In the wake of such natural disasters as Hurricane Sandy, as well as many floods, earthquakes and tornadoes, survival prepping has become less the territory of doomsday criers and more common among the general public. Indeed, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends every household create a emergency preparation kit. Entrepreneurs can take advantage of this growing niche by building a business that caters to this consumer base.
Research Your Customer Base
As with any business, you need to know who your customers will be. Typically, survival kits tend to evoke images of doomsday preppers and conspiracy theorists. This is certainly a group that will bring a good deal of business, but natural disasters have driven the everyday consumer to the world of emergency preparedness as well. These consumers may be even more likely to purchase all-in-one kits, as they are less likely to spend time researching the specific items they need.
Design Survival Kits
You will want to design at least one survival kit, though your business is likely to be more profitable if you can design a variety. They can be based on specific natural disasters, such as floods or tornadoes, or you can create different kits for home, auto, school and office use. The American Red Cross provides a list of common items for survival kits (see Resources). Use these as a basis for designing your kits, then add other items, such as filter bottles and canteens. Designing a kit specifically for doomsday preppers could be a smart decision. You can also design kits for schools and businesses. Enable customers to design their own survival kit, choosing the specific items they want. Set up a partnership with a company that will print personalized logos on the kit bags.
Sell Items Individually
Sell survival kit items separately to boost your customer base, either online or in a brick-and-mortar format. These individual items tend to be more alluring for avid preppers, as they prefer to create their own survival kits. This type of customer is still a good candidate for the kit bags themselves. Buy items in bulk, whether you sell them individually or separately.
Selling online is important for most retailers in today's global market. However, knowing that your customer base will include some highly suspicious individuals, emphasize to your customers that they can opt out of any emails or newsletter distribution. Some of this demographic will not want to feel as if they are being tracked or monitored. Keep that in mind as you design your website and you will build trust in the survival prepping community.
Stay abreast of doomsday scenarios and natural disaster preparation. Know where in the world disasters are imminent, and market your products in disaster-prone areas (such as Tornado Alley in the American Midwest). If you market a variety of kits, market them in the correct areas; for instance, marketing hurricane kits in the Midwest would likely be a total flop, as would marketing tornado kits in California.
Combining your retail business with a survival or disaster prep blog could build rapport within the community and bring business to your door. Customers interested in survival preparation place a great deal of value on trust and knowledge. Make sure your business exudes a sense of preparation, safety and understanding of the crises that drive the market for your products. Don't leave your customers feeling that you are taking advantage of their desire to protect their loved ones. Your customers are literally placing their safety and lives in your hands, so focus your business on quality and trust.
JD Thornton has recently achieved an advanced Bachelor's degree in business analysis from Bellevue University, and is returning to complete her Master's in organizational performance.