First of all, let me start off by saying that I am not trying to call out any particular brands here. I am writing this as a bit of a conversation starter about some of the things I have noticed within the hunting industry since I started making videos.
It’s marketing 101, find someone with a whole lot of followers, then get them to endorse your product as being the ducks nuts.
Let’s be honest, we have all bought a product at one point in time, based heavily on the fact that someone well respected or famous uses said product.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do this, but I think that you need to be aware as to why that person may be pushing that product.
Even with my meager 700 followers on Instagram, I am approached by sales reps wanting me to push their product (most times unrelated to hunting) in exchange for some kind of discount. They will usually hit you up with some sort of overly flattering compliment about your profile, which 9 times out of 10 shows that they haven’t looked at your content at all, and then ask you to push their content for a 40% discount on their merchandise that you probably have zero interest in.
Obviously, turning down these offers is easy to do and it’s generally easier to just ignore them. However, if a hunting brand were to approach you to push their gear, would it be so easy to turn down?
We all have our favourite brands, and we all know how expensive it is to kit yourself out in the latest camouflage, merino, waterproof, lizard skin, stalking enhancing beanie. So, it is then pretty easy (in my mind) to make the assumption that there are “Brand Ambassadors” out there that are pushing certain products, based on the fact they are getting them for free, or for a wicked discount and not because they truly believe that they are “The comfiest hunting tights I’ve ever owned”…
Please don’t take this as an attack on all these ambassadors. I personally know a few and they are great people and great hunters. I can however, speak with some authority to the fact that a lot of companies are not interested in honest reviews on their products. Now, this makes sense from their point of view, but as a hunter who works hard to spend that $400+ on a new jacket, I expect to be able to find some non-biased reviews out there to make an informed decision on my purchase.
Here at The Empire, we take pride in the fact that our opinions can’t be bought and that we will disclose if we are receiving any form of sponsorship. We approach brands and offer them exactly that, a non-biased, honest review of their products, that costs them nothing except maybe some postage.
We have had very few companies willing to participate in these reviews because they can’t guarantee that we will push their narrative. To be clear, we don’t ask them to gift us these products, they are just on loan. Now, we could purchase these products and then review them for you, but that would simply not be very cost effective for us, as you can imagine.
In my mind, unless your product is utter trash, the one or two bad points I may find with your product would be a worthwhile trade up for some publicity.
So, that was a little bit of an in site into what we deal with in the background when it comes this review stuff. But lets talk a little about the products themselves.
I believe that we as hunters pay too much for what we are receiving, because it is being marketed as “for hunting.’
If you walk into a tramping shop, you will quite often find the same, or even a superior product for a significantly cheaper price. Why is it cheaper? Because it’s black instead of camouflage of course.
When I was in the market for a new pack, I was astounded by the prices of some of the hunting specific packs available to us. They range from around the $400 mark and then sky rocket up to $1,000+. So what did I do? I looked at the packs that were marketed towards trampers. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Osprey offer a no questions asked, fix or replace, life-time warranty and were nearly half the price of the most popular pack among hunters at the time.
Then there are the mass order products from Alibaba. You buy a generic shirt or drink bottle, slap your label on it, and then make a great profit. I don’t really have a problem with this, as long as you aren’t absolutely fleecing your customers, because everyone has to make a living right?
I guess after all that rambling you just read (if you have made it this far), what I am really trying to say is, be smart when you are spending your hard earned money. Dave Perry from Vanator Outdoors is very passionate about looking back at the Deer Wars, when hunters just ran around in old Army surplus woolen gears and still got the job done. Obviously, modern design and technology has allowed us to be a bit more comfortable and lightweight on the hills, but I urge you not to buy into all the marketing ploys out there!
Do your research, ask your mates and then shop around. We’ll keep working the machine to get some quality reviews to you, but in the mean time, go and check out Warfighter Athletic. Fitzy is calling the industry out on pretty much everything I just yarned about. He is working on Operation Toa and I am excited to see the quality products they start producing for us Kiwi hunters.