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International Lefthander’s Day and Inclusivity…. what we’ve been reading this week at Brand Genetics

We’ve been reading all about inclusivity and embracing the needs of diverse consumers and a few encouraging insights have caught our eye…

 This week, in light of National Lefthander’s Day, Oreo launched a limited-edition pack, designed to be easier for left-handers to open. The campaign highlighted the often ignored daily inconveniences left-handed people face – from using scissors to can openers – and encouraged lefthanders to celebrate the dedicated day and “twist, lick and dunk the left way”.

But it is not only Oreo that is embracing and celebrating diversity – a range of brands are really starting to push the boundaries in this space. Diversity is no longer just about the inclusion of different races, genders and sizes – though this is certainly important – but expanding to more marginalised groups as well. Most encouraging, rather than simply scratching the surface of diversity in messaging and campaigns, brands are taking real action – specifically designing products and experiences with inclusivity in mind.

Quiet please

Earlier this year, both NBA and Morrisons have taken steps to make their shopping experiences more inclusive and accessible to all customers. NBA’s flagship store in New York reopened on World Autism day this year, with the store becoming the world’s first sensory-inclusive retail store. On entering, customers can pick up aids such as noise cancelling headphones or fidget spinners that help them feel more comfortable in the often-hectic retail environment. Ahead of the store opening, staff also received training on the best ways to assist customers with conditions such as autism, PTSD and dementia so they felt confident in helping all customers. In a similar fashion, last month, Morrisons introduced a “quieter hour” from 9– 10 am in all nationwide stores, aiming to provide a more comfortable environment for autistic shoppers who can find shopping a stressful experience. In partnership with the National Autistic Society, Morrisons make a series of modifications during this hour such as turning music off, dimming the lights and turning down the volume on check-out beeps.  Both these initiatives show brands embracing diversity with a long-term view, through making changes that are permanent and focused on catering to all types of customer needs.

Fashion forward

Fashion brands are also stepping up their game in terms of truly championing diversity and inclusivity. Previously praised for inclusivity by showing models of different sizes wearing the same items of clothing, online fashion retailer ASOS recently collaborated with para-athlete Chloe Ball-Hopkins to launch a waterproof jumpsuit, specifically designed for wheelchair users. The jumpsuit has adjustable cuffs to alter sleeve length, a slightly longer hem line at the back and a zip around the waist to make it easier to remove.

ASOS collaboration with Chloe Ball-Hopkins

American designer Tommy Hilfiger’s spring 2018 collection similarly included a line of adaptive clothing designed to make fashion more accessible for those with disabilities or special needs. Even more mainstream, retailing giant Target now stocks an adaptive clothing range with clothes including features such as magnetic buttons and adjustable hems to make getting dressed in the morning an easier task. The introduction of adaptive clothing ranges from such a range of fashion brands represents a heightened consideration of customer needs.

Simplicity for seniors

 The elderly population are generally not the top of mind consumer target for most brands, but especially not when you think of e-commerce and app development. However, earlier this year, online retailer Taobao (owned by Alibaba) launched an “elderly friendly” version of its app in China. Specifically designed to make the platform more accessible to older consumers, the alternative app has a larger and more simplified interface and a feature that allows users to connect with family members via the app. The development shows a focus on expanding your reach by building inclusivity into your brand, and rethinking the composition of your ‘target consumer’.

 The Human Experience (HX) learnings?

Brands are taking a much more human approach to evolving their offerings and customer experiences. As customer expectations continue to increase, brands need to demonstrate that they are truly inclusive and push to really understand and embrace the diverse range of customer needs and wants that exist. At Brand Genetics, we believe the future is human and that we must understand people – all people – as humans, and this means seeking to understand and celebrate diversity.

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