Contexts are changing
Design has to respond to changes that are taking place in the world around us. The diagram below outlines some examples of these, looking at selected issues from a global to an individual perspective.
HOW CHANGING CONTEXTS AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS
The chart on the previous pages illustrates how social contexts are changing and highlights relevant factors and trends. The themes outlined here detail some of the important market challenges that Inclusive Design can help to address. The opportunities are significant.
THEME 1. EMBRACING DIVERSITY
Factors: emerging markets, ignored markets and diverse populations
Effect: wider appeal for products and services.
Design and businesses will have to be sensitive to more diverse markets if they are to maintain or expand their appeal. Emerging markets are beginning to become powerful consumer bases in their own right.
The growth in immigrant populations in Europe implies that businesses need to be aware of cultural diversity when designing new products, services or environments. Diversity should also include gender equality and differences in ability and age. Inclusive Design can help you to understand and embrace diversity and find ways to appeal to a wider market. Embracing Diversity can be seen as an innovation strategy.
THEME 2. CONSUMERS ARE NOT STEREOTYPES
Factors: global stereotyping, multi-layered personas, complexity of individuals
Effect: market segmentation, individual appeal, challenging preconceptions
People no longer fall into traditionally defined market categories. New typologies are constantly being created and people can often display multiple and changeable characteristics depending on context. People can no longer be defined by factors such as gender, age, disability or cultural background – lifestyle, value, attitudes and personal ethics all play a role.
Market segmentation has to use qualitative as well as quantitative measures to address human complexity. Designing for people must take a more sophisticated approach and not just cater for mainstream stereotypes.
Inclusive Design can help to overcome preconceptions and assumptions about target groups and expand our understanding of the consumer psyche.
THEME 3. LIFESTYLES ARE CHANGING
Factors: technology, medicine, urbanisation, social structure, consumer lifestyle
Effect: new contexts of use, new markets offer new opportunities
Technology is a main driver in changing the way people live, work and communicate, and this has influenced the structure and behaviour of individuals in society. Improved medicine is leading to longer, healthier lives, with a greater burden on social models of healthcare. Rapid urbanisation is creating large cities that struggle under congestion with an increasing demand for services and supplies.
Family structures are changing with people spread over greater distances and up to four generations still alive in one family. Single living is on the rise as the numbers of newly-divorced or widowed people increase. Businesses will need to understand the changing lifestyles of their customers and the different contexts in which they are now operating.
THEME 4. VALUE STRUCTURES ARE CHANGING
Factors: changing values and aspirations
Effect: mapping trends, strengthening brand value
What people desire and value is changing. Key value drivers for design currently include simplicity, efficiency, user-friendliness, sustainability and ethically sound design. Inclusive Design allows you to map these changes and keep up to date with people's aspirations and expectations.
Improved awareness will help you design desirable products and improve brand image perception. It can also allow companies to ‘future-map’ activities and respond to societal trends as they happen. People not only see value as a financial metric, but also place emphasis on less tangible areas that are more emotive and personal.