Major beauty brand Olay is changing its packaging with the aim of making their products more accessible to people with disabilities, setting an example for other similar companies. Some of the new packaging features include an easy-open lid with a winged cap that makes gripping the product much easier and simpler, and high-contrast labels with Braille text.
These changes were a response to multiple complaints by customers with disabilities who had trouble even with opening Olay’s products, meaning having no access to them entirely. Their success was a result of the fact that the company worked on its prototypes alongside individuals who identify as having various types of disabilities.
Chris Heiert, senior Vice president of Olay, talked about this step in rethinking the packaging of Olay’s products and claimed that it is Olay’s responsibility to “ensure that all customers have access to products that serve their needs and fit seamlessly into their daily lives.”
The Olay team hopes that other beauty companies and brands will join Olay into making beauty products more accessible to everyone and is sharing their design widely in the community for this reason.
However, it hasn’t received an equivalent response by the disability community. To begin with, the packaging isn’t available in any stores yet, making it seem like the product wasn’t about disabled consumer’s afterall, but more about creating a “hype,” part of a strategy used to praise the brand for being “inclusive.”
Tech and social media journalist Emily Johnson supported this argument in an interview, saying that “most ‘accessible’ products aren’t about disabled consumers at all.” The target audience of the ‘accessible’ Olay products is also questioned by several users who noted that some of its features weren’t very thought out. For instance, viewers noticed that all the wing caps of the Olay jars are one size, preventing consumers from differentiating between them by touch. Others commented on the fact that the Olay ad was shared without alt-text online, making the information inaccessible for blind or low-vision individuals.
Hopefully, in the future, the hype behind ‘inclusive’ products will not stop in advertising; companies such as Olay should not claim to be an example of accessibility unless they actually follow through with creating and providing the products they so excitedly present.