D iv e r sity
In d u stry
for instance, represent about 50
million shoppers with more than
$200 billion in disposable income,
reports the AAPD. The 1. 3 million
LGBT households in the U.S. hold-
more than $690 billion in spend-
ing power, say experts. And the
combined buying power of blacks,
Asian Americans, Native Americans
and Latinos will top $3 trillion in the
next four years, projects the Selig Center
for Economic Growth.
Across the nation, as majority populations become the minority, retailers are stocking shelves with
specialty foods, makeup, hair-care products, music,
DVDs and more to best serve diverse consumers.
But meeting the needs of the “new mainstream” calls
for an approach that combines a culturally relevant
marketing plan, a selection of products that appeal to
different groups and an inclusive work force.
loyalty among today’s
retail consumers requires
diverse store management,
culturally relevant marketing and
a selection of appealing products.
As a job-shadowing coordinator for students
with disabilities, Roselee Archer has witnessed firsthand how diversity can increase
consumer loyalty, especially in retail. The
American Association of People with Disabilities
(AAPD) program Archer is involved in has not only
placed nearly 10 percent of its students with developmental disabilities in retail jobs, but the families and
friends of these newly minted employees have become
faithful customers as well. “People tell me all the time
that they shop at certain stores because they hire [di-verse] people,” explains Archer.
Retailers have long recognized the business case
for inclusion. That’s because people with disabilities,
Mirroring Diverse Markets
For retailers, having a work force and management
team that reflect the local customer base is most
important, say experts. “A retailer can build customer
loyalty if the face of the store looks like the population it serves,” says Randy Sanderson, industry vice
president for consumer products and retail at the St.
Louis–based nonprofit INROADS Inc.
Since retailers have long appealed to females,
women today hold nearly 20 percent of the top corporate jobs at Fortune 500 retailers, leading all other
industries tracked by the research firm Catalyst. At the
store level, women account for more than 50 percent
of the total work force and about 42 percent of store-management positions, according to the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission.
The employment of people of color, however, is
lagging—especially at the store-management level.
INROADS estimates that there are 9. 9 million people
of color working as retail sales clerks and cashiers, but
only 4. 9 million are store managers. To help level the
playing field, the Black Retail Action Group, a New
York–based organization that promotes people of
color in the industry, brings rising college seniors to