THE BLOG
01/16/2015 08:59 am ET Updated Mar 18, 2015

Engage Military Veterans: 9 Predictions For 2015

American military and veterans represent a powerful group of 24 million with a powerful cultural connection through their common service. They represent tremendous importance to employers, universities, businesses and non-profits. Few cultural groups in America have a more powerful affinity. Looking ahead to 2015 these predictions can help organizations plan on how to more effectively engage with the military-veteran community.

Veteran Employment Becomes Entrenched in HR Diversity & Inclusion
The populous movement to "hire veterans" has stabilized as many companies cannot garner the corporate image bump some once sought. Those remaining have experienced the real value of military veteran talent and move from stand alone "veteran employment" initiatives to integrate veterans as a part of their diversity hiring. OFCCP-required reporting of military-veteran hiring causes employers to operationalize their practices.

Veteran Owned Business is the New Veteran Employment
The saturation around veteran employment will cause horizontal migration in the marketplace to focus more on veteran-owned businesses. While developed in government, corporate diversity supplier programs are lagging to engage vet-owned businesses. This new focus makes sense because of job creation and the fact that veteran-owned businesses are 30 percent more likely to hire veterans than non-veteran businesses.

Title VII Civil Rights - Veterans as a Protected Class
Look for headlines around victimization of military veterans in employment, healthcare, and housing. If the trends worsen, watch for a politician to introduce this legislation. It won't have a chance to pass but it will certainly "stir the pot" in the process.

"Lake" of Goodwill
The "Sea of Goodwill" toward the military will begin to recede to lower levels as a somewhat fatigued nation continues its support of the military. But a "Lake" is still substantial and at levels far above pre-9/11. Gratitude and acknowledgement of sacrifice becomes the new norm for veteran causes in American society.

Veterans Look For Substance Over Flash
So many veterans, feeling burned by empty offers, are getting more savvy. This applies to education, employment, charities, military discounts, banking and large ticket purchases. Military discount only on Veterans Day? Veteran scholarship is just a bait-and-switch? Hiring veterans is just a company public relations campaign?... Social sharing accelerates this trend as brands bask in high veteran loyalty or run for cover from the incoming volley of backlash.

Increased Military Veteran "Cultural" Advertising
The rise of micro-targeting is causing marketers to rethink traditional demographics and consumer insight. Companies begin to view the 100 million military affinity market in a multicultural marketing context. Advertisers' experience with the impact of the military consumer market's near $1 trillion spending power increases advertising, special discounts, and tailored products/ services.

Military Discounts Rise
Technology like ID.me and Gov-X has enabled online verification of military status. Further, many states are now issuing veteran ID cards that enable easy verification of military status in-store.

Military Video Marketing Revolution
Military affinity is a unique, targetable market but creating content for this audience poses a creative challenge. By 2017, video will be 69 percent of all consumer internet traffic. Online video is quickly becoming a key means for military and veterans to satisfy their information and entertainment need. It will be a centerpiece of all military marketing strategies over the next 5 years. But be cautious, as this audience rejects inauthentic efforts to box them into military archetypes, like the hero or the victim. Leveraging cultural cues is integral to appealing to military affinity audience. As a bonus for marketers, military-themed content has broad appeal and can create a positive brand halo.

MARCH Marketing provides best-in-class military and veteran expertise to inform strategy, marketing, and services to commercial, government and non-profit clients. With offices in Chicago, the agency is one of few that provide these type of world-class marketing and consulting services, and the only with deep expertise into the military and veteran audience. When it comes to strategy and communications to military and veterans, MARCH is the agency to call. For more information, visit us at www.marchcorp.com.