“On the whole, we are looking to expand into areas relating to the outdoors and outdoor lifestyle such as camping, hiking, tailgating, etc.,” Rickard says. Remington-licensed products include apparel such as caps, t-shirts, work-wear, wallets, watches and jewelry; lifejackets; home and cabin accessories such as safes, wall art and calendars; and automotive products, including wheels, lug nuts and automotive accessories. Of course, Remington maintains licensed products active in the core hunting and shooting accessories, such as hearing and eye protection, sport dog training products and even staplers to attach paper targets.
Additional markets include accessories for man caves, such as posters and metal signs with Remington logos and vintage advertisements, scent blockers and odor-free body washes for hunters, and even hunting and fishing trips through Remington Country Outfitters. “That is a way for us to break into the experiential part of the Remington brand,” Rickard points out.
Besides licensing its brand, Remington also enters into joint ventures with companies in which products are co-branded with both companies’ names.
Nearly 200 Years
Founded in 1816, Remington is the only U.S. manufacturer of both firearms and ammunition products and one of the largest domestic producers of shotguns and rifles, Rickard asserts. Its products are distributed throughout the United States and in more than 55 foreign countries.
Among its many new initiatives, one with a substantial reach will be a new television show beginning in prime time in July on the Outdoor Channel called “Remington Country.” Another prominent initiative is the new line of apparel, “Remington 1816,” with shirts, shorts, vests, belts and jackets.
With its 200th anniversary approaching in 2016, Remington plans an extensive promotion of its brand from which licensees will benefit. It’s also important to mention that 2014 marks the 75th anniversary of Remington’s ammunition brand, Core-Lokt.
Remington calculates it makes 343 million impressions on television, 43 million impressions from its consumer packaging and 171 million impressions in print media. The company says it had 16.8 million Internet visitors in 2013, of whom 10.4 million were unique visitors.
With figures like these, it’s no wonder Remington is approached by companies for licensing opportunities. “Our aim is not to increase the number of licensees,” Rickard emphasizes. “We have refused a number of proposals, as we are looking to have closer and better partners rather than having a large portfolio. We don’t believe in collecting royalty checks; we are looking for true brand partnerships.”
Made in the USA
Remington encourages strong interaction between its licensees and its retail partners, which include Walmart, Cabela’s, Bass Pro, Gander Mountain and Academy, among others. “We thoroughly evaluate potential licensees, and we spend a lot of time with their marketing and sales departments if we go with them,” Rickard stresses. The company wants to restrict its licensee expansion so it can give them the time, attention and resources they deserve.
“We do understand that if we increase the number of licensees, we increase revenue; but at the same time, we want to make sure that the product when it goes to market has the right image,” Rickard stresses. “Our core firearms and ammunition products have been made in the United States for close to 200 years. We are one of the oldest continuous manufacturers of products in the United States. So when we look at licensees, we look at ones that are mostly made in America. We’re not saying it is a requirement, but if you look at our portfolio of licensees, many are totally made in the United States. That is something that is very important – it carries our brand identity of an iconic, traditional American brand.”
Remington has several long-time licensees. Among them are Coastal Pet Products Inc. – which makes the majority of its Remington-branded pet products in Ohio – and Outdoor Cap, which has made exclusive Remington headwear for 15 years. “We try to partner with companies that carry that cache of being truly American,” Rickard says. “That is what our core demographic looks for – good, reliable, rugged products.”
The Selection Process
Many factors are considered when selecting licensees. “It’s not necessarily a leading company,” Rickard notes. “We have licensees that are small businesses with a product offering that our consumer can relate to. Our wheels licensee, HD Wheels, is a small business, but does a really good job in designing and marketing products that are close to our core consumers. It’s not a matter of numbers, but the quality.”
Remington partners with companies that share its corporate values. That was the main reason it selected Top Apparel as its licensee for t-shirt and logo apparel. “We interviewed several companies,” Rickard recalls. “We selected Top Apparel for its excellent craftsmanship and corporate values. As a division of Industries for the Blind Inc., Top Apparel makes a meaningful difference through its diverse and sustainable employment practices.”
Remington works with licensees on product design. “We have a large collection of wildlife art,” Rickard points out. “For several decades, Remington commissioned artists to do paintings of wildlife. We own most of all the rights. So we give those images to our licensees for inspiration. We also have a collection of vintage ads for ammunition and firearms from the early and mid-20th century.
“Our licensees design the product and then send it to us,” she continues. “We approve it or we tweak it. People in our marketing department guide them as to how better represent the brand. Ninety percent is the licensee doing the design. They are the ones who know that market. We let the experts decide how to do it, and the experts are the licensees. We give them great flexibility, but at the same time, we approve everything and give guidance.”
As more women take advantage of concealed-carry laws, some of Remington’s licensees – such as Hunter’s Jewels – are emphasizing the softer, gentler side of firearms. “If you go to those concealed-carry permit classes, the majority attending are women,” Rickard reports. “Our brand awareness has extended from the guy who went hunting with his father to the 20-something-year-old lady who purchased the handgun for security.
“We have seen a huge increase of female consumers buying firearms for personal protection,” she adds. “We have a whole new demographic coming to us, and we have to appeal to that consumer.”
Ironically, Rickard points out that the Remington brand’s connection with firearms cuts both ways. “Some companies do not want to be associated with firearms; however, we are also approached by companies that want to associate their product with a strong, reliable American brand,” she says. “People come to us and say how much they respect our brand. Remington consumers truly love our core products, and our licensees benefit from this association.”