Posted by: nickgerlich | November 17, 2007

Target Marketing

Yesterday I received a phone call from a newspaper reporter. She said, “Nick, I have two words for you: Pink Guns.”

I replied, “Paint Guns?”

“No, P-I-N-K Guns.”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” I replied. So I went into my ad lib on pink guns. Turns out that Gander Mountain and other firearms retailers are now selling pink rifles and shotguns, perhaps one of the most clear-cut instances of target marketing I have ever seen. No self-respecting male would use one; ergo, women must be their sights for this feminine firepower.

Dodge LaFemmeThe funny thing, I told the reporter, is that I had just finished reading earlier in the morning an account in mental_floss magazine, in which they awarded Chrysler a Golden Lobe for “Most Misguided Marketing Scheme.” And their winning feat was the Dodge LaFemme, a car produced only between 1955 and 1956 expressly for women.

The LaFemme came in pink and white, and had a rosebud print interior. But wait, there’s more. Each car came with a matching purse, compact set, and rain gear (hat, poncho, and dainty boots).

Yeah, I can just see a 21C woman donning those dainty boots the next time she has to drive in the rain.

Chrysler only made 2500 of the LaFemme, and only 1500 were actually sold. Chrysler’s mistake: Assuming that 1950s prosperity, female empowerment a la Rosie the Riveter, and the growing car culture would be a slam dunk success. Too bad the ball went off the rim.

One could argue that in the 1950s, women did not enjoy the same level of cooperative decision making as they do in modern families. But if that were the case, we’d probably see a bunch more pink cars on the highways today (in addition to those pink Cadillacs driven by stellar Mary Kay sales reps). No, I think that women simply felt patronized.

StorzetteAnd here’s another case in point: Storzette Beer from the same time period. Storz was once a regional brewery in Omaha, and must have used the same market research team that Chrysler employed. These diminutive 8oz. cans of beer had pink flowers on them, and as the packaging clearly showed, they were intended for women (“The Original Beer For Women,” and “Queen Size Cans”). While women and men have very different taste preferences (women prefer sweeter drinks, while men like bitter drinks), simply wrapping up the existing product in a feminine package did not cut it.

Which is why I think pink guns are destined for the dustbin of marketing failures. The women I know who use guns are not exactly the girly-girl type, so I doubt pink would be on their palette of preferences anyway. A pink iPod Nano or cell phone is one thing, but those are mere fashion accessories. There is nothing pretty about pink firearms, though. They may indeed sell some of these girl guns, but if Remington thinks they’re going to convince women to take up hunting and other related sports just because pink guns are available, they may as well go ahead and point one of their masculine-colored guns at their feet and pull the trigger.

Dr “Out Of The Sight” Gerlich



  1. I’m not sure the point is to convince women to hunt – this stuff is targeted at women and girls who are already hunting or shooting, or who are predisposed to hunt or shoot. We’re out there, believe it or not.

    Women hunters have a hell of a time finding anything that’s made for us. While pink is not my style – and in fact I’ve made fun of these guns – it may delight some of my fellow huntresses or target shooters. Frankly, I’m thrilled when the industry actually thinks of me.

    The cell phone analogy actually works here: The fact that a cell phone is pink or covered with bling isn’t what convinces a girl to take up using cell phones; it’s merely what convinces her to buy that particular phone, rather than something in a macho ESPN motif.

    For the record, the ones really trying to get women to hunt are the state agencies that regulate hunting, and organizations like Becoming an Outdoorswoman (BOW). These outfits are providing many special opportunities for women designed to give us a comfortable environment in which to learn.

    Also for the record: I’ve seen photos on hunting chat rooms I frequent that portray hunters’ little girls proudly holding those pink rifles. They’ve been on the market for a while – people are buying them.

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