2020. The year is barely underway, but if you find yourself scratching your head over the same old problems behind the register or over the checkbook, maybe it’s time to take a fresh look at how you’re doing business. It is the dawn of a new decade, after all, and we are already seeing growing global business trends that could help your business make more money this year.
It’s a difficult reality to swallow as an industry, but when you look around the lake, the tackle store or even the fishing exhibition, you’ll see mainly white males – many of whom are of ‘a certain age’, to put it politely. We know we need new people in fishing, from all different backgrounds, and that inclusivity is a theme tackle brands around the world are focusing on. Now, more than ever, fishing is being marketed as a more inclusive sport that anyone can give a try.
Let’s take one of the industry’s biggest names, Daiwa. The Japanese company has several major programs running in its homeland to try and break down the barriers of stereotypes and show that fishing is for everyone. One example is Fishing Junc, a predominantly social media-based campaign that is simply about making fishing part of your life – it doesn’t matter if you don’t catch trophy fish, or have the skills of a pro angler, you can still enjoy it whoever you are.
Daiwa isn’t the only one. You’ll hopefully have seen the incredible work done by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation in attracting the USA’s Hispanic population into fishing, and also brands like AFTCO making huge ranges of women’s fishing clothing, by women and for women.
So, try stocking that women’s clothing range, run some events to let minority groups try their hand at fishing, educate your staff, and don’t write people off if they don’t fit the fishing stereotype. If you aren’t making efforts to make your business more inclusive in 2020, you’ll be getting left behind.
2. Smart e-commerce
You might think I’m part of the egg-sucking teaching academy with this one, but e-commerce continues to be a major trend in retail and fishing tackle is no different. People buy things online more and more, and the ways in which they do that are constantly evolving.
In the UK, the growth of online retail has been killing off brick-and-mortar fishing tackle shops at a steady rate over the last 15 years, but the shops that stay ahead of the curve continue to do well. The fastest-growing retailer in the UK is probably Angling Direct, which has growing collection of physical stores, but is also a company that does e-commerce very well. It’s not a case of ‘just having a website’ anymore. You need to consider SEO, affiliate schemes, fresh content, seasonal deals, reviews, price checkers, finance options, help channels, blogs and other community-based content that help to shape and build your brand.
If this side of the business is still your Achilles heel, then do something about it. Get yourself on a course, do some of your own research, or hire someone with the knowhow to help keep you competitive in the ever-evolving digital age.
3. Action on the environment
Whatever you think about climate change, one thing is absolutely certain for 2020 – your customers care about it. Green issues are quickly becoming one of the most important considerations for consumers with their buying decisions, and brands and retailers that show they are focused on being kinder to the environment are getting good traction.
Some recent examples include: Costa Sunglasses with its Untangled range, made from recycled fishing net plastic; or UK brand Pallatrax’s Stonze System that uses real stones and pebbles as weights instead of lead; or the entire ethos behind hugely popular clothing brand Patagonia. Brands that put more of a focus on how they are helping to reduce their environmental impact are scoring well with consumers right now. And it’s something you could try and implement in your retail outlets, beyond just stocking more eco-friendly products. Why not organize some litter collecting projects with local anglers? Or work with local fisheries to install waste fishing line bins? You could even work with the brands you represent to try and reduce plastic packaging on products or sell products that help to do that. Even just educational workshops on how to be greener anglers could make a difference and strike up a positive rapport with new or existing customers. Showing your business is thinking about this issue will score major points with modern consumers.
4. Sell experiences, not things
This is an ongoing trend, but one that I saw used very effectively in the outdoor industry during my time working on a camping magazine. Brands that make tents or RVs, or even sell stays on campgrounds, never really focus too heavily on the tech specs of what they are selling in the first instance – they paint a picture in the buyer’s head about what an incredible time they are going to have by using the brand’s products. Once they’ve scored that initial hook, then they move into the technical specifications and details that only semi-interested buyers will properly absorb.
A great example is one of America’s most iconic trailer brands Airstream and the marketing surrounding its Basecamp model. Here you’ll see idyllic pictures of the kinds of scenes consumers want to emulate up front and foremost. There is some technical detail, but you need to dive a bit deeper to find it.
It’s an example that you as a retailer can also follow – try experimenting with pushing what people can do with the fishing tackle you’re selling in your own marketing, rather than focusing on ‘this new John Smith reel can do 374 oscillations a minute’ or ‘sale, sale, SALE!’
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5. Create a community
Some of the best retail stores I have been to feel like more than just a shop. They are an important part of their community and a place where people come, not just for the sole purpose of buying things. This is particularly prevalent in the world of running (another hobby I am passionate about). It’s getting so common for running stores either to have their own running club or host a local one for weekly events, that when one doesn’t you kind of feel a bit shortchanged. Having something like this attached to your store gives you a position of authority in the local community and also brings new and existing customers to you in a reliable way. As a fishing store, you could attempt something similar – why not host some fishing hangouts in your store, where anglers can come and share their stories and ideas over a buffet and a beer? Or perhaps you could work closer with your local angling club or team? Imagine doing the weigh-ins for fishing tournaments on your premises, the benefits would be far more than just selling a few extra packets of line, it could help cement your place as THE fishing location in your town or city.