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What Military Parents are Buying For Their Kids

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Military parents, like all parents, want the best for their kids, yet they often don’t have the time to research as thoroughly as they’d like. Military families move every two to three years, and parents often feel badly about moving their children so frequently. With every move, kids need redecorated bedrooms and restocked closets. Knowing that kids outgrow their wardrobes quickly, even when staying in the same climate for a few years, makes parents think twice when purchasing pricier children’s clothing.

All of this means military parents are often torn between efficiency and good deals. They want the details that address their desires for safety, quality, and durability. The ideal marketing campaign would touch on all of those issues, while focusing on the struggles military families may face and offering a compassionate yet practical solution.

Who they are and how they spend

Most military parents have two children and begin their family around the age of 25, according to the 2015 Military One Source Demographic Report. The same report states that 45% of military spouses are within the 26 to 35 age group.

In the 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditures Survey, that same demographic spends approximately $6,000 on food, $1,500 to $1,800 on clothing, and $2,200 on entertainment annually.

These parents often learn how to parent while they are also learning how to parent in the military, which means a lot of time parenting solo. Almost all military spouses spend months, if not years, apart from their service member throughout the course of their career.

Additionally, there are almost 60,000 single parents across the military who, like their married counterparts, rarely have the luxury of living close to their extended family. Planning sales or additional discounts around military payday, the 1st and 15th of each month, is a great way to show military parents that you understand their needs.

They care about quality, not cost

Top quality products are popular among military families. Clothing is one area where durability and cost are both a factor as military families move to different climates frequently.

For example, a military family living in a hot climate may find themselves searching for quality winter coats and boots in preparation for a move north. They want to know that their purchase will last them through the next duty station, or for several years to come.

Most families plan to hand down clothing to younger siblings, and they often swap and share clothing among other military families as well. Clothes bought for one child are typically worn by half a dozen neighborhood children.

Randi Cairns, whose husband was in the military for 20 years, remembers when her children were younger and durability was very important. “When my kids were more likely to stain, rip, or outgrow clothing quickly, I was looking for value,” she says.

Melissa Grundt a Navy wife and mom of two teenagers, says the quality of clothing remains important as her children are now wearing the same clothes longer. “I purchase based on longevity,” Grundt says. “Neither of mine care much for trends, so most clothing purchases are going to last at least a year.”

Military parents value customer service and ease of returns

In addition to frequent moves, many military families have one spouse who grapples with parenting alone, when the serving spouse is stationed overseas or on a special assignment. This puts time at a premium, so military parents need easy shopping options. They gravitate towards brands they know and trust, especially businesses with strong ties to the community. They look for brands who donate back to veterans programs and who offer a military discount. It shows them that the company cares about the military community and veterans.

“Military discounts sway me towards a specific company,” Cairns says.

Other things that sway parents are good customer service, craftsmanship, and quality. For example, when military families move, they often need to replace items destroyed by moving companies. Military.com estimates that the average out-of-pocket expense for each military family as they move is $1,725 —before replacing or repairing damaged goods. Companies who understand the difficulties of moving frequently and can offer a hassle-free replacement, repair, or return are very attractive to military parents.

PCS Season

According to PCS Grades, a company who provides a platform for families to review housing and share experiences, most families learn they are moving early in the year. Marketing household goods and décor for the late spring and early summer will coincide with when most families move into new houses.

Each new house requires new decorations and often new furniture. Many military families wait until their next move to make new purchases for the home, so this is a great opportunity for marketing to them. Furniture that is versatile and can fit in any living room tops the lists of many military parents. Bunk beds or loft beds that can make a smaller bedroom seem big are popular.

PCS season is a ripe opportunity for marketers that want to reach the military market. Learn how brands can help military families move here.