The ‘purple pound’ is a term used to describe the spending power of disabled people and their families across the retail and leisure industries. It’s worth an estimated £212 billion to the British economy but where did the term even come from? What does it symbolise, and what can your business do to capitalise on it?
Historically, each cause has a colour associated with it; green symbolises environmental movements, pink was adopted by the LGBT community and purple has come to symbolise disability.
According to this 2014 BBC article, the origins of the purple pound are a little bit hazy. It is suggested that the colour of choice, purple, has its roots in the protest movement against benefit cuts. In 2010 the Broken of Britain blog was launched, one of many disabled run protest blogs that cropped up – their chosen colour was purple.
In 2011 Philip Connolly, policy and communications manager at Disability Rights UK, adopted the colour and started to refer to the spending power of disabled people as the purple pound in workshops. The DWP then used the phrase in their 2012 campaign to help SME’s to attract disabled customers. The term has become widely used by the media as well as disabled campaigners since then.
As mentioned, the spending power of disabled people and their families is estimated at £212 billion and where there is money, new industries are born. Businesses have made many improvements over the last few years to make their services or products more accessible for disabled people. But is it all about the money?
We don’t like to think it is; there is also a growing awareness of the struggles of disabled people. The public and business owners are becoming much more aware of the difficulties some people face and want to help. The advent of the internet and social media has given many people a voice who might previously not have been able to voice their struggles to such a wide audience.
So, although the purple pound represents a big business opportunity, we very much believe that accessibility is a moral obligation too.
Businesses can benefit from the purple pound in two ways – the first and most obvious is via profits. it’s simple; attract more customers and your profit will increase. By making your business visibly attractive to disabled people you will win new customers.
It’s also a matter of reputation; businesses that are ‘disability friendly’ tend to have a better reputation, both amongst disabled and able-bodied customers. Reputation is hard to measure tangibly but its something that you need to be conscious of – trying to fix a bad reputation is costlier than efforts to make your business more accessible.
If you think your business isn’t accessible enough, try talking to the people you want to attract. Survey customers on what they think of your current facilities and what you could do to encourage them to use your service or visit your attraction.
One of the major ways you can improve your business is with a Changing Places toilet. Changing Places toilets are used by a diverse group of people including the severely disabled and adding one of these special facilities to your business opens you up to many more customers.
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To learn more about Changing Places, why not download our brochure or attend one of our monthly online seminars.
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