Disability Orientation and Regulatory Focus in the Assistive Technology Context: A Study of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Consumers
With people with disabilities (PwDs) representing 15% of the United States population, the PwD market demonstrates significant potential as a lucrative target market for businesses. Yet, empirical data is lacking on consumer behaviour among PwDs considering assistive technology products to enhance accessibility. The purpose of this study is to understand the purchase decision process through the lens of a major theory of consumer behaviour, regulatory focus. 171 deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals primarily aged 18-29 were surveyed on two empirically tested scales that measure regulatory focus and disability orientation. This survey included the viewing of a fictional advertisement about an assistive technology product. The findings supported the evidence of a relationship between disability orientation and regulatory focus. A sense of exclusion, social model acceptance, and disability pride were statistically significant predictors of either or both regulatory focus orientations with regard to assistive technology products. Also, whether the subject did/did not have a second disability was partly determinative of prevention focus. Segmentation by disability identity and regulatory focus is suggested. The findings are an important contribution to the established literature on regulatory focus, and fill a major empirical gap in marketing literature for the PwD market. The limitations to this study include the continuing theoretical evolution of disability orientation, and the limitation of the sample to a single disability type (deafness) within a single age group. Similar studies on other disability types could better establish the findings of this study.