Experience Design

The Next Big Consumer Segment: People with Disabilities

If you’re a digital technologist, you’re likely familiar with the concept of digital accessibility, which has come to the forefront of digital design. Digital accessibility is the ability of a website, mobile application, video, or electronic document to be easily navigated and understood by a wide range of users, including those who have visual, auditory, motor or cognitive disabilities.
Many organizations have begun talking about using accessibility in their digital environments for a strategic advantage.
In some industries, like healthcare, adopting digital accessibility into the design and development of digital offerings is becoming normative, and for good reason. The market for people with disabilities is a massive global consumer segment. Estimates from the United Nations and the World Health Organization indicate that people with disabilities now comprise 15% of the world’s population, or 1.3 billion people, making them the world’s largest minority.
Designing accessible digital products and experiences presents significant economic opportunity for forward-thinking organizations. However, many other organizations either ignore or are unaware of the strategic opportunities – and tremendous economic opportunity – of the disability market.
There is first mover’s advantage when it comes to accessibility:

  • Only 25% of companies in the S&P 500 have any publicly observable activity relative to people with disabilities
  • Of these firms, only 6% are acting in a way that creates material shareholder value
Customer Experience and Design - Build a Better Customer Experience with AEM on Microsoft Azure
Build a Better Customer Experience with AEM on Microsoft Azure

Businesses leveraging the two technologies together would now be able to harness their data for critical insights and predictions, connect customer touchpoints across their business, and drive brand loyalty and growth.

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And consider the opportunity. The global market size and spending for people with disabilities is growing.

  • 1 billion potential customers, when including only those with disabilities (roughly the size of China)
  • 3 billion potential customers, when also including those buying for disabled family and friends
  • Approximately $8 trillion in annual disposable income

Even when just looking at the U.S., the market spend is huge:

  • $544 billion in annual disposable income
  • $300 billion annual spend on disability services

Source: The Return on Disability Company
Over the next twenty years, the 50+ year-old population in the U.S. will control 70% of the country’s disposable income. These users will need digital services tailored to aging-related disabilities like vision impairment, cognitive decline, and hearing loss, making the digital accessibility opportunities even larger for those who take action.
 

About the Author

I'm a Senior User Researcher out of the Atlanta office.

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