The military community in the United States is a close-knit one. Data shows that military service members and their families have close ties to the military community—which can make the eventual transition from military life challenging for many reasons. As a brand looking to support the military community, it’s crucial to understand how you can best support the military transition to civilian life. 

For decades, Refuel Agency has worked closely with the military and veteran audience in the U.S., understanding what makes them who they are, conducting proprietary research, and supporting them. Here are our top tips for brands looking to understand the military transition to civilian life and how to effectively support them through it.

Read next: 6 Examples of Brands That Got Military Advertising Right

1. Once in the military, always in the military 

Members of the military community have very strong ties, and those don’t go away once they end their service. Former military members tent to stay connected to the military community and involve themselves in Veteran Service Organizations. Our research found that three out of four service members have strong connections to Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) like the VA, VFW, and the Wounded Warrior Project. 

Additionally, members of the military community pay attention to advertisements that are aimed at the military community—regardless of when they served. We found that 78%—almost four out of five—service members pay attention to ads that have text specific to the military or have any imagery of their fellow service members. 

So as members of the military community transition to civilian life, it’s important for your brand to remember that their military identity comes with them. 

Read next: If You’re Wondering What Authentic Military Marketing Looks Like, This Is It

2. Education and employment paths post-military

After ending their service with the military and beginning their transition to civilian life, many members of the military community pursue higher education and transition into a second career. Our research found that a third (34%) are looking to explore higher education after service and they begin researching colleges 6-7 months prior to enrolling. The majority of those researching are looking to at least obtain a bachelor’s degree, if not continuing on further. 

Service members are looking for a range of training in a wide variety of careers. We found that the main interest areas of study are business and marketing, engineering, computer science, cyber security, and law. Thirty-five percent are interested in non-military employment, with interest in similar occupations—business, computer info systems, engineering, and security. Federal government jobs are a popular option with 39% of service members transitioning to that field. 

Continuing their education is a big life transition for former military and their families, and your brand can support them through providing support and resources through this transition.

Read next: How to Create Veterans Day Ads That Stand Out

3. The military supports brands that support their community

Data from Refuel Agency’s Military Explorer Series found that the military community is 22% more likely to support brands that offer military discounts, and 26% more likely to show support to brands that are equally supportive of the military community

The military is a community that sacrifices for the duration of their military career to protect and serve our country. They connect the most with brands that recognize and honor this service, and that understand who they are. Our research shows that the military supports brands that support their community, in a lot of different ways. 

We found that 63% of military members have a deeper connection with a brand when they see its ads on-base instead of off-base, and over two-thirds of military members are more likely to try or recommend a brand to others after they’ve seen the brand’s ads on-base. 

Your brand can stand out from the competition and appeal to the military audience by genuinely supporting them through giving back to the military community, offering personalized military discounts (you can read more about that here), and understanding who they are. 

Read next: Military Discounts Drive Brand Loyalty. Here’s How to Implement Yours

Looking to find out how to reach the military audience? The best military advertising strategy includes a mix of detailed consumer data sets, targeted media placements, customized creatives, research, and partnership leverage that can help your message make an impact. You can find out more here. At Refuel Agency, we’ve specialized in military advertising for over 30 years, and we can create a personalized, targeted media plan to win over the military audience strategically. Learn more about our military marketing solutions, or contact us for your customized media and marketing plan.

Liz Carmo

Liz Carmo brings over 14 years of experience with Refuel Agency. While an expert in all Refuel’s core markets, she quickly formed a passion for the military division. Liz has been a pioneer in the military space with building our partner relationships that allow us to keep competitive pricing and top industry knowledge. Her passion towards the military market, creativity, and deep consumer insights help Refuel’s key brands grow their business.