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Beauty Is Designing Packaging for the Visually Impaired

September 9, 2019
Source: Vogue Business

Packaging that’s designed for the 1.3 billion people who are visually impaired isn’t particularly expensive and can find broader appeal.

Key takeaways:

  • Only a handful of beauty brands have invested in packaging that’s accessible for the visually impaired.
  • Braille packaging can be technically challenging and costly implement. But there are alternatives, including square-shaped packaging and tactile symbols.
  • Intuitive designs like click-and-close caps and magnetic closures are also proving popular, both aiding the visually impaired and finding favour among a wider customer base.

One of Too Faced’s best-selling products is its Chocolate Bar Eyeshadow Palette, a cosmetics kit that comes with a distinctive smell thanks to an infusion of cocoa powder. It’s also highly popular with visually impaired beauty customers who use their sense of smell to identify products.

Even as beauty brands invest in creating sustainable products, packaging that’s accessible for the visually challenged is rare. Only a handful of brands — Dr. Jart, Whamisa and Bioderma — directly address blind consumers with tools such as braille on their outer packaging. (Some companies have been accused of treating visual accessibility as a fashion statement, with one UK soap label criticised for using braille packaging that wasn’t actually tactile.)

Yet, there is a significant market to tap: about 1.3 billion people live with some level of vision impairment, 36 million of whom are blind. A video of blind beauty YouTuber Molly Burke doing up makeup artist and fellow YouTuber James Charles, in which she describes her life as a beauty lover who can’t see what she puts on, resulted in more than 12 million views.

The cost of accessibility

One brand that has been successfully incorporating braille into its packaging is French beauty company L’Occitane. In the 1990s, founder Olivier Baussan noticed a blind customer in a store feeling the bottles in an attempt to get familiar with the product. He started putting braille on the company’s packaging in 1997.

About 70 per cent of L’Occitane products now come with braille labelling, but technical constraints limit full deployment. The brand has found it particularly challenging to include such lettering on smaller products like soaps and tubes. Research and implementation led to an additive cost of about 25 per cent, “but we’re willing to pay this because this is so meaningful”, says a spokesperson for the L’Occitane Foundation.

But not all visually challenged people read braille, which can take years to learn, says inclusive designer Sam Latif, who overhauled P&G’s Herbal Essences Bio:Renew line. Blind herself, Latif simply included raised stripes on shampoo bottles and dots on conditioners. A simple code like this is better than using braille since shapes are accessible to more people, she says. “This can and will become the standard for the beauty industry.”

Such tactile symbols suggest that inclusivity in beauty doesn’t need to be highly unusual or expensive. There are other simple hacks, including using square-shaped packaging, since round packages tend to roll away if dropped and are thus hard for the visually impaired to find. Latif also suggests rethinking how instructions are written. “Imagine a pack with tightly squeezed 100 words with small font, and another with larger and fewer words grouped in sections,” she says. “Both will cost the same to produce, but one will be easier to read than the other both from a vision and cognition perspective.”

Beauty can also draw from investment made by other industries. The food-tech startup Mimica, for instance, creates labels that degrade and go bumpy once the ingredients pass their expiry date. This label lets customers know when to throw away products and is something that visually able customers can also use.

There are signs, too, that adjustments for visually challenged customers find a broader welcome. Intuitive designs like click-and-close caps and magnetic closures are trending among package makers, according to Mordor Intelligence, since many customers find the audial assurance satisfactory. Some luxury labels, such as with Chanel’s signature Rouge Allure Velvet lipstick click case and Kjaer Weis’s swivel-top packaging, are already using such methods. More brands ought to take note.

Link: Go to website for News Source
https://www.voguebusiness.com/beauty/braille-beauty-packaging-loccitane


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