The global hunting market has its sights firmly set on a community of expert consumers, especially those purchasing products in the high-end segment. These prosumers, as they are known, are capable of providing expert-level feedback on a given product, even though they are still considered to be private individual buyers.
March 29, 2023 . 3min read
The market for hunting equipment featuring thermal imaging technology has been experiencing strong growth ever since the early 2010s. This market is home to an extensive community of often expert users sharing the same passion for the game and the same hunger for new products. Estimates put the number of hunters worldwide at approximately 20 million, but legal restrictions and a lack of knowledge about thermal imaging are putting the brakes on the technology's uptake among hunters (only a few percentage points).
In Europe, the technology's use is shackled by legislation, especially when it comes to weapon-mounted sights, unlike the USA where sights are allowed in most states.
However, some health situations may prompt local/regional authorities to relax the rules on the use of thermal imaging devices, which could promote their development over a given period of time or in a specific region.
This article provides an insight into the main factors with a positive or negative influence on the hunting market.
- The influence of legislation on the hunting market
Hunting-related activities, especially night hunting, are highly regulated around the world, and laws may vary from one country to the next and even between regions within the same country.
For example, night hunting is prohibited in many European countries, which obviously restricts the use of thermal imaging, bearing in mind that one of the technology's main applications is to increase visibility in low light conditions.
One such country is France, although its Alsace region is an exception to the rule. Hunters in Alsace are allowed to cull wild boar at night between April and February in an effort to halt the spread of African swine fever from Eastern Europe and prevent the virus from infecting pig farms.
Another rule authorizes monocular vision systems to be used in most regions, although weapon-mounted devices (sights and clip-on systems) and non-handheld systems are widely outlawed. Only certain German states allow such devices for hunting wild boar and inhibiting African swine fever.
However, the authorities may grant some exemptions to the rules, especially to stop vermin populations from proliferating, such as wild boar which are capable of wreaking major havoc. In 2016, these animals caused damage to the tune of €50 million in France.
- The influence of political and social criteria on the hunting market
Growing vermin populations can also have implications on the economy and the environment by inflicting extensive damage on crops and pig farms, especially by carrying and spreading diseases that can lead to soaring operating losses. The need to keep such vermin species in check provides the ideal opportunity to develop the thermal technology with its ability to help hunters track and cull these species.
The hunting community has also engaged with the challenge of managing wild game species and protecting the natural environment through such concepts as controlled hunting, green hunting and sustainable hunting. Although the link between hunting and the ecology is often prone to controversy, a new generation of hunters is emerging with their belief in perpetuating hunting's cultural legacy while embracing hunting practices that protect and give greater focus to nature.
The hunting market can accelerate its development by harnessing this more responsible and measured approach.
- The influence of the technology's development on the hunting market
Thermal imaging technology brings improved visibility in all lighting conditions, even in pitch darkness. It can also strip away an animal's natural camouflage in both the daytime and night-time, unlike conventional optical devices or light amplification systems.
Industry's efforts to continue driving back the boundaries on thermal imaging technology used for hunting are contributing to the development of a market populated by a community of experts on the lookout for new applications, cutting-edge technologies and increasingly sophisticated equipment delivering superior performance. The hunting market mainly comprises hunters within the 40 to 55 age bracket, especially in Europe, who can leverage their high purchasing power to buy high-end devices. This target group plays a key factor in the hunting market's growth and development.
The hunting sector may be influenced by a wide range of factors, but they do nothing to dampen this highly dynamic market. In 2021, the average annual growth rate for the next eight years was expected to reach 40%.
Constant advances in thermal imaging technology are widely fueling the market's development and lending credence to predictions that growth will continue for several decades yet.
For further insights as well as a quick and clear rundown of the capabilities and applications of thermal imaging, as well as an idea of how the technology works, download our free infographic.