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Special Needs Marketing Pays Big Dividends in Loyalty

If your next marketing piece could attract 53 million people in the United States who collectively enjoy 200 million dollars in buying power, wouldn’t you race to do it? Surprisingly, not very many companies have. I’m talking about the special needs community, an active and vibrant community who does and buys the same things the rest of us do each day.

The special needs market is the largest minority market today, but very few brands have been forward-thinking enough to be associated with it. It’s relatively easily to do. In fact, it’s better to be inclusive of the special needs community without saying anything about it. Retail giant Target found this out recently when they included an adorable little boy with Down Syndrome in one of their sale ads. Target didn’t say anything about him, didn’t put him in a “special” catalog. Instead, they just put him next to other adorable kids. Just one of many children you might see walking down the street on any given day. A normal, accepted – and included – child.

Since 400,000 people have Down Syndrome in the United States, it was a smart move, and one that parents of kids with Down Syndrome noticed. Dallas blogger Rick Smith, whose son Noah has Down Syndrome, wrote about the Target ad. The post, entitled “Target is Down with Down Syndrome: 5 Things Target Said By Saying Nothing At All,” soon went viral. What does this mean for Target? Just the holy grail of marketers: increased brand loyalty.

You don’t have to create entire campaigns that evolve around the special needs community. Rather, they just have to be inclusive of the special needs community. You should also remember that special needs don’t discriminate, they include all races and ethnicities, and it’s important to reflect that in your marketing pieces. Finally, your companies need to demonstrate that they are truly inclusive by not just including special needs people in their advertising, but also welcoming special needs people inside their organizations as employees.


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