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    News & Updates

September 24, 2019

Taking a Horse to Water

Last week my 12-year-old daughter started secondary school. It was a new beginning for her, particularly as the school was brand new. My partner and I did all we could to prepare her – new uniform, new shoes and a refresh of the pencil case. We reminded her about the importance of education and a need to take responsibility for herself and her actions. But though we’ve done all we can to give her the tools to succeed, it will ultimately be up to her to get the most out of her education.

As Purple move into the final stages of preparing businesses for Purple Tuesday 2019, I can see some parallels, albeit on a more ‘grown-up’ level. Every business I have spoken to absolutely gets what Purple Tuesday is about and sees the potential value to their organisation. That’s because the narrative is powerful: improve your customer experience for disabled people and their families to access the disability market estimated at £249 billion a year (the Purple Pound).

But we still need to win the hearts and minds of business leaders against a backdrop of tough economic conditions on the high street and across all sectors. Recent figures show we are teetering on the edge of recession, and businesses are rightly cautious about making changes they might perceive as costly now, and having uncertain future gains.

But Purple Tuesday should play a part in the growth strategy of a business. It is not a campaign. It provides businesses with the knowledge and the tools to access a massive, but largely untouched, disability market and gain a competitive advantage over rival businesses. And the central solution is the raison d’etre of business – delivering an excellent customer experience that will drive greater volumes of loyal customers.

This year we have gone further to support businesses who sign up to Purple Tuesday, providing a wide range of resources and templates to help them work through their commitments and engage all stakeholders including staff and senior managers. Last year we created downloads for organisations to decorate their stores and offices with Purple Tuesday merchandise. This year we have added an online store to buy all the merchandise needed to turn businesses purple. And we have given organisations the opportunity for further brand alignment with Purple Tuesday through a range of sponsorship packages.

We’re going to make a huge noise about Purple Tuesday in the media too – we anticipate a level of broadcast and print coverage this year that will provide an unmissable opportunity to promote positive stories and increase the profile of participating businesses.

I am very encouraged to see repeat business. Organisations who got involved last year have signed up for more and have committed to greater stretching actions.

There are also some new entrants into the market – especially as this year Purple Tuesday is open to all sectors and organisations across hospitality, insurance, banking and tourism are getting involved. There are organisations of all shapes and sizes from large corporates to one-person micro enterprises determined to improve the customer experience. And disability has no borders as we are start to see sign-ups from organisation right across the world.

Getting Purple Tuesday right is a revenue earner and customer generative.  Organisations should see it as an opportunity and not simply one more thing to do.

Getting my daughter to see her weekend’s homework as an opportunity might be a slightly harder task!

September 16, 2019

High street businesses losing millions by shunning disabled consumers, new research reveals

New research shows UK businesses – including high street brands – are losing millions of pounds of revenue every year by turning their backs on disabled consumers.

More than 13 million people in the UK – a fifth of the population – are disabled.

A new poll of people who consider themselves to be disabled has found that more than half of respondents are struggling to make purchases of a product/service due to their disability. Disabled young people (aged 16-24) fare the worst – more than three-quarters of them say they have found it difficult to buy goods online or in person due to their disability on more than one occasion.

Some four in five disabled customers say businesses could do more to be accessible and more than half (56%) agreed that improving staff understanding about different disabilities would encourage them to spend their disposable income, estimated to be £249 billion a year. Separate research has shown that 75% of disabled people have had to leave a store or website, unable to go through with their purchase because of their disability.

Respondents state that retail is the most accessible business to purchase from, followed by banking and hospitality/leisure/restaurants. The research comes as businesses and organisations prepare for ‘Purple Tuesday’ on 12 November, a day which celebrates UK companies that are improving the customer experience for disabled shoppers. Major names taking part include Sainsbury’s and Intu.

Mike Adams OBE, Chief Executive of Purple, the disability organisation behind Purple Tuesday, said:

“While many UK businesses and organisations are stepping up to the mark and making the changes needed to improve disabled customers’ experiences, far too many are not.

“This is a huge mistake, not least because by turning their backs on disabled shoppers, they are losing out on millions of pounds of revenue every year.

“It should simply not be the case that one in two disabled people struggle to make purchases online or in person. Small changes can make a big difference to the customer experience; we want to help organisations have the confidence to improve their services for disabled people.”

Disabled consumers told pollsters that inaccessible and unusable locations, poor customer service and a lack of understanding about disabilities were the main reasons they struggled to spend their money.

Over 1 in 5 said that hiring more disabled people would make them more likely to make a purchase and some stated that “wider aisles” or “lighter doors” would have the same effect. The findings support previous research, which shows that less than 10% of organisations have a dedicated strategy for targeting disabled customers4.

The potential of the purple pound is clear – disabled people say they spend on average £163 on retail per month, £98 on travel, £69 on insurance, £78 on hospitality (such as at restaurants or on leisure activities) and £19 on gym or health activities.

Carole Hughes (Pictured), from Liverpool, was born with spina bifida and has been using a wheelchair since 2015. She shops regularly at large supermarkets and department stores around the city. Carole said:

“I often have problems getting around stores and supermarkets, either because the aisles are too narrow or there are items blocking the way. It can be a challenge to find staff who are willing to help – sometimes I’m made to feel like a nuisance when I ask for basic assistance.

“There needs to be more consistency with staff training. Other things like making more doors open automatically and locating accessible parking spaces close to store entrances also make a huge difference to wheelchair users.

“I’d urge all organisations to sign up to Purple Tuesday and make sure they are providing a better shopping experience to their disabled customers.”

Organisations that register for Purple Tuesday will benefit from free resources from Purple on topics such as website accessibility and customer service training. In exchange, Purple asks that business make a minimum of one commitment to improve the customer experience for disabled people.

These commitments might be major transformations or simple, smaller steps that can improve the experience of disabled customers. Examples include conducting an audit of an organisation’s website to ensure it’s accessible or staff training to help them communicate effectively with disabled consumers.

For more information on Purple Tuesday, please visit www.purpletuesday.org.uk.

Last year, which was the first ever Purple Tuesday, more than 750 organisations took part, pledging 1,500 commitments to improve disabled people’s customer experiences. They included some of the biggest brands on the high street, including Argos, Asda, Barclays, Sainsburys.

Industry Letters
Purple are proud to announce that we have multiple co-signed industry letters to help even more organisations get involved with Purple Tuesday to improve the customer experience for disabled people. We would like to encourage you to download the letter most relevant to your sector and distribute this within your network.

Download the Retail letter: co-signed by Mike Adams, Purple CEO and Samantha Sen, Retail Sector Champion Head of Policy and Campaigns, Revo.

Download the Travel letter: co-signed by Mike Adams, Purple CEO and Stephen Brookes MBE
Rail Sector Champion for the Minister for Disabled People

Download the Insurance letter: co-signed by Mike Adams, Purple CEO and Johnny Timpson
Disability Champion for the Insurance Industry and Profession

Download the Disability Confident Retailers letter: co-signed by Mike Adams, Purple CEO and Edward Warner, Spaces & Products Government Sector Champion

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