Enhancing Marketing Through the Lens of Neurodiversity

Enhancing Marketing Through the Lens of Neurodiversity

Marketing is all about fostering a deep relationship with your customer base. You want to highlight why or how your product connects with them. But to do that, you must first know who they are.

Traditionally, marketing has focused on demographics like age, gender, and location. It rarely takes into account neurodiversity.

This movement recognizes that people’s brains can work in different ways. It can include conditions such as autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and ADHD, among others.

By implementing accessibility, a brand can engage with an otherwise ignored community. But how exactly can you do that? And what can we learn from other brands and campaigns that have tried this out? 

Why neurodiversity should be a marketing priority

Research suggests that over 15% to 20% of the world’s population are neurodiverse, making neurodiversity important for any marketing campaign.

This shows the immense opportunity for brands to reach new and existing customers. That said, meaningful neurodiverse marketing is still relatively rare. 

Why is that? Well, it can be down to several reasons. A common problem is the reluctance to change traditional marketing approaches. It can also directly result from a lack of neurodivergent input in the workforce.

But things are changing. Major brands around the world are leading the way in approaching accessibility. Their changing marketing approaches should be a template for more brands to improve.

Below are three examples of neurodiversity marketing in action:

  1. LEGO’s sensory inclusion

LEGO has long been hailed as one of the most accessible brands worldwide. And they are continuing to lead the way in ensuring neurodiverse fans are catered to.

In 2024, the brand announced long-term initiatives that celebrate neurodivergent fans. Starting with the US and Canada, LEGO stores will be accredited with accessibility certifications.

These certs will come from KultureCity, a non-profit organization. They mean that staff understand the sensory needs of all customers. Resources like sensory bags containing headphones and fidget tools are available in-store.

Additionally, the LEGO group plans to improve LEGO Life Magazine for neurodivergent readers. These include using numbering boxes, prompts for activities, and planning varied content.

  1. Vanish and the “More than just clothes” pledge

As a stain-remover product, Vanish is a staple in the clothing world. They created the “More than Just Clothes” pledge to recognize the importance of clothing to the autistic community.

The campaign offers a variety of articles and videos to raise awareness of how clothing is vital to neurodivergent people. These include regulating emotions, feeling comfortable, helping build routines, or fitting in.

The campaign links with Vanish’s product messaging, helping inform people about the best ways to care for clothing. For every online pledge, Vanish donates £10 to the Amibitous with Autism charity.

  1. Mattel with Thomas & Friends autistic character

Since the 1980s, Thomas the Tank Engine has been a staple in children’s television. And through the years, there have been several new characters to help diversify the cast.

In 2022, the show introduced its first autistic character, Bruno the Brake Car. The character is described as detail-oriented and enjoys schedules and routines. He also has a lantern on his exterior that represents his emotions.

Bruno was developed with the help of neurodiverse organizations and actors. These include both Autistic Self Advocacy Network and Easterseals Southern California. The character is also voiced by autistic actors Chuck Smith and Elliot Garcia in the US and UK shows.

Additionally, the show’s merchandise has become accessible to all. In 2021, a sensory clothing range was released featuring soft fabric, no labels, and looser fittings for easier dressing.

Marketing with a neurodiverse workforce

The examples of LEGO, Vanish, and Mattel illustrate the potential for transformative change. Businesses must become more accessible to improve and introduce successful marketing campaigns. This will encourage neurodiverse people to enter the workforce and share their ideas and experiences.

According to the Harvard Business Review, high unemployment is rampant within the community. An increasing skills shortage offers businesses a “competitive advantage” to hire overlooked people.

Not only can a business stand to hire top talent, but it can also use its unique experiences to elevate its marketing. Ways to encourage more neurodivergence in your company include:

  1. Training and raising awareness

Raising awareness is vital to fostering a positive work culture around neurodiversity. In turn, this can help amplify the voices of neurodivergent employees. Businesses can include staff training programs, workshops, and talks to build employee understanding.

  1. Accommodating diverse needs in the workplace

Management must recognize and accommodate the needs of neurodiverse employees. This can include providing flexible work timetable breaks and sensory resources on-site. If you use specific technology or equipment, ensure it is accessible to everyone.

  1. Introducing inclusive hiring

In order to attract neurodivergent talent, businesses must reconsider traditional hiring practices. This ensures that there is a level playing field when it comes to job interviews and opportunities.

Simple ways to introduce inclusive hiring include:

  • Using plain, direct, and specific language on job adverts.
  • Including an equity, diversity, and inclusion statement.
  • Providing opportunities to showcase ability in practical ways.
  • Using fair assessments when scoring performance.
  • Offering a variety of ways to interview: in-person, written, and through video.
  • Keeping communication open and providing detailed feedback.

At the end of the day

Marketing is about creating a personal connection with someone. And to reach the neurodiverse community, marketers need to think of meaningful ways to convey their messaging.

As more companies recognize the value of inclusivity, we can expect to see campaigns that resonate more deeply with all audiences. It’s clear that when marketing embraces the full spectrum of human diversity, everyone benefits.

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