Skip to main content Skip to footer

Research & Insight

Why Inclusivity Matters in Retail Design

Reading time: 4 minutes

Inclusivity in retail design is not just a trend; it has become an essential element of successful businesses in the 21st century.

Catering to a Diverse Consumer Market

The global nature of today's consumer market requires brands and stores to cater to a diverse range of customers. By embracing inclusivity, retailers can create positive and memorable experiences for everyone, increasing their customer base and driving loyalty. 

The Business Case for Inclusivity

Inclusivity is conducive to commercial success. As a 2022 report by McKinsey revealed, inclusive retail brands experienced a 23% increase in sales compared to their less inclusive counterparts.

According to Chad Rose, associate professor at the University of Missouri’s College of Education and Human Development and director of the Mizzou Ed Bully Prevention Lab, “Studies have shown exclusion is as painful as getting punched in the face.” – no retailer should want their consumers to feel that!

Resonating with Customers through Inclusivity

In addition, retailers that prioritize diverse needs and preferences are more likely to resonate with their customers and maintain long-lasting relationships. Innovative brands are taking note of this and incorporating inclusivity into their designs and offerings.

The Key Role of Accessibility

Accessibility is a key aspect of inclusivity. By designing stores that are easily navigable by people with mobility impairments, visual and hearing impairments, neurodiversity, or other disabilities, retailers can ensure a comfortable and welcoming environment for everyone. An accessible store design not only complies with legal requirements but also showcases a retailer's commitment to creating a positive experience for all customers – a people-first approach.

Inclusivity isn’t only a reflection of a broader social justice movement; it’s a growing consumer expectation.” Lauren Mathews
Shopify, 2022

Another critical component of inclusivity in retail design is cultural sensitivity. Recognising and respecting the diverse cultures of customers can create a more inviting shopping experience. Being culturally sensitive means more than just offering products from different regions. It also means understanding cultural nuances and designing the store in a way that reflects these values. By taking this approach, retailers can develop a strong connection with their clientele and boost customer loyalty.

“Diversity and inclusion is not just a moral imperative — it’s a business one”

Kay Fabella

Consultant and Forbes contributor (2019)

Extending Inclusivity to Gender, Age, and Body Type

Inclusivity also extends to gender, age, and body type. Many retailers have begun to adopt gender-neutral designs and product offerings, allowing customers to shop without being constrained by traditional gender norms. However, this must be done authentically, as savvy consumers will be able to tell if a brand is engaging in "inclusivity washing" and being inauthentic in their offer.

“Consumers are expecting more from brands than ever before, and the cost is high for retailers that don't take action on racial equity, diversity, and inclusion. ”

McKinsey Tiffany Burns, Diana Ellsworth, Emily Field, and Tyler Harris, 2022

Embracing Inclusivity as a Core Principle

Ultimately, the retail industry must embrace inclusivity as a core principle to thrive in today's competitive market. As the world becomes more interconnected, retailers that prioritise inclusivity will stand out and garner customer loyalty and as a result commercial success.