This month we caught up with Ann Drieberg. She told us about the recent unveiling of Untapped Customer, Australia’s first market recruitment organisation specialising in finding people with a disability for paid market research.
Firstly, tell us a bit about Untapped Customer?
Untapped Customer is a start-up social impact business. We are on a mission to increase the number of disabled people included in market and social research because their voices are currently not represented in product and service design and delivery. Overlooking the perspective of disabled people is bad for business, so we want to make it easy for companies to find people with disability to ask their opinion. In essence, Untapped Customer is a database of people with disability and carers of disabled people who want to contribute to paid market and social research.
Where did the idea of Untapped Customer come from?
The name “Untapped Customer” came before I could define what “it” was. It just found me and wouldn’t let me put it down. I was experiencing challenges in finding people with disability to participate in surveys and be paid for them. And I started to wonder if companies also found it hard to find people with disability to help them understand their disabled market. I wanted to make it easy for businesses to connect with them, so their insights and opinions could be included in product and service design.
Tell our readers what Untapped Customer means for autistic individuals and their families.
For autistic individuals and their families, Untapped Customer provides a way to be paid for their opinion and influence the products and services they use.
Let’s get to know you, Ann. Tell us about your experience in the disability and mental health sector?
I fell into the disability/mental health sectors after graduating as a mature-aged student of psychology. That first role out of uni catapulted me into the world of disability and the disabling effects of how society is built. It was my first exposure, and I was genuinely curious about why disabled people mostly lived on the edges of society. Back then, it was challenging to get people with disability to the table, so presenting their views and insight was often the best I could do. I was part of many conversations about people that never included their input directly. Fast forward 30 years of doing every role from personal care to executive management and consulting, I’m still finding that we default to speaking on behalf of. Sometimes that’s because we don’t know anyone with a disability to ask, or we don’t know where to find them, but mostly I hear it’s too complicated, and then that’s the end of the conversation. I’m just really passionate about every person having the opportunity to be valued and contribute to society.
What companies do you think will take up Untapped Customer, and what research will they be seeking?
Ideally, every company needs to hear from people with disability, but initially, I think there will be 3 groups of companies that will take up Untapped Customer’s offerings:
1. Forward-thinking disability service providers who want to understand what participants of the future are looking for from their services
2. Companies with disability, access and inclusion plans who value input from disabled people in the design, development and review of their products and services.
3. Market researchers who want to diversify their pool of community members who regularly contribute to surveys and market research.
What do families and people with a disability need to do to register as an Untapped Customer, and what can they expect?
People with disability and families can register here or join and like Facebook or LinkedIn. If you need support to complete the form, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text 0490400 507.
What are your aspirations for Untapped Customer in the future?
I’m working towards the day when we can reinvest 50% of our profits into raising the profile of disabled people as savvy customers and breaking down some misconceptions about what disabled people purchase and use. I’d love to see more representation of people with disability in retail and advertising. And, I think it’s high time organisations understand that people with disability and their carers have spending power and businesses that listen to them and deliver on what they want and need, will have loyal and happy customers. It’s a win-win.