The objectives of the paper are twofold: the first one is to identify the critical variables that influence the process of buying firearms according to the opinion of Italian hunters and retailers. The second objective is to try to identify hunters’ groups with similar generic characteristics and similar behavior in purchasing a firearm for the purpose of understanding customers’ behavior. In order to achieve the first objective we have interviewed 455 Italian hunters and 200 firearms retailers from May to September 2011. Results show that according to hunters the main factors influencing firearm purchases are manageability of the firearms and competence of the retailer; while according to retailers the key purchasing factors are price of the firearms and the image of the producer. The survey reveals that, in spite of these different perceptions, retailers know their customers’ behavior and preferences fairly well. However, the study also suggests that firearms retailers under valuate the weight of the functional characteristics of the product and the hunters’ competences and autonomy in decision-making during the purchasing process. In order to achieve the second objective of the study, we perform a segmentation through a cluster analysis and results reveal that there are six main hunter groups named the recommended, the conservative, the innovative, the informed, the stingy and the maniac. The Italian firearms producers could evaluate whether their current competitive strategy is exploiting these potential market spaces.
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