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In July 2018, UK supermarket chain Morrisons rolled out a ‘Quieter Hour’ across all of its 439 stores nationwide. The aim was to make visits easier on autistic shoppers, who can struggle with the noise associated with retail environments. Introduced on Saturdays from 9am–10am, the stores turn off music, dim lights, avoid using the tannoy and turn down the volume on check-out beeps. Morrisons worked with the National Autistic Society to launch the initiative.

This isn’t the first time a brand has taken action along these lines. UK supermarket ASDA trialed a similar initiative for one day in 2016, and we recently featured the NBA, which relaunched their flagship store in New York City as a sensory-inclusive retail space.

Our recent report on The Future of Retail flagged a trend called PRACTICAL POST-DEMOGRAPHICS, all about rising expectation that retail brands do more to serve diverse and often marginalised groups. In Morrisons’ decision to roll out this move across all stores, then, we see a powerful signal of this trend and a reminder of the relentless acceleration of customer expectations. And of course, this move will in turn only push expectations even higher when it comes to expectations that brands do more to be truly inclusive.

Want to address these expectations yourself? Take these questions to your team:

  • Are we truly giving all customers a voice when it comes to telling us how it feels to engage with our brand?
  • Which group of customers have we traditionally overlooked or marginalised? How could we reimagine what we do around their needs?

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