Family and friends of people with disabilities is market of approximately 105 million. They influence purchase decisions and respond to companies that are disability inclusive. In this video Carmen Daniels Jones shares effective tips to reach this segment of consumers.
Many organizations know they should do more to reach the disability market, but few take decisive action. They’ve answered questions such as: What are their needs? How do we communicate in ways that resonate with them? And, how can we build a relationship that inspires the know, like and trust factor? Organizations that are the most successful know that to reach consumers with disabilities and their influencers, it’s important to understand what drives them. In this video, SMG President/CEO, Carmen Daniels Jones, will share important insights to build an understanding of the disability market.
The disability market is the largest untapped group of consumers in the United States, comprised of 56 million people and represents an annual disposable income of $544 billion. The disability market is more than twice as large as the tween market (20 million), and has almost 3 times the disposable spending power ($180 billion).
The facts alone are not enough. Many companies know they should do more to reach the disability marketing, but few take decisive action. Successful companies know that in order to reach consumers with disabilities and their influencers, it’s important to understand what drives them. What are their needs? How to communicate in ways that resonate with them? And, how can a company build a relationship that inspires the know/like/trust factor?
The Solutions Marketing Group (SMG) has completed extensive research for companies in various sectors and has discovered a few things to jumpstart disability marketing for companies. Among the things we’ve learned are:
- Most people with disabilities receive and trust information on products and services from peers, conferences and disability organizations. The power of an endorsement coming from a trusted source is strong. If your company has built relationships with disability organizations, begin to identify the one/s that have programs or services that align with your company’s mission and explore opportunities to attend events, or add value at their conferences with workshops that enhance the lives of the people they serve.
- Peer review of products is preferred over solely receiving advertisements from a company. Word of mouth for the market is THE most trusted way to reach them. Determine how your product/service be experienced by ‘influencers’ so they can share their experience with their peers?
- Consumers want companies to demonstrate a meaningful commitment to the disability community by employing people, strengthening the buying experience, and placing products and information in an easy-to-find format. How can your company tell its story so it resonates with consumers? This goes a long way to build credibility.
- People with disabilities want to be able to interact with the product or service before making a purchase. As your team plans its 2015 outreach calendar, what disability events can be integrated into the schedule so consumers can see and touch your products?
- When possible, promote products and services in a staggered manner – regionally, statewide and nationally. The SMG Team has found that repeated, consistent resonant messaging that is focused in approach allows consumers to understand corporate commitment to them, and lays a solid foundation for building trust. This approach provides companies with the ability to test and refine messaging and tactics, creating a win-win.
If you’d like to learn more about how to understand the disability market, contact the SMG Team for a 30-minute free call to gain further insights.
A video of a Deaf Florida woman has gone viral with more than 11M views on YouTube. In it, she arrives at the St. Augustine, Florida Starbucks drive-thru window. When the Barista notices she’s unable to audibly speak her order, she pops up on a screen at the drive-thru menu board and they have a two-way chat using sign language.
This is so cool and full inclusion at its very best.
The technology, the empowered employee, and the result of this video captured on cellphone has generated buzz, press and lots of good will for Starbucks. Let’s talk about what Starbucks did right to garner this positive impact:
- It’s authentic. While Starbucks didn’t develop a slick marketing campaign to a launch the video chat, the service enhancement is seen through the eyes of a customer, Rebecca King. This wasn’t forced or contrived and is grainy and honest. While the company hasn’t deployed the video technology yet nationally, it gave opened minds and shifted paradigm in in 45 seconds and within 10 days, millions have viewed the video on YouTube.
- Customer service is the underlying theme of the video. Customer service to consumers with disabilities is the most credible form of marketing. Exceptional service delivery, enhancements and recovery (when things go wrong) garner trust, leading to repeat business. In the video, an empowered employee is free to use all the tools at her disposal to provide a seamless experience for the customer.
- The universal application wins! The high tech video solution was tested in 2,200 stores over the past couple of year to determine if it provided a more personal experience for all customers. It certainly indicates appeal for those who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing who may sign or read lips. This isn’t anything that is ‘special’ but merely a high touch option that humanizes the customer experience for all.
- Starbucks wins. The press and goodwill created by the video has done more for the company than ad buys and media placement to launch the service. National news outlets featured it as a ‘feel good’ story and the video was shared more than 250,000 times from Ms. King’s Facebook page alone. The comments received by an inspired public allows created raving fans and strengthened the brand’s equity.
There is something even more remarkable that is going on beyond the “likes” and “shares”. Countless decisions are being made as a result of this simple and compelling video. Consumers are thinking of Starbucks as a company that uniquely understands the needs of consumers. Competitors are wondering what they can do to position themselves before Deaf consumers. Deaf consumers are most certainly sharing this video within their social networks and making sure that the next cup of premium coffee they buy comes from Starbucks. All of these connections, dots if you will, create opportunities. Opportunities for increased revenue for Starbucks. Opportunities for greater understanding, recognition and respect of the Deaf community.
At SMG, we believe in opportunity. We are in the business of helping businesses understand and connect with consumers with disabilities in ways that are both meaningful and profitable. Give us a call and we’ll help you connect the kind of difference.
Each Tuesday, Solutions Marketing Group offers you advice that can boost sales and increase your company’s presence with the disability market segment. For today’s Tuesday Tip, we bring you an actual case study of learning from your mistakes and getting it right.
In 2000, Nike, found itself in the midst of controversy with the disability community. They published an ad promoting the Air Dri Goat, in hiking and Men’s Journal, Outside and regional outdoors publications. The copy included the following:
“Fortunately the Air Dri-Goat features a patented goat-like outer sole for increased traction so you can taunt mortal injury without actually experiencing it. Right about now you’re probably asking yourself “How can a trail running shoe with an outer sole designed like a goat’s hoof help me avoid compressing my spinal cord into a Slinky on the side of some unsuspecting conifer, therebyr endering me a drooling, misshapen non-extreme-trail-running husk of my former self, forced to roam the earth in a motorized wheelchair with my name embossed on one of those cute little license plates you get at carnivals or state fairs, fastened to the back?”
Is your mouth on the floor?
This struck a nerve within the disability community and the outrage was heard throughout the country. The ad created such a visceral reaction because it was offensive and perpetuated stereotypes. It was pulled immediately after disability rights advocates demanded that it be so, and articles in publications like the Wall Street Journal, covered this horrendous misstep. One of the employees involved in the approval process resigned from Nike, and officials from the company met with advocates in Washington, DC to discuss the ad’s impact.
Fast forward to 2015
In July, Nike unveiled the creation of the Zoom Soldier 8, which features FLYEASE technology, designed for people with disabilities.
The Zoom Soldier 8 story began back in 2012, when Matthew Walzer, a 16-year-old who lives with cerebral palsy, wrote a letter to Nike asking the company to consider developing a shoe designed for people who have trouble tying shoelaces.
He said, “My dream is to go to the college of my choice without having to worry about someone coming to tie my shoes everyday,” according to Nike. “As a teenager who is striving to become totally self-sufficient, I find this extremely frustrating and, at times, embarrassing.”
The letter made it into the hands of Nike shoe designer, Tobie Hatfield. After reading Matthew’s request, he began working to develop a prototype for a shoe Matthew and other people with disabilities with limited dexterity, could wear comfortably. Instead of laces, the Zoom Soldier 8 features Flyease technology, a type of zipper that goes around the heel of the shoe. This makes it easier for people with limited hand function to easily pull the shoes on and off with one hand. The new design includes the same ankle support as Lebron James’s footwear (James is Matthew’s favorite basketball player). How cool is that?!
What our team, at the Solutions Marketing Group has discovered is that when a company communicates authentically to the disability market, it will resonate and shine and gain the attention of the general market, as well as those with disabilities. We applaud Nike for getting it right this time and for sharing the story of the Zoom Soldier 8 in a powerful way.
Check out the Flyease story:
If you are interested in learning how to communicate your company’s commitment to the disability market in an authentic way, leading to building a strong relationship with consumers, contact the SMG Team for a 30-minute discovery call. To schedule, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.