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Designing for All

Bauer Research Examines Consumer Response to Unintentional Exclusion

Published on October 27, 2021

Photo: Vanessa Patrick

Research from the C. T. Bauer College of Business published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology examines the consumer response to being (unintentional) excluded by the way a product or service is designed.

“Inclusive design considers the needs and capabilities of the whole population to decrease the actual or perceived mismatch between the user and the design object,” writes Associate Dean of Research Vanessa Patrick and a co-author in “Designing for All: Consumer Response to Inclusive Design.”

Patrick, who is also a Professor of Marketing, conducts research that deals with the psychology of everyday aesthetics and design. “Designing for All,” begins with a detailed description of a common failure of inclusive design in industrial settings. Organizations claim gender-neutral hiring policies, but nevertheless often provide “unisex” personal protective gear that is several sizes too big for the typical female frame.

“When employees need to use duct tape to tailor oversized gloves or coveralls that drag on the ground, it not only has the potential to be unsafe, but can also hinder their ability to feel part of a team and therefore perform at their best,” Patrick said.

In the paper, the researchers provide several useful tools to enhance understanding of Inclusive Design: the ADDRESSING typology that allows a marketer to assess who might be unintentionally excluded, the DARE (Design – Appraisal – Response – Evaluation) model to understand how a consumer responds to being excluded and a best-practices 3-Levels framework to design products, services and experiences that cater to the needs of a more diverse consumer base to ultimately benefit everyone who uses the product.

“Inclusive design works best when it's not intended for a specific need, but rather benefits anyone who uses it,” they write.

Patrick recently spoke to academic practitioners in a Marketing Science Institute (MSI) lecture on Inclusive Design. The recording of her talk can be found here.

In addition, she has created a “starter kit,” designed to help professors and educators introduce a discussion of inclusive design in the classroom. The deck introduces the concept, provides examples and suggestions for in-class exercises/class discussions and eight mini case studies that illustrate inclusive design principles and pitfalls to avoid. To download the starter kit, please click here.

Patrick’s work has appeared in numerous prestigious academic journals and leading media outlets. She is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Consumer Research, the Journal of Marketing Research, the Journal of Consumer Psychology, and the Journal of Retailing. Patrick also serves on the editorial review board for Journal of Marketing, is a Fulbright Specialist for 2019-2024 and serves as Lead Faculty for the Bauer Executive Women in Leadership Program.