Tooning In

Gaining Access

Are you overlooking a lucrative market? If you haven't considered marketing to the disabled, you might be limiting your customer base.

"As consumers, the disabled are the fastest-growing market segment in the nation," says Urban Miyares, president of the Disabled Businesspersons Association. "That's primarily because people are living longer and [engaging in more hazardous activities], such as hang-gliding and jet skiing and all those other things that are creating more disabilities at a younger age."

The Internet, in particular, is helping connect disabled persons with the marketplace. "The Internet is the buzzword in the disabled community," says Miyares.

But should you target this market, be prepared to tailor your approach. In addition to making product modifications, you'll need to reexamine your business's marketing efforts. "Our buying patterns tend to be a bit different than regular consumers'," says Miyares. "We tend to buy products based more on [personal] references than advertising hype. We're cautious buyers--but loyal consumers."

Remember, however, that loyalty must be earned. Doing something as simple as, say, making your company's Web page accessible for all (including the visually impaired) is a good way to start. "In the long run," surmises Miyares, "you'll find out the disabled may just become your most valuable customers."

Watch for our roundup of the hot trends for 1998 in next month's issue. We guarantee this will be one issue you won't want to miss.

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This article was originally published in the November 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Tooning In.

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