height. It is a great trend to watch as many manufacturers are finally seeing female hunters for what they are. Hunters. Not female hunters.
So with that, hats off to the ladies! I am eager for the next numbers to emerge and cannot wait to see those numbers knocked out of the park. I am proud of the women’s industry and all of the ladies who flourish in it. This sisterhood is something to behold and I am humbled daily by each and every one of you.
Now…get on out there and prepare to knock down some turkeys! The season fast approaches…Thank God!!