Buying power of people with disability

Are marketing people missing out on a buying power of people with disability? The answer is likely, yes. A Nielsen Report on consumers with disability, including older people, states what is obvious to anyone interested in universal design and inclusion. “Disabilities span across age, race, and gender so there is reason to believe consumers with disabilities should not differ much from the general population.” So what is the buying power of people with disability?

Graph showing the percentage of people with different disabilities. It represents the buying power of people with disability

The report, Reaching Prevalent, Diverse Consumers with Disabilities found that one in four households of their sample group of 86,000 people had one or more person with a disability. That’s an important statistic because consumers with disability are higher spenders in some categories. That’s despite tending to have lower incomes. 

Marketing and advertising people will find insights into disability and their significance in this report. For example, consumers with disability are more likely to have a pet. So they are more likely to buy pet food and related products. 

Marketing departments influence what is designed – it’s their job to find out what to sell. If marketing professionals dismiss people with disability, their company will too. An inclusive marketing approach helps the cause of inclusion albeit with a profit focus.

Nielsen statistics on the prevalence of disability within disability segments.

This report is also featured on the Silver Blog which is focused on marketing to older people. There is another item on the dangers of marketing specifically to older adults as this borders on ageism. Older people want brands to focus on needs and interests, not their age.

The title of the report is Reaching Prevalent, Diverse Consumers with Disabilities, and was published in 2016. However, the content remains current. The graphs are from the Nielsen Company report. 

 

Market segmentation by age: does it work?

Two women sit on a bird nest swing.Time to challenge the entrenched marketing theory of market segmentation by age. It follows mindless formulas and plays into stereotypes about older people as needy and helpless. It also perpetuates these stereotypes. An article in FastCo highlights why sectioning out older people leads to negative representations. Or worse, they patronise. 

The title of the article is, Why marketing to seniors is so terrible. It’s based on research by various marketing companies. Online purchasing by over 55s has increased significantly and cuts across stereotypes of older people being tech-averse. Here are two excerpts from the article:

THE ONE UNIVERSAL TRUTH ABOUT AGING
The most surprising finding Tuma and her team discovered was when they asked people to envision an aging utopia–and an aging dystopia. In every single country surveyed, the utopia had generations living together in harmony, learning from each other, and helping one another other. The dystopia, conversely, strictly segregated young and old. Which one do we see most in advertising today?

When was the last time you saw anyone over 55 in a decent ad? The world of oldsvertising is a hellscape full of reverse mortgages, erectile dysfunction pills, and bathtubs that won’t kill you. The video below is an example of a bathtub advert.

Time to focus on attitudes, not age. No more patronising pictures of older hands, thank you – real life please. We are all ageing and we are all individuals 

European universal design standard

Front cover of the Design for All standard.Universal design is a design thinking process so a universal design standard is a contradiction in terms. Standards are fixed where universal design is a continuous improvement process. However, where designers cannot grasp the concept of an inclusive thinking process, a set of design directions is needed. Hence a new European standard for products, goods and services.

The standard sets out requirements and recommendations for extending the customer base for products and services. Statutory regulations are also covered. It’s for organisations that design and manufacture products and/or provide services. The aim is to ensure products and services are available to the widest range of users possible.

The standard covers diverse user needs, characteristics, capabilities and preferences. It is based on processes of user involvement and building on accessibility knowledge. The standard can also be used for complying with legislation and to advance corporate social responsibility. 

The standard was developed by Ireland’s National Disability Authority that houses the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design. The document has the title “design for all” which is a recognised European term, but notes that universal design, barrier-free-design and transgenerational design are the same thing. 

Design for All – Accessibility following a Design for All approach in products, goods and services – Extending the range of users can be purchased from the standards authority

There is a media release explaining a little more. 

Major re-think of office design

A drawing depicting the Library design.
Image of Library design courtesy Clive Wilkinson Architects.

The open office design is dead. That’s according to the designers of offices for big corporates such as Google and Microsoft. The COVID pandemic has caused a major re-think of office design and how people best function in office settings. 

Many workers have found open offices less than ideal workplaces. According to an article in FastCompany, apart from being noisy they reinforce sexist behaviour and make people leave their jobs. 

The three design typologies in the article indicate good circulation spaces, but there is little in these designs that indicate inclusive design principles.  For some people, working from home is still the optimum if office design and office culture do not make them welcome. However, these designs offer space to move around and interact with fellow workers rather than being tucked away in a nook.

The Library is an open floor plan with large working tables, individual nooks and comfortable chairs. Rather like an airport business lounge. 

The Plaza is a kitchen and lunchroom space and encourages social activity. This is the part that people miss by working from home. It might encourage people back to the office.

The Avenue is, as the name suggests, a place for chance interaction with tables and stools and little nooks.

The title of the article is, These architects popularized the open office. Now they say ‘the open office is dead’

 

It’s the economy stupid! But who’s listening?

Front cover of the reportIf it was the economy (stupid) we wouldn’t still be writing and researching the economics of inclusion. It seems no-one is listening to the benefits. But it is good to see that it is still on the agenda. A Centre for Inclusive Design report analyses inclusive business practice and covers some areas not covered before. The report analyses education, retail and financial services and argues inclusive design can drive financial, economic and social improvements.

Jeremy Thorpe from PwC says, “Inclusive design is a no-regrets process that creates significant benefits which are currently being left on the table. It is an overlooked step in maximising the potential of Australian business and ensuring a more productive Australia.” PwC was commissioned for the report, The Benefit of Designing for Everyone. There is also an infographic with the key information. 

It is good to see more work being done on the economics of inclusion. However, such arguments over the last ten years have yet to make their mark. The inclusive tourism industry is testament to that as well as the housing industry. Let’s hope someone is listening and willing to act.

 

The Business of Age-Friendly

A clothes store with jackets hanging and a table with other clothes.Many businesses would like to expand their customer base to include older people and people with disability, but not sure how to do it. Utilising a checklist is one way to start thinking about it. Several organisations have produced checklists and other information to help businesses understand what they can do. Much of it costs little or nothing. Here are just three.

COTA TAS has a checklist that has a rating scale from excellent to needs work. It covers external environments, shop entrances, safety, comfort, and staff training, and much more. It’s nine pages and easy to read.

AgeUK has a more comprehensive document that provides the reasoning behind some of the “Top Tips’. These include telephone interactions, websites, and resolving complaints. Toilets, seating and other physical factors are also included. This is a report based on consumer workshops.

Of course being age-friendly means being friendly to all ages. Many of the suggestions are compatible with the needs of people with disability as well. The NSW Business Chamber has produced a guide for small business based on improving accessibility for everyone. However, this short online guide is not easy to read with small text and lots of graphics. It was based on the original Missed Business? by Marrickville Council and the Australian Human Rights Commission. It is also useful for local government authorities.

Communicating at Camp Manyung

Front cover of Communication Access for AllWe all like to get our message across. Communication access is just as important as physical access. So what are the communication barriers that some people face? It might be reading, understanding spoken language or having difficulties speaking. So the way that signs and written communication are designed are as important as well-trained staff. 

A blue and white symbol showing the outline of two faces looking at each other with arrows going both ways between them.Camp Manyung has been a leader in inclusive youth camp facilities and activities. Now they have increased their level of inclusiveness by gaining communication accreditation from SCOPE. Reception staff and activity staff can now communicate with everyone throughout the camp experience. Staff wear the international communication symbol so that they are easily recognised by visitors.

Access Insight magazine has an article on communicating at Camp Manyung that describes the process and outcomes in more detail. 

SCOPE has videos that show how a person trained in communication access uses their skills. 

Customer Engagement by Universal Design

Front cover of the toolkit with three overlapping circles, bright pink, purple and turquoise.Communicating effectively with customers is essential for any business or government service. And right now, online communication is taking centre stage. 

The new guide for Online Meeting Accessibility is a supplement to the Customer Communications Toolkit for Public Service. It takes you through the steps of planning and conducting an online meeting, and following up afterwards. The focus is on accessibility and inclusion with many helpful tips.

The Customer Communications Toolkit for Public Service covers planning, training and informing staff and contractors. It takes a universal design approach and is useful for any organisation.

The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design has two more toolkits  for private and public entities. They are guides to effective and inclusive communication using a universal design approach. 

Customer Engagement in Tourism Services Toolkit covers best practice guidance for customer engagement using case studies. The four sections cover business objectives, written communication, face to face, and web communication.

Customer Engagement in Energy Services provides best practice guidance for customer communication. In four parts it covers: written form, face to face, telephone and video.

The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design has many more resources on the built environment, products and services and technology/ICT.

The process for developing the guidelines and what was learned covers research, policies, standards and guidelines. Lessons from Good Practices to Guide Universal Design Toolkits includes advice for other toolkit authors. 

Design for Dignity Guidelines

The Design for Dignity guidelines cover all the elements in a major urban renewal project. The guide is based on the principles applied in the development of Barangaroo South in Sydney. It covers public domain, wayfinding, commercial and retail precincts, and workplaces. Stakeholder engagement is also covered. The pictures clearly explain the do’s and don’ts and why the details matter. The guide is comprehensive and easy to read, and has a list of resources at the end.

The story behind these guidelines began when Lend Lease commenced the development of Barangaroo South, Their policy was to to go beyond compliance – the bare minimum in access. They felt they could do better and strive for a universal design approach. With the assistance of Australian Network on Disability (AND) and Westpac, they developed Design for Dignity Guidelines: Principles for beyond compliance accessibility in urban regeneration.  An excellent resource for interior designers as well as urban planners.

Online Meetings: Middle Class Standard Time?

A laptop screen shows several faces of people who are meeting online.Are your online meetings inclusive? Or did you get caught up in a middle class meeting culture? An article from The Commons discusses this and the need to consider the wellbeing of the group while trying to get through every agenda item. The article lists some key phrases that indicate you might be driving the meeting to hard and fast. For example, “As you can see, we’re packing a lot in today”, and ” We’ve got a lot of ground to cover in the time”. Phrases like these indicate you might be on Middle Class Standard Time says Andrew Willis Garcés.

Garcés discusses middle class values in the context of the business meeting. Workaholism, formal relationships, focus on task above all else, hierarchy and conflict avoidance. He goes on to look at the consequences of the Middle Class Standard Time and ways to avoid them. Other resources include, Leading Groups Online

A really insightful piece that can help us to recognise our biases and improve our online meetings. Easy read.