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A Memorial Day Salute: Hats Off to Habits of Veterans

3 minute read | May 2019

As Americans gear up for summer and the Memorial Day weekend, we want to remember the real reason we celebrate—to honor members of the military who have made the greatest sacrifice for their country while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

All across America this holiday weekend, Americans will fire up their BBQ grills at picnics, beach getaways and backyard socials. But our leisure activities don’t end there, and veterans, like everyone else, will engage in an array of recreational activities, including grilling, gardening, fishing and golf.

According to the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics (NCVAS), there are 20 million veterans in the U.S. today. Yet as detailed in our Beyond the Uniform, a Look at Today’s Veteran Consumers report, brands, advertisers and companies must be able to anticipate trends and gain an understanding of what’s driving content and product consumption in order to reach this influential group that is growing increasingly diverse every year.

Grilling and Gardening  

When it comes to spending time in the fresh air, many veterans tout green thumbs. In fact, insights from Nielsen Scarborough indicate that 70% of veterans maintain their lawns, and they’re 19% more likely to do so than the average adult. They also enjoy planting flowers or vegetables, as 49% have gardened in the past year.

In addition to finding enjoyment in trimming hedges, mowing their lawns and planting their gardens, they also like showcasing the fruits of their labor by entertaining and cooking for their friends on their grills, as 63% enjoy outdoor grilling.

Hunting and Fishing…and Golfing

When it comes to the great outdoors, 28% of veterans spend their free time fishing and are 14% more likely than the average adult to do so. Veterans are also 35% more likely to participate in hunting activities than the general U.S. population, as 12% report having done so in the past year. In addition, 15% stay active on the links, as they’re 20% more likely to golf than their peers.

Veterans Give Back

While veterans participate in many outdoor activities, they’re also likely to give back to the community through charitable organizations. Thirty-nine percent donate to religious organizations and are 15% more likely to do so than the average adult. Not surprisingly, veterans are 166% more likely than the average American to donate to military/veteran’s causes, as 37% report having done so in the past year. Veterans also take interest in the politics of our country. Eleven percent have donated to political organizations and are 60% more likely to do so than the average adult.

Veterans Watching TV: Movies, Sports and Local News

Veterans also prove to be avid TV watchers across a broad spectrum of genres. While movies is the No. 1 genre among veterans at 64%, they watch fewer movies than the general U.S. population. Comparatively, these consumers are 28% more likely to watch sports programming (57%) than the general population. When it comes to staying informed about the news of the day, veterans are 28% more likely to watch local evening news and 18% more likely to watch the local morning news at 57% and 46%, respectively. Learning is also high on the list for veterans, who are more likely to watch documentaries than the average U.S. adult.

Marketers and advertisers seeking to reach these consumers would be well advised to consider these preferences in their efforts to communicate with this audience.


Nielsen Scarborough has been measuring media, retail and lifestyle habits on a national and local level for more than 40 years. Each year, Scarborough surveys over 200,000 individuals across the U.S. Survey methodologies vary by local market with measurement tactics including phone interviews, survey booklets, television diaries and internet surveys. Veterans are defined as retired or discharged members of the U.S. Armed forces as surveyed in the 32 Scarborough markets in which there is a military presence.

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