August 8, 2011 – Yamaha has history of targeting hunting segment

What’s the best way for an OEM to reach the hunting segment?
For starters, ensuring that your marketing manager for ATVs and side-by-sides has a passion for it.
That’s exactly the case for Yamaha, who has Steve Nessl in the position. Nessl, for one, knows of what he speaks when it comes to hunting. One look around his office walls is a taxidermist’s dream: a pronghorn, two monster whitetail deer, a boar and a javelina. Don’t forget the aoudad and axis deer, and the duck calls and Ducks Unlimited paraphernalia on the floor.
It’s not surprising then, that Yamaha became the first ATV manufacturer to unveil a camo pattern on an ATV, a 1999 Buckmaster edition. It’s also easy to understand why Yamaha has a hunting-geared story updated every week on its website. From “Velvet Hunts” to “Riding the Range” to “Off-Season Gun Dog Training,” Yamaha provides the hunter with additional knowledge about its product lineup.
The company caters to the hunting segment via national hunting and conservation organizations, and their grassroots chapters.
“We’ve been involved with Buckmasters, a whitetail deer hunting association with 350,000 members, for 25 years now,” Nessl said.
Yamaha also is a sponsor of the group’s annual expo. The company’s outreach extends deep into other conservation outfits as well.
“We’re the only ATV company that exhibits at a couple of major hunting or outdoors-oriented shows,” Nessl said. “There’s a high demo crossover for ATV use, so we go to get feedback from them on the Rhino and Grizzly and power steering. It’s a trade show for their customers to go make their purchases for the year, but it’s a consumer show for us because these are the end users, and they’re the opinion leaders in their field. In a lot of ways, we’re right out there in the woods with them. We want to make sure that what we put out there in field does in fact work for them with what they’re doing for it.”
Even though Yamaha doesn’t make any sales from the expo hall floor, Nessl said it helps the OEM steer traffic to local Yamaha dealerships.
“The first couple of years, the attendees would walk into our booth and say ‘Why in the world are you here?’ Then they’d figure it out,” Nessl said. “We’re looking to make people know we’re in support of their lifestyle, and if they want somebody who supports their lifestyle to go to their local Yamaha dealer.”
Those dealers and local hunters benefit from Yamaha’s donation of 10 ATVs each year to Ducks Unlimited. The conservation group annually raises more than $250,000 through ATV raffle ticket sales. Tickets are sold at chapters throughout 12 states.
“I would encourage even more dealers to get involved,” Nessl said. “Dealers are attending the state chapter banquets and setting up displays of their own, trying to make relationships pay dividends down the line. Plus, most of the members are more affluent than the average hunter.”

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