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When Should You Offer a New Model / Product?

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I decided to organize this as a series of lists, rather than writing it out in paragraphs. If you want to add anything, please leave a comment! This isn’t intended to be a comprehensive overview, but a distillation of the many conversations I’ve had with other holster makers as they consider adding new products”¦

As holster makers, there are a number of reasons that we can consider adding a new model to the lineup.

Reasons to add a product/model, in no particular order:

1.    Major gun manufacturer releases a new model

2.    Local gun store wants to carry the line, but has a specific model that is really important to them based on their historical sales data.

3.    A prominent shooter/trainer/influencer wants to work with you on a custom or signature design

4.    A dude keeps asking for it in the comments section on every single thing you post on social media

5.    A new accessory, weapon light, crimson trace grip module, etc, necessitates a new mold or new product.

6.    You want the product yourself.

Questions to ask yourself:

1.    How much money will it cost me to develop the new product? Will I need to buy a new gun, have new custom molds designed (or design them myself)?

2.    How much testing will this new product require? Adding a thumb safety to an existing model requires much lest testing than adding a new weapon light, or adding an entirely new gun to your lineup.

3.    Are there any new features that I’ve been wanting to try in a holster that this would provide a good opportunity to experiment with? Basically, can I kill any extra birds with this stone?

4.    Will those new features potentially obsolete any of my current products, or make my customers unhappy if they see them on the new model, but I don’t go back and retrofit the existing models right away?

5.    How many customers have already expressed interest in this? Are they steady, long-term customers who I can rely on to buy, or are they random folks from the comment section on a YT video?

6.    Will this move my brand in a direction I want to go, or is this a detour or dead end in the big picture?

If it’s an entirely new product type that you’ve never made before, there are some additional questions”¦

1.    Do I really believe in this new product, or am I motivated by a desire to grab some quick sales?

2.    Is this a product I want to have my company defined by?

3.    Will this product bring a different kind of customer into my business? Do I want that new customer?

Pros and Cons of moving quickly on new products, especially new guns

Pros:

1.    Less competition and market saturation. If you can scoop up early sales when your competitors don’t yet offer an equivalent product.

2.    Opportunities to work or market with the gun company itself. Having accessories available makes it easier for them to sell the new gun to people who want to carry it, so you can sometimes pick up referrals from the manufacturer

3.    Cool kid new toy factor can help make your social media marketing seem more appealing. People looking at or looking for info on the new thing may consume your content because they see you have the new thing and are curious to hear your opinion on it”¦

Cons:

1.    After the initial swell of orders from the early adopters, there can be a sudden drop off in sales, and if you haven’t broken even by then, it may take a LOT longer than you anticipated. 

2.    The product might not ever really catch on, or in some cases, may fail completely (Hudson H9, etc)

3.    Serious users tend to be skeptical of new offerings until they’ve been proven for a while and the bugs have been worked out. There’s a reason why early production P365s are a little dicey on the used market these days”¦

4.    You can alienate existing customers if there are consistent customer service, delivery schedule, or warranty issues and they see you going after new things, rather than fixing the business you already have.

5.    You might end up strongly associating your brand with a product that turns out to be a lemon or a laughingstock. How many holster makers jumped on offering Remington R51 rigs?

Business decisions like this aren’t only math (although there should definitely be some math involved when you consider tooling up to offer something new) but are a combination of branding, math, sales projections and intuition. All those levels of thinking are legitimate, but need to exist in a balanced way.

Hope this helps!

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