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An Untapped $220 Billion Market

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It is estimated that the 54 mln Americans with disabilities have an aggregate income of $1 trln, which represents $220 bln in discretionary spending.

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Companies-and investors-have made fortunes targeting new and emerging markets.

ADR.com, a website focused on international equities, global investing, and, obviously, ADRs, from JP MorganChase (JPM), lists Nokia (NOK) as the top ADR by both volume and value.

But, there's an untapped market closer to home, the potential of which hasn't been close to fully realized.

U.S. Department of Labor statistics put the number of Americans with disabilities to be 54 mln, making them the single largest minority group in the country.

Today's Wall Street Journal discusses efforts by Walgreens (WAG), McDonald's (MCD), and Home Depot (HD) to specifically recruit people with disabilities.

The article quotes Keith Scarbrough, the manager of a Walgreens distribution center in Anderson, South Carolina, who said that workers with disabilities are often at the top of the productivity pyramid. Staff retention rates for employees with disabilities are also 72% higher, saving millions of dollars each year in recruitment and training costs.

Those 54 mln disabled Americans have an aggregate income of about $1 trln, representing $220 bln in discretionary spending.

That figure is more than twice the spending power of American teenagers and almost 18 times the spending power of the American "tweens" market, according to a Department of Justice study.

The market is growing quickly. By the year 2050, there will be more than 80 mln people over the age of 65 in this country. Companies that are well-positioned will benefit greatly from the "graying of America."


Click here to enlarge.

Just look at the numbers:

62.5% of disabled adults own their own home.

71% of adults with disabilities dine out at least once a week.

Malcolm Noden, a retired faculty member from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, wrote in the Fernandina Beach (FL) News Leader that disabled travelers tend to stay longer in hotels; the combination of daily spending multiplied by longer stays results in significantly larger overall revenue per traveler per stay.

And the aging and the disabled account for 57% of all Internet users-which is why Microsoft (MSFT) includes an "accessibility wizard" as part of its Windows operating system, and Apple's (AAPL) Worldwide Disability Solutions Group develops features and technologies specifically designed to provide access to users with disabilities.

"If a website is designed properly, it can give you a lot of information," said Betsy Zaborowski of the United States National Federation of the Blind. "It is the first time in my life that I can access so much information at the click of a mouse."


Dr. Betsy Zaborowski

She's right. Technology, in particular, has given the disabled a far wider range of possibilities than ever before. Some publications, for example, when translated into Braille, seem to lose a little something.

The Library of Congress produces Braille editions of 36 magazines, including Popular Mechanics, Good Housekeeping, and…



Yes. That really is Playboy (PLA)-in Braille.


Say hello to Miss December…

Below is a Braille version of the February, 2004 issue of Playboy, which belonged to Ray Charles and is on display at the Nashville Country Music Hall of Fame.



That Hef's brainchild gets translated into Braille begs an obvious question: could the blind be the only demographic group that actually reads it "for the articles"?
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