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. 

 

UD, ID, DfA, UX, UA: A terminology muddle

A hand holding a coloured pen is poised over a green post it note. There are drawings on the table and a smartphone. It indicates UX design.The aims of universal design (UD), inclusive design (ID), design for all (DfA), user experience (UX) and universal accessibility (UA), are basically the same – inclusion. So why should we have a terminology muddle? For most designers and practitioners who understand the underpinning principle of inclusion, it’s not a big deal.  But shouldn’t the key issue be about implementation rather than discussing the nuances of terms? Even if we had one term, would that alter designer and practitioner attitudes towards inclusion?

Nevertheless, researchers find it frustrating not to have one term to cover the concepts. That’s because it makes it difficult to know if people are talking about the same thing when sharing research findings. The debate among academics has resulted in many papers on this topic. Some putting forth arguments that they are all different things. Others lamenting the problems of not having a consistent terminology. A few delve into philosophical arguments.

A paper from 2014 is still relevant today because the arguments are still current. This paper discusses historical, methodological and philosophical aspects. It’s a long paper, probably best suited to academics. It covers just about every aspect of the issues. It also draws in the ICF (International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health) and international standards which is quite useful. 

The title of the paper downloadable from ResearchGate says it all, Universal design, inclusive design, accessible design, design for all: different concepts—one goal? On the concept of accessibility—historical, methodological and philosophical aspects.

Editor’s Note: I also wrote on the topic of terminology in relation to housing design, Calling a Spade a Shovel: Universal, accessible, adaptable, disabled – aren’t they all the same? 

Abstract:

Accessibility and equal opportunities for all in the digital age have become increasingly important over the last decade. In one form or another, the concept of accessibility is being considered to a greater or smaller extent in most projects that develop interactive systems. However, the concept varies among different professions, cultures and interest groups. Design for all, universal access and inclusive design are all different names of approaches that largely focus on increasing the accessibility of the interactive system for the widest possible range of use. But, in what way do all these concepts differ and what is the underlying philosophy in all of these concepts?

This paper aims at investigating the various concepts used for accessibility, its methodological and historical development and some philosophical aspects of the concept. It can be concluded that there is little or no consensus regarding the definition and use of the concept, and consequently, there is a risk of bringing less accessibility to the target audience. Particularly in international standardization the lack of consensus is striking. Based on this discussion, the authors argue for a much more thorough definition of the concept and discuss what effects it may have on measurability, conformance with standards and the overall usability for the widest possible range of target users.

Product marketing practices need to change

Graph showing the percentage of the population with different disabilitiesA recent 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. People with disabilities are not a homogeneous group, as each person has unique skills and abilities which impact their unique desires.” 

While serious researchers might have a few problems with their methods, it is good to see that the marketing profession are finally catching up with the notion that there is a large cohort of potential customers just waiting to be served more appropriate products and services. The report, Reaching Prevalent, Diverse Consumers with Disabilities found that one in three households of their sample group of 86,000 people had one or more person with a disability. The graphs are courtesy The Nielsen Company.

Nielsen statistics on the prevalence of disability

This report was found 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.

UD for packaging

This slideshow from Thailand has some great ideas for UD for packaging using the seven principles of universal design. In practical terms, it also shows how to apply the principles to design thinking across the seven principles. Very instructive and educational, particularly for people new to the concept.

The comments for each of the slides helps with understanding. 

Packaging design: no regard for dexterity and strength

tetra packLift that lid, unscrew that cap, pull that straw: the challenges of hospital food and beverage packaging for the older user.

Ergonomic researchers from the University of Wollongong provide an overview of a presentation about packaged food, particularly in hospitals. Their study revealed some obvious results that packaging design has no regard for dexterity and strength. 

Packaged food and beverages are ubiquitous in food and drink provision in all aspects of life, including hospitals. Many people are frustrated by packaging and have issues opening it.  48% of inpatients in NSW were over the age of 65 years, while for the same time, they represented 14% of the total population.  

This paper outlines a series of 3 studies undertaken with well people aged 65 years and over in NSW examining their interaction with routine hospital food and beverage items.  Both quantitative (strength, dexterity, time and number of attempts to open the pack; nutritional status and intake) and qualitative (ratings of ‘openability’) data were collected. The most ‘problematic’ items were – tetra packs, cheese portions, boxed cereals, fruit cups and water bottles. Most packs required greater dexterity than strength and some packs could not be opened at all (for example, 39% of subjects could not open the cheese portion in study 1).

The overarching message from this series of 3 studies is the need for manufacturers to design products incorporating the principles of both universal (Follette et al, 1998; Farage et al, 2012) and transgenerational (Pirkl, 1991) design in order to cater for the global rapidly ageing population and improve pack ‘openability’. Packaging has an important role to play in food provision and if well designed, assist older people remain independent and well nourished.

Alison Bell has published more on this topic, including a PhD thesis