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Empathy and effort wins hearts, minds and loyalty

Sheryl Roche

Senior Account Executive 

Ogilvy & Mather 


Twenty-five million consumers in India are differently-abled, according to the 2011 census. Yet, regrettably, most brands do not see these people as

a viable consumer segment. Mainstream brands show little interest in creating specialized products or making existing products more accessible or inclusive. At best, brands view the differently-abled sympathetically and loosen their purse strings for charity and CSR.

Brands could profitably serve differently-abled consumers. But they need to understand their needs and desires, develop relevant products and discover the best touch points. Members of this community would no doubt reward brands that accepted them as part of the mainstream culture and communicated in ways that fostered empowerment not dependency.

Some brands are leading the change. Taco Bell provides menus in braille. Viviana Mall in Mumbai is equipped with audio-tactile labels. Inox Cinemas have wheel chair ramps and Macbook’s VoiceOver feature makes the computer universally accessible. An empathetic view and a little effort can go a long way in winning the hearts and minds
– and purchasing power – of differently-abled people.