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Frontiers in Multicultural Marketing: The Disabilities Market - page 10 / 17





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There are many problems in measuring the incidence of mental retardation in the United States.  A reasonable estimate is that 1% of the people who are not institutionalized are mentally retarded (Kraus, Stoddard, and Gilmartin, 1996).  This would translate to about 3 million people.  Worldwide, the percentage is between 1% and 3%; it is more prevalent in developing countries because of public health problems such as oxygen deprivation at birth (World Health Organization, 2001).  

A cell phone that only has a few buttons to be used only to reach relatives and 911 would be very helpful for the mentally disabled.   One company has a phone that contains a GPS receiver so that its position can be determined (Wildstrom, 2005).

An astounding 28.1% of Americans (this includes those in institutions) had a mental disorder other than retardation in any typical year.  However, only 1.8% of Americans have what is considered a serious mental illness (Kraus, Stoddard, and Gilmartin, 1996).  These mental disorders include the following:  Anxiety disorders (12.6%), substance abuse disorders (9.5%), affective disorders (9.5%), cognitive impairment (2.7%), antisocial personality disorder (1.5%), schizophrenic disorders (1.1%), and somatization disorders (0.2%).  The World Health Organization (2001) provides charts indicating the prevalence of many diseases, including psychological ones, by gender and for the world, Africa, and the Americas.

Depression is sometimes referred to as the “common cold of mental illness.”  According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2006), about 19 million adult Americans (approximately 10%) suffer from depression each year; this includes those suffering from bipolar (manic-depressive) and dysthymic disorders. Nearly two-thirds do not go for help.  Yet, 80% can benefit from having the illness treated.  Worldwide, about 5.8% of men and 9.5% of women will suffer from depression in a typical year.  This translates to 121 million people with the depression (World Health Organization, 2001).

Most of the products targeted to those suffering from depression are drugs and herbal cures.  However, there may be other possibilities.  Studies show that people who go on frequent vacations are less likely to become depressed or stressed out (Chikani et al., 2005).  How about vacations targeted to those prone to depression?  What about cruises for those who feel stressed out that also serve foods that are thought to be beneficial to mental health (e.g., fatty fish) — a spa for the mind.  

Marketing to Individuals with Dyslexia

Dyslexia is the most common of learning disabilities with approximately 5 to 17% prevalence among school age children (Shaywitz and Shaywitz, 2001).  It is sometimes referred to as the “hidden disability.”  Those with dyslexia typically have difficulty with reading, writing, and spelling.  Schools generally provide special education classes for students with dyslexia.  Dyslexia can be a serious problem in the workplace as well (Bartlett and Moody, 2000).  For example, following written instructions from a supervisor can be quite difficult for an employee with dyslexia.  There are a number of products that can make life easier for a

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