Promoting Brand Loyalty With Accessible Design

Imagine walking into a store where all the things you needed were on the top shelf–only reachable by using a ladder. Would you return to that venue if you knew there was a similar store nearby that was more accessible? Likely not.

Similarly, consumers with accessibility needs will likely opt for products that are the most accessible. By creating inclusive designs, you can expand your market reach and promote equality.

What is accessible design?

Accessible design (also referred to as inclusive or universal design) focuses on designing for people with a range of abilities. In short, this type of design doesn’t assume that everyone can easily read or use every kind of packaging. It takes into consideration the needs of users of all ages and abilities. As the world’s baby boomers age, more consumers will need accessible packaging — packaging that is easy to read and easy to open.

Why does inclusive packaging matter?

The world’s population is undergoing a significant shift as more baby boomers age. More consumers will need accessible packaging as their ability to see, hear and move deteriorates. It’s not just the elderly who need inclusive design though. According to a 2010 study by Hosking, Waller, and Clarkson, only 21% of the population has no difficulties with packaging design. The other 79% of the population is a “target for inclusive design.” This study shows inclusive design is no longer a fringe concept as most consumers fall somewhere on the disability spectrum.

Consumers are living with a range of disabilities. Such as a cognitive disability (like dyslexia or attention deficit disorder), a physical disability like a visual impairment or a mobility impairment.

How To Make Your Packaging More Inclusive

Braille Packaging: Braille allows people living with visual impairments to read information on your packaging. Braille is legally required for pharmaceutical products and is widely used by food companies. However, other industries, including beauty and apparel could benefit adopting braille. Braille allows consumers to independently pick up your product from the shelf and learn vital information about it. Without Braille, customers may rely on someone else to interpret your product for them. Moreover, consumers are more likely to opt for the product that caters to them and their needs. Using braille shows users of all disabilities that you care about promoting accessibility and equality.

Note: When creating packaging for people with a particular disability, conduct interviews with that target demographic,  like the process you would undertake when doing market research to launch a new product. However, take things a step further and be sure to take detailed notes on how your design helps or hinders their disability.

Simple to Open Packaging

There’s nothing more frustrating than being hungry at lunch, picking up food and then not being able to open it. For most of us, that moment is irritating; but, hard to open packaging can prevent those with arthritis or a disability from using your product. To make your packaging easy to open, consider the following:

  • Cardboard boxes that simply need the consumers to lift the lid off (similar to the design for a conventional shoebox)
  • Packaging that has serrated edges at the top, to tear easily
  • Packaging with large ‘tear here’ signage to show where consumers should open the packaging


The Bottom Line

Accessible or universal packaging has a variety of names — such as Equally Accessible, Flexible Design, Perceptible Information, Tolerance of Error, Low Effort, Financially Accessible.

Regardless of the language used, the message is clear, companies must move to adapt their products for users of all abilities. As the 2016 Euromonitor Report on Universal/Inclusive Packaging states, “Brand owners need to identify and target long-term demographic changes to ensure that their products remain relevant and at the forefront of consumer’s’ choice, and to maintain consumer loyalty.”  Accessible packaging, not only makes business sense, it is a humanist approach to design.