Exploring a $55-billion Untapped Market

People with disabilities and their families represent 53 percent of our consumer base in Canada, controlling more than $366.5-billion of consumer spending. 

This opinion piece by Rich Donovan of the Return on Disability Group that appeared in the Globe and Mail business section decries the short-sightedness of ignoring a pool of 6.2 million potential employees and $55.4-billion in disposable income. Ignoring this untapped market, the writer says, “is not smart business.”

People with disabilities represent almost 20 percent of the Canadian market and much of its economic power is untapped. Businesses, then, must start asking the right questions to uncover ways to attract this valuable sector as customers.

His recommendations to business, summarized, are:

  • Talk to your customer.  The easiest way to discover what a customer wants is to simply ask them. Businesses focus on these demands all the time, but rarely in the disability space.
  • Be attractive, not merely inclusive. Focus less on the minimums and more on those things that drive great experiences for your customers – like anyone else, those connected to disability need to be wooed if you expect to earn their business and maximize net revenue.
  • Hire and engage talent for productivity and innovation. The war for talent is back. Labour markets are tight and recruiters are busy again. Actively recruit where you have had success, using an attractive disability message. Highlight career and company success, which is appealing to all potential employees.
  •  Define success and be accountable. Specific goals are needed. Management must hold teams accountable to cross the finish line.
  •  Make continuous improvement. Getting this right takes iteration of a process rooted in clear strategy and owned by senior leaders. One-off campaigns must be replaced with an ongoing process that attracts people with disabilities in ways that add value.

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