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 universal design standard for products, goods and services.

The standard sets out requirements and recommendations for extending the customer base for products and services. 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.

Diverse user needs, characteristics, capabilities and preferences area all covered. 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. 

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. 

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. An easy read.

 

See here: I want to go shopping

A close up of cakes, bread and buns in a bakery shop.Shopping is a common human activity. It gets us out of the house and mobilising. It helps connect us to our neighbourhood. But the shopping experience of people with vision impairment is another matter. They are limited to familiar places where they can confidently and independently purchase what they need. This means there are no spontaneous shopping choices. So is this good for retail business and the private market?

The “blind district” of Lithuania is a place created during Soviet rule. It provides fertile ground for research on this topic. It also allows comparison with other parts of the city and the differences in shopping experiences by people with vision impairment. An article published in the Journal of Public Space covers the history of the blind district, disability rights, participation in the market and urban accessibility. The second half of the article is where the research project appears. A novel approach to this topic.

The title of the article is, When Accessibility of Public Space Excludes: Shopping experience of people with vision impairments. by Ieva Eskyté, University of Leeds.

Abstract  The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) recognises access to consumer goods and services in the mainstream private market as essential for full participation in society. Nevertheless, people with impairments rarely enjoy the same rights and consumer experience as non-disabled individuals.

This paper argues that (in)accessibility of public space is an important factor shaping how accessible the private market is for people who do not ‘fit’ conventional norms and standards. It demonstrates how category-driven accessibility provisions in some geographical areas and not in others segregate disabled people within certain providers, create social and consumer isolation, and become a marker that accentuates difference and separation between disabled consumers who live in accessible districts, and the rest of the population.

To illustrate the case, the paper uses empirical evidence from mystery shopping in retail outlets and qualitative interviews with people with vision impairments who live in the ‘Blind district’ in Lithuania. The district was developed by the Soviet Union (1949-1990) to boost people with vision impairments’ participation in the socialist labour market economy.

 

More Insights and Less Afterthoughts

A bald man is standing behind a shop counter that has cheese and other deli items.. More insights and less afterthoughts.Hospitality magazine has a good article on making small business accessible. It recommends thinking about access and inclusion from the start, not as an afterthought. And it isn’t all about wheelchairs. Being able to read the menu without getting out your phone flashlight to see it is a start. While Braille menus would be great, reading the standard menu to someone who is blind and sitting alone is essential, not just a courtesy. The assistance dog is not expected to read it. And this isn’t just about the law so we need more insights and less afterthoughts. 

“While many businesses adhere to protocol, they still aren’t doing enough to truly welcome customers with a disability. A ramp might allow access to the premises, but is there enough room for diners to move around freely once seated?” However, some developers are thinking ahead.

“The Lendlease team took into account everything from footpath width and the design of entryways to countertop heights and amenities when building the King Street precinct in Brisbane.

At the end of the article, Accessibility shouldn’t be an afterthought, is a list of organisations that can help businesses improve their customer service and repeat business. City of Melbourne has an infographic on Good Access is Good Business. It has the key points on a page. However, infographics are not accessible to people who use screen readers. 

 

Shopping for All: Inclusive Retail

Photo of wide shopping corridor at Barangaroo. Inclusive retail experiences.As followers of universal design know, designing with people with disability in mind often results in greater convenience for everyone. That’s why we need businesses to think about inclusive retail experiences and strategies.

The Australian Network on Disability, and Design for Dignity, with support from Lendlease, and the Commonwealth Bank, produced an excellent resource for retail outlet designers. The key is for designers and retail outlets to understand the level of their missed business by ignoring population diversity. Graphs and statistics are used to highlight the lost opportunities.

The missed business point is clearly made: “It is rare in business or design that organisations set out with “minimum standard” customer experience in mind. Designing to minimum accessibility standards is saying that this group of customers doesn’t deserve the same degree of thought, innovation and insight that is invested in other customers.” Complying to Australian Standards does not make for best practice.

Guides for retailers

The guide is aimed at retail business owners, service providers, shopping centre owners and managers, designers, builders and certifiers. There is also a Design for Dignity microsite with the information in a web-based format with more detail.graph of people using mobility and hearing devices

Readers are reminded that disability is more than wheelchair users. The use of other mobility devices and communication aids is shown in the graph above. 

The diversity of the population is often disregarded in designs. Building code compliance is often considered at the end of the design process instead of integrated at the beginning. This guide helps to show the value of thinking inclusively from the outset.

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. The report is based on consumer workshop consultations.  

 

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