Laura Burgess Marketing represents a lot of big time gun and gear manufacturers. On occasion Laura will add a personal note to the press releases posted to content providers.  This one on marketing to women gives cautionary advice to her clients. Of which I’ll share with you . . .

“I read an interesting article in the September 24th issue of Advertising Age, “No More ‘Shrinking it and Pinking It’ at Under Armour” just recently. The article regarding Under Amour’s entry into the women’s market and the daunting task they face at proving that their male-centric brand has room for a women’s line resonated with me on how companies in our industry market to women. The “shrinking it and pinking it” has also been a prevailing mind-set within the firearms industry. Women prefer small guns because they have small hands and pink is for girls – or so the thought process goes in marketing departments within many of our companies . . .

Under Armour’s new pitch line is “No matter what, sweat every day. I will.” Under Armour is counting on reaching out and becoming a part of the female athletic / exercise phenomena, based upon research that shows the growing number of women and girls participating in sports.

And that growing number is also occurring in the firearms industry. However, we still see a number of companies utilizing the “shrink it and pink it” mentality. With a growing number of women working within the industry and in many cases, leading companies, I believe we are slowly seeing a paradigm shift on marketing to women. We see a rise in women’s only firearms courses and women-centric firearms and outdoor related websites. We see more women taking up the sport and participating in competitions.

Yes, we may like pink and we may like small guns, but we also like feeling confident and skilled. So when you are marketing to women, look up, not there, but into our eyes.

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19 Responses to Laura Burgess to Gunmakers: Don’t Just “Shrink It and Pink It”

  1. The pic on this article is hilarious. Clearly, creating relationships is what those guys have foremost on their minds.

    Also, Ms Burgess uses the word “phenomena”. I do not think that word means what she thinks it means.

  2. “So when you are marketing to women, look up, not there, but into our eyes.”

    Sorry I was just, uh, admiring the beauty of the female form. ;3

  3. Marketing to women should not be all about style (i.e., cute pink guns) but about proper gun fitment. The response so far has been just smaller guns with shorter barrels and shorter grips, guns that are often unpleasant to shoot.The industry should instead focus on full size pistols (4 and 5 inch barrels) with smalll sized (single stack) grips that fit a smaller hand, and SA rather than DA triggers with a 5 to 7 lb pull. There are plenty of guns out there already for women who can take a firmer trigger pull or a stiffer recoil; time to design guns for those who can’t, bringing more women into the shooting world who would otherwise be put off.

    • All of what Mark N said, plus controls which are sized and positioned so that folks with shorter fingers capable of generating less pressure are able to operate them easily.

      Non-handgun example: my new Weatherby 20-gauge semi-auto shotgun has a bolt release button that my wife is unable to operate from any reasonable weapon-handling position. She would need to safe it and bring it completely off target in order to get the leverage she needs to drop the bolt on round dropped into the chamber.

  4. The firearms industry is old and stodgy. In such an environment, “zombie” products and pink grips are the kinds of low IQ ideas that substitute for actual creativity.

  5. To properly secure our civil rights we will need a large portion of women voters. Gun company’s need to start consulting with experienced female shooters and also inexperienced female shooters to see what the company’s can do better for that market segment.

  6. My 5’4″ wife carries an M-9. She was ok with the 1911 before age and a damaged wrist took its toll. Any sized person can shoot a full sized pistol without any problems.

    • Well- I’d word it differently.
      Anyone can shoot any caliber, if they want to. If they train.
      I have a very small female friend- she shoots .45 from a HK mk 13. I’m an average sized guy and *I* don’t like how big her HK is. She also shoots a friggin .50DE. Why? Because she wants to.
      I should mention that she shoots these guns better then most men do.

      At the same time, back when I used to peddle these guns, I advocated for ignoring all talk about what a lady could and could not do- but rather try. If she really didn’t want a revolver, let’s find her a semi that fits her, and that she CAN rack the slide on. If she has difficulty racking a slide, show her diferent ways to make it easier.
      If she really doesnt want a semi- don’t try to sell her one- find a revolver that fits her, that she likes to shoot.

    • Not “should” more like “naturally gravitate towards”. A couple years ago Tacoma PD changed from Glocks to Officer’s choice of Glock or Kimber Pro. The majority of officers who switched to the 1911 were female.

  7. Reminds me that I need to take my wife to a range with a variety of guns for rent and see what she’s comfortable with. Any suggestions for someone with wrist and grip strength problems? She doesn’t have small hands.

    • Well a full sized polymer would be the way to go. There is extra weight but not a ton. the larger grip will feel better.
      I have a short palm base with long fingers, so I prefer S&W, or Sig, Caracal. Glocks, and some others don’t feel right to me at least.
      For strength issues, you probably don’t want her shooting a super large caliber. more gun weight and smaller caliber, should reduce recoil, although not always the case. Again a comfort issue, plus she should return to target faster in a DGU situation.

      Depending on the gun manufacturer, the trigger weight might be “stiff” or “hard to pull” for her. A simple trigger job should fix that right up, and make it comfortable.

      Features is another area. Does she want to deal with manual safeties, or the grip safety’s? I like S&W because it is point and shoot. There are no manual safety’s although you can get them. Trigger parts to help clean up the pull are plentiful.

      And yes I am sure somewhere out there you can get pink or purple grips and accessories so she will still stay fashion conscious.

      My wife likes the SW featherweight revolver. The small grip fits her perfect. It is a revolver, so not much to deal with. Point and shoot.. And yes it had pink grips stock!

    • If she has wrist and grip problems and you want an auto for her Beretta used to make a .380 caliber with a tip up barrel. That saves having to rack the action. They might still make them and if not you could keep an eye on the used market.

      Next bet is a revolver. Get something with at least a 3 inch barrel and a decent grip. If she has hand problems probably nothing heavier than a .38

      My wife has no hand issues other than hers are small. She’s 5 ft. tall. She can and has shot .45 auto and 12 ga. pump. Her ready gun is a 5 shot .38 with a 4 inch barrel. My wife also loves a Smith and Wesson .22 mag revolver. No issues of recoil or control there and it’s sure better than a sharp stick.

  8. Here’s how I market to women:

    I put all the pink and/or small guns on the very bottom shelf of display cabinets. The sales staff gets a nice view of the front, other customers get a view of the back.

  9. My wife is small and after we tried some guns, including a Glock 19, she wanted a Ruger Mark II in Stainless with a 6 inch Bull Barrel. Then we found a Smith and Wesson Model 16 in.32 H&R Magnum with Red Ramp and a 4 inch barrel, and it worked great for her. She likes the Blue Black Finish and fitted it with black Pachmayr grips. She favors JHPs for Defense and uses Lead SWC’s for target practice. Sadly, this caliber faded from the product line, but maybe it should be brought back for the gals.

    Personally, I have seen a lot of ladies with snub nose.38’s loaded with +P struggling to put bullet on target even at 10-15 feet. My wife could put six rounds in Center Mass on a Silhouette at 50 feet and every distance in between with her Model 16. She does as well with the Ruger, too.

    I knew a young lady several years back who had a Walther PPK in Stainless that a gunsmith she knew had done an excellent trigger job on and some polishing that somehow made the slide smooth as glass. She had 1 inch well manicured nails and I never saw her chip a nail or complain about doing so. She was a great shot at 10 to 50 feet. Don’t recall if it was .380 or 9mm. She had the black grips on it.

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