Most don’t think of the military as consumers. Their discretionary spending is huge. Tap into it.
© 2016. Military Out-Of-Home, Oak Hill, NY
$200 billion represents the discretionary spending of the 8 million plus members of the U.S. Military Consumer Community including active duty, reserves, and retired personnel and their immediate family across all branches of service. They are spread across the country, concentrated on and around military bases mostly in “B” and “C,” and even more than a few “D” counties. Much of the segment works and lives outside the 50 largest DMAs where many consumer products spend most of their marketing dollars.
We often don’t think about them as consumers because our exposure to service members is typically limited, unless one happens to live near one of their installations. Just as their workdays are centered on their bases, so is their leisure and family time. Bases are “towns” unto themselves with fitness centers, golf courses, pools, bowling alleys, clubs and pubs, supermarkets, and lots of recreation facilities like auto skills centers and such where they spend their time after the workday. Many have Youth and Child Development Centers and offer assistance with school in neighboring areas. Often, there is no need to leave the “town.”
But what makes this group hard to reach is what really makes them so desirable. These are not “couch potatoes” but very active consumers – typically younger, physically fit, 85% male, with steady incomes, money to spend on higher education, formal post high school classroom study and hands on training. They are early adopters of new technology, and generally more worldly. What’s more the group refreshes itself annually ensuring long-term potential.
Military life also has predictable events, i.e., boot camp graduation, selection for specialty training, marriage, relocation, and other life events that translate into more and easier to target moments that trigger all kinds of purchase decisions. As compared to their civilian counterparts, they marry younger and have children sooner, and spend disproportionately more on education, personal grooming, cars, truck, motorcycles, movies and personal entertainment, gadgets and gear, DIY, etc.
So How Are They Hidden in Plain Sight?
Because you miss them if you use only traditional media:
- They mostly live outside the top 50 DMAs where most ad dollars are spent
- Many are 18 to 34 year-olds who don’t go to newspapers as their parents once did
- Their busy, active lifestyle affords much less time for television
- Traditional direct mail is practically non-existent since military post offices are not required to deliver 3rd class mail
- Personal cell, mobile internet access, and even desktop access can be limited for security reasons. Even desktop computers on base are restricted.
So How To Reach Them?
Out-of-Home advertising located throughout bases where they work and live. Military OOH presents a variety of targeting opportunities. Making use of a selection of the wide array of facilities where OOH can be placed is an ideal way to broadly reach Married or Single Service Members, Families with young children, Retirees, and even more focused audiences like Automotive DIYers, Fitness Freaks, Travelers, Outdoor Adventure Seekers, avid Golfers, those in need of a loan, those about to move again, those looking for a new ride, troops who work with their hands, and much, much, more.
Since each base has at least one over-arching specialty, it may also be possible to filter for more of what you are looking for by first targeting specific bases. Navy SEALS, Army RANGERS and Special Forces Marines are heavily clustered in specific locations. Most Submariners come up for air in just a few different places. Cyber Warriors code away at just a few more bases. Troops working in the Medical Arts are bound to pass through Ft. Sam Houston at some point. The same is true of training to become Military Police, Combat Engineers, and Fighter Pilots to name just a few more jobs with highly-defined profiles that can be leading indicators for purchase of particular products and services from some companies.
Also, some bases are well known for their military schoolhouses….like the Sargeant Majors Academy or the Army and Navy War Colleges, if you were looking for leaders in their field. Some military installations are conspicuous for the presence of DoD civilians and Government Contractors working on base in numbers that exceed the active duty headcount. Most people are also unaware that certain military bases serve as temporary training locations for other government service personnel, like Border Patrol and the FBI.
An intimate knowledge of bases, their mission, their array of advertising assets, and activity can and should inform every media buy. This knowledge will make a media buy more cost-effective and more affordable, help reach the most likely buyers, build awareness and drive more qualified leads or foot traffic to an e-commerce site, a retail venue, an event, and/or your sales team.
There are an array of media options—framed posters, large format indoor or outdoor vinyl banners, digital video screens, bowling alley monitors, on-base movie theater screens, take-one racks, base website advertising, and, of course it is possible to aggregate selected IP addresses to build your digital analytics refine your marketing strategies.
Since no two bases are alike, be sure to choose an experienced on-base media partner with granular knowledge, deep knowledge, and the necessary collection of decision support tools that they can bring to bear on your media planning and buying assignment.
© 2016. Military Out-Of-Home, Oak Hill, NY