On the morning of December 2nd, 2015, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik walked into the Inland Regional Centre.…and began shooting indiscriminately.
14 people were murdered and 22 others seriously injured in what was to be known as the San Bernardino Shooting. The attack is considered the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history since Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.
America had suffered another gun associated atrocity. While the world looked on in disbelief, there was one group who were profiting with what was unfolding in front of them: the shareholders to Smith & Wesson.
In just the quarter that contained the shooting alone, Smith & Wesson’s revenue had increased 61.5%. Compared to the quarter a year earlier, gross profit had risen 98% and Smith & Wesson’s share value had doubled!
Why? Because “Nothing sells better than fear”.
Consumers’ are generally predictable in their buying habits in what is known in marketing as the three-phased purchase process.
Phase one: Pre purchase – consumers are convinced that they need something. In this case, a gun, or many guns, out of fear for protection. Gun manufacturer Glock recently released these cheesy pro gun commercials using actor and ex-militant R. Lee Ermey:
Consumers then go on the hunt, all pun intended, to find the guns that are most suitable for them. Some questions determining suitability may include:
Is it light to carry? Is it easy to use? Does it make me feel powerful and look sexy? Will holding it sideways “gangsta style” affect accuracy? Is it easily concealable inside my tailored suit or strapped against my inner thigh whilst wearing my stunning backless designer cocktail dress? Does it come with a gun case that matches my iPhone cover?
Phase two: Purchase – Once a consumer is happy they’ve found “the one”, the retail channel is selected whether via online, department chain, boot of car etc. and the purchase is made.
Finally, phase three: Post purchase – Customers assess whether they are satisfied enough with their purchase experience and, with as many hashtags as possible, tell everyone how awesome it is and they too should get one.
But there’s another more powerful fear driving Americans to include ‘a gun’ somewhere on their shopping list below milk and bread but above toothpaste and nappies. It’s a fear that they will be stripped of their finely manufactured personal killing machines and have their constitutional rights pertaining to the Second Amendment encroached upon.
It seems the most influential Ambassadors spearheading the increase of gun sales are those that go on homicidal killing sprees, terrorists and, much to his dismay I’m sure, President Obama.
Yes, President Obama seems to be having the opposite effect to what he intends to achieve. A mass shooting occurs, Obama cries for gun control, people stockpile out of fear that guns will become harder to obtain and gun shares spike. It’s a vicious social cycle, but if you’re the proud owner of shares within the firearm industry, it’s a prosperous one.
Anti gun groups are doing their best to counter this momentum including this video of a gun store opened by lobbying group States United to Prevent Gun Violence:
To the first-time gun buyer where this is a specialty item and customer involvement is high, this may prove effective. But to the gun fanatic who puts the same amount of thought into buying a semi automatic as he/she does buying a carton of Budweiser, this technique would have little effect.
To add salt to the bullet wound, it’s all free PR for gun brands like Glock and Smith & Wesson. As a gun manufacturer, why spend unnecessary marketing costs when you have gun wielding psychos, gun lobbyists, and the President of the United States doing it all for you: Keeping the American people constantly talking about, thinking about and emotionally reacting about your product…guns!