Male military spouses make up a small percentage of the population, just under 8%. But with organizations like Macho Spouse, designed to support male military spouses, there are several ways to market directly to these men. Focusing solely on the female military spouse has many missing out on this niche market.
Who they are
According to Macho Spouse, there are about 187,000 male U.S. military spouses around the world. Almost half of these male spouses are veterans themselves. These veterans may understand the life better than most, but they still struggle to find their place.
— Military Spouse (@MilSpouseMag) June 9, 2016
Many male military spouses juggle the responsibility of raising children solo while working and taking care of the house. In a piece by Military Spouse Magazine, Keson Bostic discusses how hard it is to parent daughters and be the stay at home parent in a military marriage. Products such as meal planning services, child care services, gym memberships, and professional clothing hold appeal to male spouses. Making these things easier, and cheaper, to purchase, without frills but with great customer service, appeal to this demographic.
Dads, and men in general, spend more time researching before they hit the store, says a report by Small Business Trends. Upon making a decision, they just want to complete the purchase.
What they want
Air Force Veteran and Navy spouse John Thomas has a no-frills approach to commerce.
“The top three things I look for when purchasing anything is convenience, quality, and proximity,” says this working dad of two living in Northern Virginia. “I suppose a military discount or effortless price match could sway me from my regular shopping locations, but the distance and traffic would definitely play a role in my decision,” he says.
Thomas is used to some discrimination for being a male military spouse. While it’s not usually intentional, the small number of male military spouses means they are almost always an oversight.
For example, wives clubs and “mommy and me” functions are incredibly popular on military installations. Even though these events are open to men, there is a distinctly feminine vibe, from the decorations to the timing. If they feel scorned or unwelcome, male spouses will avoid that brand.
Complicated marketing plans are overkill for this population, who are similar to their female counterparts in balancing work, family, and their spouses’ careers. Straightforward information and quality hook these consumers. And once they find something they like, they commit to that product and company.
“It would take a lot to sway me away from a company I have already researched and like,” Thomas says.
Another way to attract male spouses is by making it easy for them to shop. Jay Ha’o lives outside of the continental United States and finds actually getting the product the biggest hurdle.
“I still look for quality, customer service, and fair pricing; especially when I have to pay for overseas shipping,” Ha’o says. “If I’m buying something sight-unseen I want to make sure that the customer service is helpful and the product is quality.”
Male military spouse may buy the same things as the female military spouse, but they want brands to know there are military spouses who are men. They don’t want to be an afterthought.
Once they like you, they’ll stick with you
“Reputation, customer service, fair pricing, and quality of product attract me to a company,” spouse Tom Wahl says. “After I’ve had a good experience, I’ll stick with a company.”
Dan Etter, a representative of Army spouses and a prominent voice for male spouses in particular, agrees. “Reputation is the only thing that will sway me to a new company,” he says. “I shop for a good product that has longevity and fits within my budget. Price generally wins over the others.”
Male military spouses have similar concerns and spending habits as female military spouses. Using similar practices and tailoring them to a male market will help companies stand out among the competition.