Marketing and disability
Impaired consumers form a significant market - around 10 million consumers with an estimated spending power of over £50 billion a year in the UK alone. Designers have been increasingly concerned with creating inclusive products that all users can enjoy. Yet, retailers are making it difficult, and in some cases impossible, for impaired consumers to purchase them.
Many impaired consumers struggle with online shopping and rely on conventional retail stores. While the legislation such as the UK’s Disability Discrimination Act mandates that service providers ‘make reasonable adjustments to the physical features of their premises to overcome physical barriers to access’, making retail stores user-friendly for impaired consumers entails more than changing the design of a building. It involves creating a space where consumers with impairments feel welcome and are treated as normal consumers. Yet, many of the techniques recommended to retailers to meet their access obligations make retail environments more accessible but less welcoming for impaired consumers by reinforcing the view that they are different from others. To overcome this social barrier, Cluley and Coogan argue, involves a fundamental change of mindset among marketers who have traditionally focused on market segmentation when designing retail spaces.
Robert Cluley and Tom Coogan will present “Marketing and the production of disability” at the 37th Annual Macromarketing Conference, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, June 13-16, 2012.