Procter & Gamble Co. is leading the way in accessible product design with new Herbal Essences bottles that will make it easier for visually impaired customers to distinguish between shampoo and conditioner through the sense of touch. This design is the first of its kind for a mass market hair product sold in North America and will be available beginning in January.
To alleviate the confusion between the two products (which share the same bottle shape), P&G created different indented patterns. The shampoo bottles have tactile vertical lines on the bottom of the back label and the conditioner has two rows of dots.
The idea for this innovative packaging came from Sumaira "Sam" Latif, P&G’s special consultant for inclusive design, who is blind.
"Imagine the daily challenges, like choosing matching clothes in the morning or simply taking a shower after a long day," Latif said in an article in the Cincinnati Business Courier. “As a blind person, you must do these things using touch rather than sight. You don’t really know which bottle the shampoo, conditioner, or soap is. … You have to get creative. I used to put an elastic band around shampoo or (cellophane) tape on conditioner to remind me.”
While this packaging was designed to help customers with low or no vision, it can also help people unfamiliar with the language on the label, like customers who don’t know braille or who have learned English as a second language.
"Making our products more accessible can improve the experience for everyone," said Lynn Hicks, P&G’s brand manager for Herbal Essences North America, in the same Cincinnati Business Courier piece. “While we designed this tactile feature specifically for the visually impaired, others, like seniors or kids, will also benefit from this feature.”
Latif is hopeful this new packaging will make a real difference in the lives of customers, as it has in hers.
"Every time I pick up this new bottle in the shower, I smile," Latif said. “Knowing for the first time in my life I can be so sure that it’s shampoo, that feels great. And I hope others experience this same feeling.”
Emily has written for some of the top tech companies, covering everything from creative copywriting to UX design. When she's not writing, she's traveling the world (next stop: Japan!), brewing kombucha, and biking through the Pacific Northwest.