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We can all be excluded

Design generally caters for the mainstream user. They are typically young, able-bodied, right-handed, male, technically literate, have money and belong to the majority race and culture. But who do you know who fits this description? Is it all the people you know, some of them, or only a few? This ideal consumer is actually a minority, and is not representative of the wider population. Most people are typically excluded in one or more ways. 

lead users who can give you valuable insights
Source: Professor Jeremy Myerson, RCA Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design

The bull's eye diagram represents the total potential market that you could appeal to, and includes a variety of people across it. Most companies only focus on a target customer, who is typically younger, average and mainstream. This means your market will only fill the first few rings on the bull's eye excluding everyone who is outside of this focus. Looking at people who are usually excluded can only broaden your focus and increase the market potential for a design. These people are represented here by the figures in the outer rings of the bulls-eye or outside of it. 

All of us fall outside of the mainstream at some point in our lives, and as a result can find the designed world around us difficult. There are many forms of exclusion. A few examples are listed below.


Older people are routinely ignored as consumers or as active members of the economy yet they are a majority market. We are all ageing and living longer. Other age groups can also be excluded when categorising consumers. A target group of 18-35-year-olds excludes most of society.


Disability is not limited to wheelchair users, and many conditions such as diabetes can be less obvious. We all have some disability, whether minor or major, permanent or temporary. This can be sensory, physical or cognitive. Even a minor condition such as an allergy can be disabling.


Women are underserved as consumers, yet are key decisionmakers for most household purchases. Many products and services do not include women's needs, representing missed opportunities across the globe. The recognition of differences in sexual orientation and ender identity has also evolved on a global scale.


Immigration and migration have increased the ethnic and cultural flow into most major cities. However, lack of integration and ghettoisation prevents some communities from being included in mainstream society. The result is evident in education, employment, politics and economics.


Many people across the world struggle at the minimum level of subsistence. In developed countries this translates into a lack of healthcare, housing or education. In developing countries, this can mean living on less than $1 a day. The same design often has to work in both settings.


Even within a country or city, different areas can have varying standards of healthcare, life expectancy, services and utilities. At a global level, populations in some countries can be further excluded. Geography can dictate access to energy, clean water, staple food and natural resources.