Downtown St. Louis Missouri was a hopping place this past weekend, hosting a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game, a St. Louis Blues Hockey game and the largest consumer-centered shooting sports show in the country – the NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits. But if visitors thought coming inside the America’s Center would help them avoid the crowd, they were sadly mistaken. From the opening bell at 9am on Friday, April 13th, shoulder to shoulder crowds filled the exhibition floor as the 2012 session of the NRA Annual Meeting began.
In January, shooting sports manufacturers were able to showcase new products and services to dealers from all over the world at the 2012 SHOT Show. Although these buyers made product selections that could make or break any new or existing product, the real test came at the NRA show when the consumer could kick the tires and place his or her stamp of approval on what could be the best selling products on the dealers’ shelves for the upcoming season.
With over 70,000 forecasted to attend the 2012 NRA show, manufacturers were able to get products in front of a very passionate and serious focus group of hunters and shooters. Their opinions really matter, and the smart manufacturers were at the show listening.
While visiting displays from all the major shooting sports manufacturers was probably the top agenda item for most attendees, there was also a political agenda that NRA officials wanted to express to NRA members. With a presidential election coming in the fall, NRA members are viewed as a crucial group to influence and all of the Republican presidential candidates were there to gain support. While shooting sports dealers know the importance of appealing to the NRA member for their businesses success, political candidates also know approval from the NRA can swing a lot of votes in November.
At the end of the NRA show, those attending were shown lots of new product innovations and heard lots of political commentary. How this focus group decides to vote in these two arenas could show up in product sales at the end of the year and election results in November. It’s going to be an exciting year.