Saturday, February 04, 2012

Glockin' Marketing

A recent interview of Paul Barrett on NPR described the rise of the Glock in America, and how it was not only the quality of the gun, but the marketing strategy used that allowed it to become such a huge success in the American market. Designed by Austrian curtain-rod manufacturer Gaston Glock, it was first created because Glock was unhappy with the choice of handguns in the market. After polling gun-experts in his country, he was able to fill a gap in the market by creating a gun with capabilities that filled in those gaps.
"They said, 'A gun with much larger ammunition capacity, a gun that is much more durable and reliable ... [and] the gun should be easy to fire [and] easy to learn how to use,'" Barrett tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "He integrated all of those elements into the Glock, and that's how he won his original contract with the Austrian army."
The introduction of the firearm in the United States was perfect timing according to Barrett, as violence was rising along with the drug trade. Police were often outgunned by criminals; Glocks with their larger-capacity magazines allowed police to better match up to their adversaries. Many cops at this time were still carrying revolvers which held only 6 bullets.

While the quality and capacity of the gun made it attractive, Glock also gave law enforcement large bulk discounts.
"This was smart, because the point was to get the police departments to adopt the gun, and that would give the gun credibility in the much larger, much more lucrative civilian market, where you can charge full price and get your full profit margin," says Barrett. "So this was ... a very crafty strategy."
While law enforcement use gave the gun credibility among the civilian firearm-using population, its rise in use in pop culture (in film, music), increased its popularity among the rest of the population. Glock also apparently cleverly foresaw anti-gun legislation in the United States, manufacturing the higher capacity magazines en masse before they were outlawed, taking advantage of a loophole that allowed equipment preexisting the ban.

While Glock arguably may have been successful in the gun market either way, its development of an effective marketing strategy definitely catapulted its rise and use in America. The lesson here: marketing is important!


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