Bases play host to millions of people every day. And most don’t wear a uniform.
© 2016. Military Out-Of-Home, Oak Hill, NY
Just as it is true that no two bases are alike, it also true that there are no less than seven different population segments on every installation, every day. Without being as close to the military consumer as we are, it is easy to overlook this opportunity to reach these employed and empowered people in their uncluttered-by-advertising environment.
First, of course, are the active duty service members –1.4million strong, 85% male and 15% female, 80% between the ages of 18 and 34, approximately 56% are married. The second group is their family members and children—approximately 2.4 million—nearly 800,000 spouses and 1.6 million minor children. Active duty service members tend to marry and have children at an earlier age than their civilian counterparts.
The next two segments are people that come to work on base every day—federal employees and government contractors. The largest group of federal employees works for the Dept of Defense (DoD). The DoD employs many civilians to help carry out its mission. For example, the Commissaries and Exchanges employ more than 68,000 who manage the day-to-day and tax-free retail operations for the on-base supermarkets, restaurants, gas stations, fast food franchises, department stores, specialty shops, etc., which generate more than $25 billion in on-base and online sales each year. These operations save military families about 20% vs. shopping choices off base, as well as ensure that military personnel and their families – no matter where they live – have access to the same goods and services most Americans enjoy in their communities.
In addition, there are also civilian concession workers who own & operate small enterprises in the on-base mall, such as barbershops and dry cleaners. Even beyond this volume of on-base commerce, military installations are often the biggest economic engine in their community, and sometimes the largest local employer, because they bring to bear much more of DoD’s total spending, beyond the $200 Billion that military consumers have to spend.
There are also many other federal employees whose job worksites are located on military bases because of the easy access to training facilities, useful infrastructure, and enhanced security. If you’ve watched an episode of Criminal Minds or Homeland, you know the FBI has facilities at Quantico MCB and the CIA is at Langley AFB. But did you also know that US Border Patrol trains at Naval Station Meridian in Mississippi and NS Kingsville in Texas? Or that America showcases aspects of its space program at Petersen AFB in Colorado, to name just two more parts of the federal government with offices and operations on base. There are defense contractors working closely with military personnel in the development of weapons and equipment. When the assignments require secure environments, the work is done on military installations. At some bases, these white-collar DoD civilians and Defense Contractors actually equal or exceed the number of active duty personnel.
And the list goes on. In recent years, the DoD has privatized more than 190,000 units of on-base, military family living quarters to real estate management companies that have largely assumed responsibility for family housing on base. To carry out their responsibilities, employees of these companies work on base, drive around base daily, visit Military Housing offices, and even eat lunch at the food court.
Guard and Reserve, numbering more than 2.4 million make up the sixth group. While these people may only come to a base for one weekend a month, and full weeks of training each year, they also make special trips to take advantage of the tax-free shopping and other benefits of military service. For example, Base Info, Ticket, and Travel (ITT) offices provide information about free and generously discounted travel and entertainment offers. These include discounted commercial airline tickets, vacation cruises, hotel rooms, amusement park admissions, and tickets to professional sporting events, etc.
The seventh group is very large in number and they, too, have even more reasons to visit their local military installation quite regularly. The military retiree community numbers 2.4 million and are as young as 38 years old; about 1/3 live within a 50 mile radius of the main base gates. But the driving distance is much less when you consider they have access through back gates using their retiree credentials. Retiree IDs give them full use of free recreation facilities like fitness centers and pools, and nominally priced facilities like skeet ranges at outdoor recreation centers, golf courses ($15/round), as well as clubs, restaurants and tax-free Commissary & Exchange shopping. Many come regularly just for camaraderie with fellow retirees. They also schedule medical and dental appointments at on-base hospitals and clinics, and fill prescriptions at the base pharmacy; what’s more, whether they live close-by or not, when they travel they can make use of the ITT Offices, RV parks or on-base lodging facilities, where a clean, and well-attended hotel room may cost them as little as $35/night, and where they can fill their tanks with gas whose price per gallon does not include any federal, state, county, or local taxes.
Finally, the Ad Hoc visitors who have business on the base on any given day should also be considered. FedEx and UPS drivers are there every day. As we mentioned earlier, installations are huge economic engines in their communities. Most military bases are located in “B” and “C”, and even a few “D” counties. Purveyors of goods and services often earn their living selling their merchandise and services to a base, with people, facilities and infrastructure that regularly need tending. Political officials, from the local mayor to Members of Congress, will visit from time to time. Bases also host celebrities, dignitaries, and high profile visitors, and their entourages.
We encourage you to think of military installations as self-contained cities and towns not reached with ordinary advertising strategies and tactics, and populated by a wide variety of people with compelling reasons for being there. All bases possess their own array of excellent facilities and amenities that make them very attractive—from tax-free and discounted shopping to low cost Day Care for military children as young as six weeks, to auto skills centers where Do-It-Yourselfers with the right credentials can get free and low-cost assistance from certified mechanics to repair their cars, trucks and motorcycles. All bases have extensive recreational spaces–parks, baseball fields, and some even have beautiful beaches.
Bottom line, all bases play host to millions of people every day who will see an advertiser’s OOH message in an uncluttered, and more orderly environment. What’s more ideal placement opportunities can help efficiently showcase a brand message, and/or generate new leads.
© 2016. Military Out-Of-Home, Oak Hill, NY