Three years ago, the company took on a new ownership group to take advantage of the consolidation possibilities in the firearms manufacturing industry. The result of this evolution, and the acquiring of companies such as Marlin Firearms, was the creation of the Freedom Group Inc. (FGI).
E. Scott Lester, director of accessories and licensing, said this development allowed Remington to build on and reach beyond the hunting and shooting side of the firearms industry by using the strengths of the other brands within FGI. Marlin, for example, was an opportune acquisition because it enabled the company to manufacture and compete with another type of product it did not have under the Remington brand.
But even under a larger umbrella, the strength of the Remington brand and its 194-year history positions it as the strongest. In fact, 95% of the licensing done at FGI is centrally focused under the Remington brand.
“Because of the strength of the Remington brand, we’ve garnered a great deal of business within the law enforcement and military communities,” Lester said. “For the most part, though, Remington continues to fall on the hunting and shooting side of FGI.”
“From a commercial basis, Remington Arms is known as a hunting and shooting company,” said Shanda Roberts, product manager for accessories and licensing. “But our Model 700 Bolt Action rifle is world-renown and used in many platforms, including with the US government.”
Innovation has also played a major role in building the brand identity of Remington. The Pump Action Model 870 shotgun continues to be the best-selling shotgun platform ever produced. Remington is also the only major brand in the firearms industry that successfully handles and innovates the firearms, ammunition, and accessory categories.
“Our ammunition business is one of the top two or three in the US and around the world,” said Lester. “We have a lot to sell to our customers.”
Remington’s extensive history and solid standing in the firearms industry helps when it comes to licensing innovation as well, and it all starts with executives at the Remington headquarters looking for and researching products that resonate with the brand.
“When we identify a specific category, we first see if we have the core competencies to internally manufacture, supply, and retail on our own,” said Lester. “If it’s not something we feel comfortable with, we’ll go through our licensing process to find the number one or number two manufacturing and marketing company within the product category.”
If that company agrees to adhere to Remington’s stringent quality and production standards, product specifications, price points, and distribution platform, a licensing agreement is set in place. With that agreement, the licensee begins the planning, concept, and development phases of the project, at each point of the process checking in with Remington to make sure everyone is on the same page.
“We help write the specs of the product and research types of safety regulations, rules, and manufacturing specs that go along with that product; in the end, we’re delivering a quality product at a reasonable price to the consumer,” said Lester. “It’s very much a give and take between us, the licensee, and the manufacturer as to what ultimately is put on the shelf.”
One recent example of a new product innovation came from the partnership formed with manufacturer BA Products two years ago. The company manufactures a game camera, which enables hunters to photograph the animals in a particular area. BA Products had connections with domestic design companies, as well as production connections in China and Asia.
“The production connections gave us the ability to offer the right price point to our consumers,” said Lester. “Two years later, we’re one of the market leaders from a unit sales standpoint because we created a great product, it’s manufactured at the right place, it’s placed at the right retailers, and it has our brand on it.”
Because Remington also sells direct to retailers such as Walmart, Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, Academy Sports, and Tractor Supply, it also has the power to help licensees break into and sell to big-name retailers and wholesalers. If a licensee has an issue with a specific retailer, Remington’s team will get involved and help make sales calls and presentations tailored for that retailer or wholesaler.
“It’s a holistic approach in that we supply presentations to the licensees that Remington Arms’ sales team has presented,” said Roberts. “Often, the look and feel of an ad or slide presentation will correlate directly with the retailer because it matches the Remington brand and how we’ve communicated with that retailer in the past.”
“Although the licensee may be another manufacturer and the buyers know that, we need to portray to the buyer that the licensee is an extension of who we are,” said Lester. “And that starts the process of making sure the consumer understands that the product on the shelf is a Remington product.”
The power of the Remington brand is what propelled the game camera to its top selling position, and it’s what the company hopes will propel its newest venture with BA Products, a range finder, to top of its category.
In the last few years, sales of licensed products under the Remington brand have grown approximately 20%. Lester said some of the key factors include being aggressive in these new categories while not over-extending the brand. The company also hopes to open up avenues not covered under the Remington brand for the other brands under the FGI umbrella.
“We have brought a lot of great partners to the table, and they see value in some of the other brands, so we’re working with existing and new partners to utilize new licensing opportunities with FGI’s other brands,” said Lester. “For Remington, we’ll be branching out to products our end consumers would use to go along with their firearms’ activities.”