People with disabilities (PwDs) represent 15% of the United States population, yet they are under-researched in the marketing literature. With $4 trillion in disposable income among PwDs and their families and friends, the PwD market demonstrates potential as a target market for businesses. Yet, empirical data is lacking on the evaluation and purchase process among PwDs considering assistive technology products. The purpose of this study is to understand this evaluation and purchase process, using regulatory focus and disability orientation theories.
With deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals aged 18-29 as initial PwD subjects to measure the assistive technology evaluation and purchase process, an online quantitative survey was conducted using two empirically tested scales that measure regulatory focus and disability orientation. This survey included the viewing of a fictional advertisement about an assistive technology product. The advertisement was intended to activate chronic regulatory focus prior to taking the regulatory focus portion of the survey.Findings
The findings supported the evidence of a relationship between disability orientation and regulatory focus. A sense of exclusion, disability pride, and social model acceptance were statistically significant predictors of either regulatory focus, promotion or prevention, with regard to assistive technology products. Also, whether the subject did/did not have a second disability was partly determinative of prevention focus.Research limitations/implications
The findings are an important contribution to the established literature on regulatory focus, and fills a major empirical gap in marketing literature for the PwD market. The limitations to this study include the continuing evolution of disability orientation as a valid theory, the limitation of the study sample to a single disability type (deafness) in a single age group, and disagreement in the academic literature on accepted methods for measuring regulatory focus orientation.Practical and social implications
The findings provide marketers and other stakeholders with a tool to better understand self-regulatory approaches of PwDs toward assistive technology products. More effective design and marketing strategies would ultimately lead to assistive technology products that better satisfy PwDs, which would be an important contribution to society.Originality/value
This is the first study linking the PwD market to regulatory focus theory, thus providing a new way to profile the PwD market beyond type of disability. It also adds to the limited empirical literature on marketing to PwDs. Similar studies on other disability types could better establish the findings of this study.Keywords
Regulatory focus, disability orientation, consumer behavior, assistive technology, self-construal