Why now?

This is new territory in a world that changes almost daily. I can tell you with confidence that the early adopters who choose to create inclusive customer experiences will reap the benefits of attracting and retaining loyal deaf customers. This will, without a doubt, contribute to the success of your business.

There are 12 million deaf people in the UK alone and 1.5 billion people globally who are deaf or have a hearing loss – 20% of the global population.

Sadly, they are massively underserved by most businesses, retailers and organisations.

These are your customers, your potential customers, and even your customers’ friends and family.

Deaf customers are searching for businesses, retailers and organisations who understand their specific needs, and once they have found a supplier who offers that level of service, they are highly likely to remain loyal customers because finding that service elsewhere will be challenging.

Getting this right will reap significant rewards both in terms of:

  • Increased sales

  • Increased loyalty

  • Increased brand awareness and buy-in

However, getting this wrong could have catastrophic consequences for a business. Looking at social media will demonstrate how several well-known brands have been subject to this experience.


The Purple Pound

Philip Connolly, whilst at Disability Rights UK back in 2011, adopted the colour purple and started using it to refer to the spending power of disabled people and their families.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) first started referring to the Purple Pound in 2012, where Maria Miller, the Minister for Disabled People, launched a new guide, Growing your customer base to include disabled people, aimed at encouraging small and medium sized businesses to continue the momentum of the London 2012 Games.

At the time, this spending power was considered to be £80 billion.

Then, on 27 August 2014, Mark Harper, Minister for Disabled People at the time, published a press release stating that the:

“High street could be boosted by £212 billion ‘purple pound’ by attracting disabled people and their families.

Thousands of high street businesses could be turning away the custom of 1 in 5 people by not attracting disabled people.”

The figure of £212 billion was derived from the Family Resources Survey (FRS) and Households Below Average Income (HBAI).

A sharp increase in this number in 2 years, really represented the actual value and importance of businesses making their products and services available to disabled people and their families.

The Minister also wrote to over 200 of the largest UK businesses and 80+ trade organisations to call on them to create more accessible experiences for disabled people and their families.

The last published figure of £274 billion was back in 2020 by Scope, taken from analysis of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Household Below Average Income Survey for 2017 to 2018.

This has been further broken down through research into how this affects particular industries:

  • High Street Shops – £267 million

  • Restaurants/Pubs/Clubs – £163 million

  • Supermarkets – £501 million

  • Energy Companies – £44 million

  • Phone/Internet Providers – £49 million

  • Transport Providers – £42 million

  • Banks or Building Societies – £935 million

So currently as it stands, businesses are leaving money on the table from disabled customers.


Customer loyalty

Whether a customer is deaf or hearing, their experience with a business will undoubtedly impact both their loyalty to the business and the likelihood of recommending the business to others. If they have a good experience with your business then they are also more likely to return and choose your business over a competitor.

Putting all these insights together certainly provides a compelling reason to put time and energy into your deaf customer experience.