Maximizing inclusivity for marginalized groups

Five new insights to design a more inclusive retail or dining experience

October 24, 2023

Every day, your brand’s retail or food & drink establishments may welcome any number of consumers with unique wants, needs, and experience based on their physical or mental ability, gender identity, ethnicity, race, and/or sexual orientation. But does each space welcome these diverse communities as distinctly as your mission statement?

Like many business leaders, you likely see the value in appealing to a diverse consumer base. Perhaps your team continually refines brand messaging and marketing efforts to appeal to a range of audiences. Also likely: your stores, restaurants, or other brand experiences are intentionally designed to be accessible for people with disabilities.

Now, new data reveals an opportunity to extend these inclusive efforts further in the physical environment. Design that shows a deep understanding of a broad range of community needs and preferences is a powerful, often untapped, tool for achieving true inclusivity.

Accessible design ranks number one for everyone

A recent JLL Design Solutions consumer survey began by asking respondents how they identify by race, disability, and LGBTQ+ status. Respondents had the option to submit “Prefer not to say” as a response. From there, they were asked to rate the importance of each of the following dimensions in retail or dining experiences:

  • Immersive – Entertaining and enveloping
  • Accessible – Easily accessible and convenient 
  • Human – High-touch and interactive
  • Meaningful – Driven by a higher purpose / meaning
  • Customized – Personalized to me or my community
  • Intuitive – Clear and efficient

Accessibility emerged as the most important dimension across both retail and food & beverage – and across the total population, including historically marginalized or minority groups. But a closer look at the data paints a richer picture of the potential for companies committed to walking the walk when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Four unique community takeaways, and another that’s universal

Often-marginalized communities have higher expectations of brand experiences than the broader population, according to our survey. So, maximizing inclusivity in design starts by considering their unique wants and needs.

Here’s what the data revealed historically marginalized people think about inclusive design in retail and food & beverage:

People with disabilities prize accessibility and intuitiveness. The ability to easily interact with a property is top priority for people who indicated they have a physical or mental disability.

(For the record, this includes people who reported they are deaf or have serious difficulty hearing; are blind or have serious difficulty seeing; have serious difficult concentrating, remembering, or making decisions because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition; have difficulty walking or climbing stairs, have difficulty dressing or bathing; and/or have difficulties doing errands alone.)

LGBTQ+ community members value immersion. More than other respondents, self-identified LGBTQ+ individuals want to feel enveloped in the brand experience.

Black/African American people want more human experiences. According to the survey, people who identify as Black/African American prefer an experience that is high-touch and interactive.

Hispanic/Latinx community members are all about personalization. Response from Hispanic/Latinx people indicate a high interest in personalization.

Though each segment of the population has its own unique preferences, all share one other top expectation in common: a desire to see and feel a brand’s higher purpose in the experience. In formats across both retail and restaurants, all historically marginalized groups rate “Meaningful” as important at a much higher rate than the total population.

Inclusive design for a better world — and return customers to boot

Designing spaces for people with different experiences and abilities creates spaces that can benefit everyone. Whether you’re ready to reimagine existing locations or looking for new space, consider the distinct values of different members of your base.

By leveraging design to better serve consumers from historically marginalized communities, your business can help lay the groundwork for a more inclusive future, one shopping or dining experience at a time.