There are 70 million families in the United States and the Census Bureau indicates that a third of those are impacted by disability. That means that a little more than 20 million families have a loved one with a disability. There are more subtle shifts in these numbers as 1 in 68 children born in our country are on the Autism Spectrum. This requires infrastructure and social supports in our communities at unprecedented levels, which reinforce equity of education and opportunity.
Why is this information important for businesses to know?
It’s important because it can translate to sales. There are an estimated 56.7 million people with disabilities in the U.S., with an aggregate disposable income of $544 billion. Friends and family comprise 105 million people with disposable income at $3.9 trillion. Companies who employ, serve and market to people with disabilities and their families reach a large and powerful market, which is more than 2 times the size of the tween market, with more than 4 times the spending power.
Families and friends witness the lives of people with disabilities and understand what they encounter daily. They often become passionate advocates and are ready to share about the value of the person they love. There is unlimited opportunity for the company looking to reach this market.
There are a number of things your company can do to target family members and friends. Here are just a few:
- Go where they are: The quickest and easiest way to find family and friends of people who have disabilities is to go where they are: school systems, disability-specific groups, blogs, and non-profit agencies.
- Find out what they need: By completing qualitative and/or quantitative research you will hear not only what is important to this important group of consumers, but what services would enhance and add value to their lives.
- Speak to them directly: Build facilities and services to support them well. Walt Disney World has built in several accessibility features into the rides, as well as the property for family members to tend to the personal needs of their loved one in a most discreet manner. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has provided value-added for people with mobility disabilities, and has recently been awarded the designation of Autism-Friendly Cruise Lines by the group Autism of the Seas.
- Tell it! When your company has made enhancements to provided services and products to people with disabilities and their families, do more than issue a press release. Advertise on disability sites, and reach out to the disability media, establish partnerships with disability organizations. And share what the latest innovation is, repeatedly.
When a company successfully targets families and friends of individuals with disabilities most assuredly they will not only have a lifelong customer, but also an ambassador who will gladly share about their experiences with other families. Word of mouth has more influence that promoting products and services in ads. Receiving an endorsement from a peer, who has managed similar disability circumstances, builds a credible connection that shapes how consumers know, like or trust your company.
To learn more about reaching family and friends of people who have disabilities and the money your company is leaving on the table, contact Celeste Beaty at the Solutions Marketing Group, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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