Normalising Difference

Product innovation and technology moved the inclusivity conversation forward in 2019. We saw winners listening to communities of people whose needs had previously not been catered for in two distinct ways: brands making smart changes to their existing products, like the multi-Grand Prix-winning 'ThisAbles' from McCann Tel Aviv for IKEA. And brands building totally new products to give people the access and independence they deserve, like 'StorySign' for Huawei from FCB Inferno London.

Globally, 15.0% of people have some form of cognitive or physical disability (The World Bank 2019, Disability Inclusion). Acess will continue to be a key differentiator, as brands develop an understanding of how to better serve these communities. So, what’s next?

Insight for the future

The Third Platform

As McCann Health’s Matt Eastwood tells us: “If nothing else, Covid-19 has helped kickstart the digital revolution that had been looming. Many companies quickly recognised that their services need not only be limited to the physical. Gyms, doctors, restaurants, therapists, bars have all gone virtual. Which, particularly for marginalised audiences, may be one of the most positive outcomes of this horrifying pandemic.” As a result of the pandemic, people living with physical disabilities are experiencing expanded possibilities in what WGSN described in a recent report on Gen Z as 'The Third Platform'. This 'extended reality' holds potential as place for socialising and working, virtually, without the same limitations of inaccessible physical spaces. Creating experiences that take place between the physical and digital worlds could be fertile ground for brands and creatives.

Product Innovation & Open Source Technology

As we heard from Design and Industry Craft Jury President, Superunion’s Greg Quinton in last year’s European Creativity Report: “a recurring theme was work designed to empower people through accessibility, information and open source technology.” Examples like 'ThisAbles' from McCann Tel Aviv exemplified the trend, making IKEA furniture usable for products for people living with disabilities. Open source designs, like those made available to 3D print at home in the IKEA work, could become even more important going forward...liberating those with physical disabilities who may not be able to easily shop instore for new products.

Digital Accessibility & Prioritising AX

With a growing awareness around disabled consumers' digital needs, AX (accessibility experience) will become the new norm. 86% of disabled online consumers have chosen to pay more for a product from an accessible website, as we heard in WGSN's report on 'The Inclusion Opportunity'. Addressing the lack of accessibility in the digital realm will be key and, as they put it, “Engaging and empowering people with disabilities online will become more important than ever, with growing awareness around their digital needs and the commercial benefits of ‘allclusive’ design.”