What is the Disability Market?


The disability market is the next big consumer segment—comprised of more than one billion people and $1 trillion in annual disposable income.

The disability market represents 1.3 billion people globally who face challenges across three general areas—dexterity, cognition or sensory issues. Equivalent in size to the population of China, the disability market represents an annual disposable income of $1 trillion—and $544 billion in the US alone. When you include friends and family, this adds another 2.3 billion people who control an incremental $6.9 trillion in annual disposable income. Consumers that care about the disability market are increasingly directing their loyalty, and their consumer spend, to companies that demonstrate action inclusive of people with disabilities—as employees and as customers.

Why The Disability Market Matters Right Now

Governments of developed countries around the world are placing greater focus on disability issues than ever before. The U.S. Department of Labor recently moved to equate disability with race and gender under Affirmative Action laws. Stricter recruitment, hiring and other employment mandates are expected as early as the second half of 2012. Likewise, Canada recently passed legislation focused on implementing and enforcing accessibility standards with respect to goods, services, employment and the “built environment.”  Firms that cannot respond to easy regulatory hurdles lose esteem with this increasingly vocal customer base, penalizing valuable brands that miss growth opportunities.  Around the globe, nations are actively pushing for legislation that recognizes this important segment of the population.

Increased Pressure to Apply Metrics to the “S” in ESG

While companies have taken Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives seriously for some time, the “Social” category has lacked benchmarks and metrics upon which investors can act with confidence. As social investments become more measurable, investors are expected to step up their allocations, as they did with environmentally sustainable investments over the past few years.

Irrefutable Business Case—For the First Time

Corporate Disability and Inclusion initiatives have proven to be powerful catalysts for leaner process and smarter innovation. And as with Sustainability leaders, companies that lead in the disability market are considered forward-thinking and well managed by investors. New research validates the commonly held belief that companies which perform well across diversity indicators outperform their industry peers in revenue growth and shareholder value. Finally, for the first time, companies have access to a detailed and actionable information that allows them to generate significant long-term business value across disability success factors.

Opportunity for First Mover Advantage

Leading corporations are increasingly interested in being leaders in the diversity market. Twenty five percent of Standard & Poor’s 500 companies have publicly indicated their interest in this market market—and thus far, six percent of them back up that interest with publicly observable and measurable data. But first-mover advantage opportunities still exist across every sector.