When thinking about Milwaukee, images of the Brewers or beer come to mind. However, Milwaukee is also known for a lot more than baseball and beer.
Okay, not a lot. Oh, I forgot about Laverne and Shirley. However, to those that live in Chicago's far Northern Suburbs like Gurnee, Waukeegan, Grays Lake, and others, Milwaukee is known for General Mitchell International Airport, a convenient, often less expensive, and easier way to fly from the Chicagoland area than make a trip to O'Hare or Midway. In fact, for those that reside in the upper Northern Illinois area, going to Mitchell is the only way to fly.
According to the USA Today, that's just fine with the airport. In fact, Mitchell has become of the nation's "go-to" airports for those within driving distance due to discounted fares during a period that saw airport traffic declining as a whole. According to the USA Today report, AirTran (once known as ValuJet) is certain that they can turn Mitchell into Chicago's third hub. While to many, this seems like a stretch, when traffic, construction, and airport congestion are factored in, flying out of O'Hare vs. Mitchell takes the same amount of time. However, the fares are usually less at Mitchell.
Loree Krause, a Gurnee resident, uses Mitchell on a regular basis to fly her granddaughter from Clearwater to Chicago due to the ease of travel and lower fares.
AirTran's CEO stated that its been their strategy to target the Illinois. "Within 60 miles of Milwaukee, there are about 3½ million people. Part of the market certainly extends into northern Chicago. So we think there's a lot of potential from north Chicago." Which makes a lot of sense considering that the population of Milwaukee and the surrounding areas has about one million residents.
Is there value in promoting Mitchell to Illinois residents? Claritas, a widely used consumer segmentation software, shows the following data regarding the Milwaukee DMA from2008:
Milwaukee, WI DMA
Median Age: 37.5
Average HH Income: $66,252
However, the city population estimation in 2008 was just over 604,000 according to the US Census. When compared to Chicago, Milwaukee pales in comparison in the sheer amount of people. Yet, looking at the cities in Northeastern Illinois shows that there are a few million high-income, upwardly mobile business and pleasure travelers that might make the drive to Milwaukee rather than fight their way to O'Hare. This is the audience that the airport could potentially target with an advertising effort.
The competition between the airports carriers -- mainly Midwest, AirTran and Southwest -- is expected to heat up when AirTran announces new routes this week. This may spark more initiative for Chicago travelers to look north.