Last week, I relaunched my consulting business under the name DrumBeat, with a sharpened focus on analyzing the market for people with disabilities. While I continue to offer services in general marketing strategy and financial analysis for businesses in the disabilities market, my specialty will be marketing research and analytics for businesses that want to do a better job of selling to this growing segment of the U.S. population.
Marketing research and analysis is taking on greater importance today, with demand for these services growing at a time when the disabilities market is also expanding. While people with disabilities have always had significant representation – census counts and other surveys put the number at 15%-17% – aging baby boomers and increasing numbers of veterans with disabilities will push the figure to approximately 20% by 2050. In real numbers, it is an increase from ~50 million to ~80 million.
As more people use the Internet on an increasing number of devices – desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones – a staggering amount of data on consumer behavior is being generated by millions of users surfing the Web, engaging in social media conversations, and purchasing items and services online. This provides unparalleled opportunity for marketers and advertisers to better evaluate the preferences of their customers, and deliver more effective, targeted marketing campaigns that result in higher sales and stronger brand equity.
The defining characteristic of the disability market is its high level of segmentation, with thousands of different types of disabilities, yet research in this market is less developed than in other markets. For a market that represents a large part of the U.S. population, and with new technologies and medical advances making it possible for more people with disabilities to enjoy the same quality of life as their non-disabled peers, understanding this market can yield fascinating, lucrative opportunities for businesses. When a business uses newly-researched data generated from Internet usage and other surveys to align its marketing strategy with the specific needs of its target market, its customers are served with better products and services, and the business can generate higher sales. Consumers with disabilities, who often experience poor customer service and a perception that many businesses do not completely understand their specific product needs, would be true beneficiaries of a research revolution that dispels preconceived notions about their buying abilities and product preferences. In other words: better consumer choice for the disability market.
It’s not just a better wheelchair, or an iPhone that doubles as a virtual cane for a blind person. Of course, product innovation for the disability market is essential to increased productivity and participation for these consumers in society. Yet, it’s more than that: when more products and services are made accessible, consumers with disabilities are not the only ones that benefit. Everyone else benefits. Everyone just wants an easier way of using these products.
This is what I hope to do through my work, by blogging about these topics, and working with clients to build stronger relationships with customers with disabilities through market research and analysis.