The reason many companies indicate why they aren’t targeting consumers with disabilities is because of ‘limited budgets’. Can you imagine what would’ve happened if Dove Soap didn’t target real women with a range of body shapes, Old Navy didn’t target tweens, and Chipotle didn’t target millennials? These brands would have missed a loyal following of consumers, sales would remain stagnant and stock prices would be flat.
Why hasn’t this same attention been placed on the disability market? There are 56 million people in the United States with disabilities, with aggregate disposable income of $544 billion. Why aren’t more companies targeting them as guests, customers and employees? Why, when budget planning takes place inside of companies, is the disability market placed at the back of the new markets discussion? There seems to be avoidance or lack of understanding. Once this gap is closed, then companies can penetrate and retain new consumers.
As many companies are ramping up for 2016 budget planning, here are a few things you should know about consumers with disabilities that will shorten the typical learning curve:
- The global estimate of the disability population is 1.2 billion people.
- There are 56 million people with disabilities in the United States, with a disposable income of $544 billion.
- Friends and family understand disability and are also loyal consumers. There are some 100 million+, with a disposable income of $3.9 trillion.
Source: Return on Disability
That’s a lot of people. And a lot of money.
Armed with these facts, the time is now to begin shifting the internal discussion about the disability market from compliance to value that’s created by building a relationship with these consumers and their friends, families and/or caregivers. As this shift is taking place, there are a few key questions that must be honestly answered:
- What does our company understand about the disability market, as it relates to products/services?
- Who is our ‘ideal’ customer who is connected to disability?
- What’s important to them?
- Where are they?
- How can we most effectively reach them?
- What do they want to hear from our company?
- What is the most important driver in their purchase decisions?
- What do we need to know that we do not currently know about this market?
- What initial steps do we need to take?
Questions like these have been answered by global brands about the African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and LBGT markets. The reality is that budgets didn’t get in the way of companies formulating strategies to reach multicultural markets, (or niche markets for that matter). Isn’t it high time that the disability discussion change as well?
If you feel your organization is ready to head into a new direction in how it employs, markets to and serves the people who have disabilities; and if you’d like to ask questions related to your company’s disability marketing, contact the SMG Team for a 30-minute discovery call. To schedule, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carmen D. Jones