Nielsen: Measuring the Impact of Consumers with Disabilities

John Burbank is President of Strategic Initiatives at Nielsen (No. 41 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list).


John Burbank

Fostering an inclusive environment for associates with disabilities and those who care for disabled family members is essential to our overall diversity and inclusion strategy here at Nielsen.

Our dedicated associates who serve as members of ADEPT (Abled and Disabled Employees Partnering Together), one of our nine employee resource groups (ERGs), have helped create such an environment within our offices, as well as our communities, and their work has been recognized with a 90% score on the Disability Equality Index. One of the more powerful initiatives ADEPT has undertaken, though, is the design of a study leveraging the breadth of Nielsen’s measurement capabilities to quantify and define the impact of consumers with disabilities.

The study culminated in our recent report, Reaching Prevalent, Diverse Consumers with Disabilities, and is the first on consumers with disabilities. The report provides rare and valuable insight into the lives of people with disabilities and their families. First and foremost, our research found that people with disabilities are widespread within the U.S., making up 19% of the total population. Second, people with disabilities are diverse and represent all demographic characteristics. Finally, consumers with disabilities are powerful, representing a $1 billion market segment according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And when we delved a bit deeper, we found that power is especially evident in certain cases and categories.

For instance, consumers with disabilities make more shopping trips, spend more per trip than the average consumer and spend less of their total dollar volume on deals and coupons. In the store, consumers with disabilities spend 20% more on pet food and 19% more on pet care than the average consumer. When it comes to food, consumers with disabilities spend 11% more on bread and baked goods and 8% more on packaged meats. All of these purchasing characteristics and preferences indicate that consumers with disabilities make up a powerful and significant consumer group for retailers and manufacturers who are able to engage these shoppers.

As a caretaker for a family member with a disability, this information struck close to home. I’ve found, oftentimes that people with disabilities, in the workplace or otherwise, do not feel empowered to “raise their hand” and ask for assistance when needed. My hope is that the information in this report makes it in front of leaders at companies around the world who realize the strength people with disabilities can have both as employees and as consumers. As they begin to better understand consumers with disabilities, leaders and companies can design products and provide services that meet their needs and encourage them to thrive the workplace.

John Burbank is also the Nielsen Global Leadership Sponsor for ADEPT.

To learn more, download Nielsen’s Consumers with Disabilities report. The report is also available in Braille.

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