Group Market Research Project
Stakeholder/Customer Group: Families of children who need a wheelchair
Beeline Wheelchairs, as a member of the assistive devices manufacturing industry, aims to provide wheelchairs to meet the needs of families in Guatemala. The core objective of this industry is to improve the quality of life for disabled individuals by offering accessible mobility solutions meanwhile focusing on sustainability and a social mission.
Due to physical disabilities and limited financial means, many families in Guatemala face significant challenges. Providing wheelchairs and other essential items for disabled family members can often be financially burdensome for these households. In such a scenario, if Beeline Wheelchairs could offer affordable or subsidized wheelchairs and provide additional relevant assistance to families in need, it would make a significant impact on families with disabled children.
In Guatemala, about 31% of all households including at least one person with a disability. (Hashemi et al., 2023) Considering the low educational levels and limited understanding of wheelchair usage within this demographic, effective marketing strategies are crucial in explaining the value of these products and services. Given their limited knowledge levels and financial resources, merely making them aware of the existence of wheelchairs is not enough. Marketing campaigns must emphasize the benefits that wheelchairs can bring to disabled individuals, highlighting how mobility and accessibility can improve their overall well-being and participation in daily life.
Many families may initially not grasp the importance of wheelchairs due to a lack of knowledge and awareness (Replogle 2005). Effective marketing may bridge this knowledge gap by educating them about the advantages of wheelchairs in enhancing the quality of life and mobility of disabled family members. By gaining a deeper understanding of the cultural and socioeconomic environment of families with disabled children, marketing strategies can overcome misconceptions and provide solutions that align with stakeholders’ needs. Sensitivity to their financial situation is crucial, and solutions prioritizing accessibility and affordability may include subsidy programs or low-cost options (Replogle 2005).
The underdevelopment and poverty prevalent in Guatemala made it challenging for their disabled population to receive attention. It is difficult to find news of them being mentioned in society due to their specific conditions, challenges, and educational levels, and therefore few companies are willing to target them as customers. In the Guatemalan region, there is scarce information available regarding related wheelchairs. It is an area that has not seen much development, and while we can observe the need for wheelchairs among the population, there are still numerous challenges and difficulties to address.
Families in Guatemala with children who need wheelchairs have various needs, such as sturdy, easy-to-operate, customizable wheelchairs, and affordable maintenance. Due to the rugged terrain in Guatemala and a lack of funding to fix uneven roads, apart from the central towns, there is a shortage of accessible facilities (Kircher, 2016). Families are particularly concerned with the design features of children’s wheelchairs to ensure the safety and comfort of their children in challenging terrains and road conditions. They require wheelchairs capable of navigating through rough terrains, addressing challenges like when the wheelchair gets stuck. Additionally, there’s a need for accessible sidewalks, restaurants, and shops (Kircher, 2016). Moreover, they need adequate information to maintain the wheelchairs and ensure their durability. This information includes getting in and out of the wheelchair, navigating obstacles like rugged terrains, curbs, and ramps, propulsion techniques, and providing maintenance for the wheelchair (Morgan et al., 2015).
They also require access to appropriate pediatric wheelchairs and information about using these wheelchairs (Replogle, 2005). Families need training and knowledge on how to use and maintain wheelchairs simply to ensure that both the wheelchair users and caregivers can use them effectively without encountering challenges or accidents. This is especially important due to adverse physical environmental conditions such as poor road conditions and uneven terrains. Therefore, caregivers must be prepared to handle such situations and ensure the wheelchairs remain in good functional condition.
Families in Guatemala with children using wheelchairs require suitable and fitting pediatric wheelchairs (Rousseau-Harrison & Rochette, 2013). Since children grow, a wheelchair that suits them at the age of 5 may not be as suitable when they are 7 years old. Having a wheelchair that can accommodate these growth changes could save expenses for Guatemalan families. Different children have varying requirements for wheelchairs; some children have longer legs, while others need wider wheelchairs. From Beeline’s perspective, it’s essential that wheelchair manufacturing caters to the specific needs of children.
In comparison to families without disabled family members, families with disabled members are more likely to belong to lower socioeconomic strata, have larger family sizes, a higher caregiving ratio, and a lower percentage of family members engaged in work ((Hashemi et al, 2023). These economic challenges significantly impact their ability to access medical services and purchase mobility aids. They seek solutions with affordable maintenance costs and reduced transportation expenses to and from Beeline clinics or other wheelchair repair facilities. Many caregivers express gratitude for donated wheelchairs because economic constraints prevent them from purchasing new ones (Glumac et al., 2009). These families require funding or economic assistance to meet the basic needs of individuals with disabilities, including buying wheelchairs and covering physical therapy and medication expenses.
These family preferences revolve around the need for durable and sturdy wheelchairs, as well as a focus on training and community education to improve the quality of life and social integration of their children.
Parents select children’s wheelchairs that suit their children’s needs. These chairs should be robust enough to navigate the challenging terrain and infrastructure in Guatemala, such as uneven roads and a lack of ramps (Glumac et al., 2009). These wheelchairs should provide mobility and postural support to ensure the comfort and safety of the child. Families also prefer chairs that are easy to maintain and repair, reducing expenses and avoiding additional wheelchair-related costs.
Disabled children and their families often feel isolated and unaccepted due to various challenges. This stems not only from physical difficulties but also from social and cultural factors. Shame and discrimination often burden their lives, undermining their self-esteem and confidence. This also affects the overall well-being of families. In Guatemala, families with children using wheelchairs strongly desire that their children can fully integrate into the community, breaking free from the shadow of shame and discrimination (Glumac et al., 2009). Because disabled individuals are typically marginalized in society, they face greater barriers to social inclusion ((Hashemi et al., 2023). If more people can understand this challenge and lend a helping hand, there is a chance to establish more inclusive and supportive communities.
Challenges for Families
Even with the presence of wheelchairs, we cannot overlook the difficulties that exist in the Guatemala region.
- Accessibility Issues: In Guatemala, especially in rural areas, accessibility remains a pressing concern. Limited accessibility to healthcare facilities and public spaces poses significant challenges for children with mobility limitations and their families. This makes it difficult for them to access necessary medical services and public facilities, impacting their daily lives.
- Financial Pressure: In Guatemala, 59.3% of the population lives below the poverty line, indicating the need to secure even necessities. Economic constraints further exacerbate these difficulties, primarily due to the high cost of wheelchairs and associated expenses. Many families cannot afford these costs, necessitating financial support to obtain appropriate wheelchairs and medical care. (Glumac 2009)
- Healthcare Disparities: Healthcare disparities worsen the situation, affecting the availability of early diagnosis and comprehensive treatment options. This results in children being unable to access the medical care they require, further deteriorating their conditions.
- Transportation Challenges: Despite clinics being free, transportation costs, inconveniences, and the loss of work hours represent a significant burden for most impoverished parents.
- Inadequate School Accessibility: Globally, 98% of disabled children do not receive formal education. In Guatemala, the number of students in inclusive schools is limited, making it even rarer for disabled children to have opportunities for learning. Inadequate accessibility in schools presents additional challenges, making it harder for children to access education and achieve social integration. This prevents them from fully participating in educational and social activities.
- Psychosocial Impact: Stigma and discrimination have significant psychosocial impacts on children and their families, placing significant stress on their psychological and emotional well-being. Families not only witness their children’s exclusion but also contend with societal barriers, adding an extra burden to already challenging circumstances.
Based on our research of the Guatemalan population, we have considered the series of steps and decisions that families with children in need of wheelchairs go through when using products or services.
First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge that there is a significant lack of understanding and reluctance among the Guatemalan population regarding wheelchairs. Many families do not comprehend how to operate wheelchairs and may be hesitant to allow their children to use these seemingly rigid devices. Beeline needs to sensibly and patiently promote the functionality of wheelchairs and the benefits they offer to children. Building a sense of trust among parents or caregivers is crucial, assuring them that these devices are practical and effective. For instance, Beeline can introduce their wheelchairs as providing robust support, durability, and adaptability to the local environment. Given the uneven and rugged terrain in Guatemala, families undoubtedly wish for wheelchairs to offer sufficient support, ensuring the comfort and safety of the users. Durability is also a critical factor, as they hope wheelchairs can withstand various terrains and environmental conditions. Additionally, wheelchairs should be adapted to the local environment to ensure smooth usage on local roads and under local conditions.
When customers receive or consider obtaining wheelchairs for their children, Beeline must take into account that buyers typically compare different options, including the features and quality of products or services, to find the best fit for their needs. To ensure stakeholders choose Beeline’s wheelchairs over other options in the market, Beeline needs to clearly present its advantages. Beeline Wheelchairs has several distinct advantages that can be effectively highlighted to stakeholders, ensuring they opt for Beeline’s wheelchairs over other choices in the market. These advantages include customization, affordability, comfort, and ease of installation.
After the purchase, Beeline can proceed to gather feedback on the purchasing experience and the quality of the product or service from these families. Beeline should place a significant emphasis on these insights as they can influence future buying decisions. Purchasers’ feedback provides invaluable information to help Beeline identify potential issues or areas for improvement in their wheelchairs. They can understand which aspects need enhancement to improve the performance, comfort, and safety of the wheelchairs. This can assist Beeline in continuously improving its products to meet customers’ needs. Furthermore, positive feedback and suggestions from customers can become a significant source of Beeline’s reputation and credibility. This can attract more customers and reinforce Beeline’s image as a trusted brand.
Families in Guatemala in need of wheelchairs may encounter various external factors that can influence their daily lives. These factors encompass technological advancements, socio-cultural developments, and economic impacts. Understanding the intricate dynamics of these external influences is crucial for shaping future sales strategies, behaviors of stakeholders, and accessing critical resources.
Technological advancements are closely linked to improving the accessibility of wheelchairs for individuals with disabilities. In a country like Guatemala, where 1 in 10 people has a disability, leveraging technology can be transformative (UN Sustainable Development Group, 2021). With increased internet penetration rates, people with disabilities and their families can access vital information about various mobility aids and assistive technologies, making informed decisions about wheelchair options. In Guatemala, 65.0 percent of people had access to the internet as of the beginning of 2022 (Kemp, 2022). Nevertheless, the unmet need for technology access for 35% of the population highlights the importance of expanding infrastructure to reach underserved areas. By bridging the digital divide and ensuring affordable access to the internet, families and stakeholders involved in disability support can connect more effectively to resources, information, and innovative solutions to enhance wheelchair accessibility.
Despite having a reliable power supply and one of the highest electricity connections in Central America, where electricity access for 2021 was 97.87%, a 1.22% increase from 2020. Reliable electricity availability is equally crucial, especially in rural areas, as it powers mobility aids, allowing individuals with disabilities to gain more independence. Expanding electricity access to rural areas and promoting renewable energy can significantly improve wheelchair accessibility by establishing more wheelchair design companies and ensure the powering of more effective electric-powered wheelchairs, ensuring mobility and a more inclusive society. By enhancing wheelchair design, mobility aids, and assistive technologies, accessibility, mobility, and independence for individuals with disabilities can be improved (Andrews et al., 2023).
Socio-cultural attitudes and beliefs play a significant role in the journey of individuals with disabilities in accessing wheelchairs. A society that fosters tolerance and inclusivity empowers these individuals to participate actively in education, employment, and social interactions. The 1 in 10 Guatemalans with disabilities and their families benefit from a more accepting environment, which reduces the stigma around their condition and facilitates access to the resources they need (UN Sustainable Development Group, 2021). Collaborating with local disability advocacy organizations, healthcare providers, and government agencies can help address the current stance on disability in Guatemala. These stakeholders may foster an environment that makes it easier for individuals with disabilities to obtain wheelchairs and other crucial services by challenging stereotypes and encouraging inclusivity.
Initiatives that promote disability education and awareness can further empower these individuals by encouraging greater independence and self-determination. Increased societal tolerance would enable individuals with disabilities and their families to better access resources, establish closer connections with others, and maintain better mental health. Conversely, if societal prejudices and stigmas persist, these families will face greater challenges, potentially affecting their access to resources and their ability to interact with others, thereby complicating the issues (Grech, 2019).
The availability of assistance aids like wheelchairs and Guatemala’s economic situation are related. The economy directly impacts the financial well-being of individuals and families, which has a GDP of USD 92.7 billion (World Bank, 2022). Families that require wheelchairs are severely impacted due to the nation’s issues with poverty, inequality, and inadequate access to essential services for roughly half of its population. These families may be able to purchase the necessary assistive devices with the help of stable economic growth. On the other hand, during economic downturns, they might be unable to afford appropriate wheelchairs or medical treatment. Addressing these concerns requires cooperation with both nonprofit and governmental entities. These collaborations could focus on reducing poverty, improving chances for employment, and improving access to healthcare. Individuals with disabilities can have more fulfilling lives by improving the financial situation of their families, which makes it more practical to make wheelchairs and other necessary resources accessible.
We have gained an in-depth understanding of the challenges faced by families in Guatemala with children in need of wheelchairs. These families experience various pressures, including cognitive impairments, economic difficulties, and unmet special needs. To ensure these families better accept wheelchairs from Beeline, Beeline needs to consider the range of services or requirements that come with having wheelchairs.
It’s evident that these families have strong expectations regarding education and social inclusivity. They aspire to access inclusive and barrier-free school education to eliminate physical and attitudinal barriers and provide a fair learning environment. They also hope that wheelchairs can offer other family members the opportunity to be relieved from caregiving responsibilities and return to work, contributing to the family’s finances. These crucial findings reflect the multifaceted challenges and needs of families with disabled children in Guatemala, encompassing economic, educational, social integration, and healthcare requirements. Meeting these needs is crucial for improving family satisfaction and enhancing the overall quality of life for disabled children.
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