ECN CoverE&C Commissary News

Editorial Comment — November 2014

Big Bad Wolf•Mart ...

Why would anyone in the military resale marketplace invite the big bad wolf into the house, or worse yet, to dinner?

One thing that distinguishes the companies, corporate divisions, brokerages, distributors and representatives in this marketplace is that they are military-focused, often exclusively military-specific; their military business is not an afterthought. It’s part of what makes the marketplace special, as support for the military is rooted in personal and family experience, and explains a lot about why people in this industry go the extra mile.

Everyone at the table has a big stake in military resale.

With that in mind, we have to ask why any military media would want to run advertisements in their pages that encourage military families to shop off base at their nearest mass merchant? The same goes for ads for other businesses or services competing with on-installation facilities that support military quality of life, or that return a dividend to military servicemembers. Urging customers to shop off base stands to erode both on-base resale operations and morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) programs, the dividend, and ultimately the quality of life of the patrons that use them.

Certainly, the economy has had an effect on many ad budgets — except perhaps for the largest mass merchants, who continue to pour significant parts of their marketing budgets into luring military patrons to the stores they have built right outside the gate or just down the road. If, as a result, military shoppers divert more of their shopping trips away from commissaries and exchange facilities, the eventual outcome of dwindling sales could be the closure of the very outlets on base where the papers and magazines that carry such advertising are distributed.

There isn’t much that the military resale systems can do to combat this, other than offer the best deals they can. Commissaries can’t really advertise. However, if the exchange systems were to add a “Don’t forget to shop your commissary” tagline or more fully developed promotional support in the outside advertising they do, it might encourage additional shopping trips to the base. And that just might drive more second-stop shoppers into their exchanges.

It’s food for thought, and far better than the alternative: taking food off resale’s plate, or worse, inviting the big bad wolf to dinner.

About the Meeting …

In a world that demands continuing improvement and time optimization, the recent American Logistics Association (ALA) Conference was, overall, an improvement.

A great deal of thanks goes to all the services and DoD representatives for attending, for bringing folks up to speed and for much-needed interaction … and also to those who brought them in to speak and interact with members.

But ... there’s still a ways to go.

For instance,

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