Cart 0

New Products for 2016

Activities and Exhibits

The SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade) Show is now just days away. Once again it will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada and all of the major players in the trade will be there to display their ware and of course take orders.

Over the past few years a new trend has developed. The manufacturers will actually have the items they display ready for shipment or in many cases will have already shipped those items.

What's new about this you may ask? Well, in years past we'd see new items at the SHOT Show, even, in the case of guns, get to shoot them at the “day at the range” but they might not show up in showrooms for months, if at all.

I can recall several guns that I shot as tool room guns, that never made it to dealer shelves, even though some of them were highly advertised. My readers would sometimes contact me and ask where they could get one of those guns. In some cases they could not get one anywhere and in at least one case that comes to mind, the gun was even renamed before it finally appeared several years later.

A few years ago, one manufacturer introduced a brand new shotgun at the Grand American Trap Shooting Championship (the Grand) and allowed anyone, not just writers and dealers, to take it to the range and shoot it. They even provided a box of shells free of charge. They stated then that the gun would be on dealer's shelves by the time the Grand was over.

So, what changed and is it a good idea? Like many ideas and practices, it has good and bad points. How do you convince a wholesaler or retailer to take your product before he's seen it? What is the risk to the manufacturer to produce hundreds or thousands of products and not know if it will be accepted by the folks who you want to buy it?

One method that has been used is to send the new products to folks who review and evaluate outdoor products, writers, and ask them to thoroughly evaluate it. That sounds pretty simple on the surface at least but does it really work?

For that procedure to work, the outdoor writer must act as consumer might act when first using this product. He must use the product as it was intended to be used, follow any instructions for its use and then evaluate its performance. This process does not prohibit the writer from making suggestions to the manufacturer for changes or alterations to the product or to any instructions provided with it.

The role of the outdoor writer as an evaluator is not without its pitfalls. We all know that people may look at a picture and see different things. Multiple eyewitnesses to a crime may describe the perpetrator as tall, short, heavy, thin or with any number of different ethnicities. So it is with outdoor writers when evaluating any product.

The manufacturer must sift through the evaluations he receives and determine how he is to proceed. Should changes be made to the product itself, to the instructions, should it go to market as it is, or should the product be scrapped. All are questions which the manufacturer must answer.

Many times the writer may have agreed to a “blackout” on the new product he's evaluating. He may not comment on it or even let his readers know anything of it until some certain date. It may be that the product never goes to market or it may go in some altered form or as mentioned earlier, with a different name. A very high degree of trust must be earned by the writer. He must evaluate the product fairly and must not disclose anything about it until the blackout is lifted.

As can easily be seen, using a small group of people, even those who are seasoned through years of evaluations of outdoor products, is not a perfect solution but if production is limited and the results of the various evaluations are taken seriously by the manufacturer, it can be a great tool. It may save the manufacturer thousands of dollars and the embarrassment of introducing a product to the market that has flaws that had gone undetected.

The other upside to this system is that the manufacturer, after considering all of the evaluations and any alterations caused by them, may proceed with large scale production and have this product on the way to dealers upon its introduction with confidence that it's ready for us as consumers.

Older Post Newer Post