There are a lot of players in the fly fishing marketplace. Really… a lot. There are the folks that everyone knows… Sage, Ross, Tibor, Orvis, St. Croix, Patagonia and a whole lot of other gear makers. Given how crowded the field is, you’d think there wouldn’t be room for new gear makers, but there are new gear makers emerging. One thing I think is notable is how these new gear makers are engaging with potential consumers. They are embracing social media in a way that most of the big players just aren’t.
Maybe they are more nimble or maybe it has to do with not having the cash to run spots in all the fly fishing periodicals. Who knows how they’ll end up doing… I’d imagine it is a tough marketplace out there… crowded, low margins, small and shrinking market… we’ll have to see.
Rise Fishing Co.
These guys generated a huge buzz before they had even shipped their first rod and it was almost entirely due to social media. The newest business endeavor of the bunch, Rise is focused on rods and conservation (which is kind of cool). They are rocking a blog, a Facebook profile (879 thus far) and twitter. Basically, they are all over. This is a buy-direct endeavor. You want one of these rods, you’ll be buying one on-line.
Allen & Co. Fly Fishing
Maybe they Allen & Co. have been around for a while, but I had certainly never heard of them until a few months back. Today, they are running banner ads on The Trout Underground, they have a profile on Facebook with 4,371 “friends,” they just launched a blog and are even tweeting (although, with 4 tweets thus far, I’d say twitter is not a big push). Now, I think it is pretty clear that not all of their 4,371 “friends” has bought a piece of Allen gear… they’d hardly be bit players if that were the case. Still… it is pretty cool that 4,731 people have taken the time to friend them… that’s gotta turn into at least a couple sales. Allen is bypassing the shop route… you by direct. They sell a LOT of different items… from reels to lines to hooks and very, very soon they’ll be selling rods as well. Who knew?
Red Truck Fly Fishing
This is the gear arm of Leland Fly Fishing Outfitters (or somehow connected and/or related to them), Red Truck started offering their own brand of fishing rods in 2010 and they have fully engaged the Social Media universe with a blog, a ton of YouTube content, and Leland has the Facebook profile (1,013 followers at this point). I’ve yet to see one of these rods, but since they are a hop-skip-jump from where I live, it is entirely possible I will in the not too distant future. Since they are a fly shop, you don’t bypass the fly shop altogether, you just can only get it from one fly shop, or on-line… at least as I understand it.
One thing that seems clear is that all of these newer companies are really driven by one or two individuals, so the social media-izing is really up to them… there is no stable of marketing guys/gals to implement a big campaign. That should probably make the big players a little concerned that folks with little or no market share seem to be getting some real traction with potential consumers and they are doing so with marketing tools the big players have basically forsaken/overlooked/ignored.
A look at some of the big player websites and what that tells us about their use of social media…
Sage – no facebook link, no blog, no twitter. They do HAVE a Facebook page, but they don’t link to it from their website, at least not clearly (2,192 followers).
G. Loomis – no facebook or twitter link, no blog. Again, they HAVE a Facebook page with 2,535 friends, but no link from the website.
Scott Rods – well… look at that… they actually link to their FB Page… amazing. They count 2,177 FBers as followers and posted on FB 10 hours ago. Still, no blog, no twitter, although they do have a newsletter (that I’m now signed up for).
We’ll see where this all goes… if the new players are able to establish themselves and if the old guard can maintain their market share in a world where there will be fewer fly anglers next year than there are this year. Should be interesting to watch and read about for sure.