Unilever’s Persil adds QR codes to detergent packs for visually impaired consumers
27 Mar 2023 --- Persil, Unilever detergent brand, is adding Accessible QR codes (AQR) to a range of its packs, developed in partnership with Zappar and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). The codes were designed to provide the UK’s two million blind and partially sighted population with access to product information and a more inclusive shopping experience.
The AQR code will be available on Persil’s capsules in plastic-free packaging and its Ultimate Liquids range. Unilever, RNIB and Zappar hope this initiative will drive a broader conversation on the accessibility of consumer goods and make accessible product information a standard for packaging design.
“Although QR codes have been in mainstream use for almost 30 years now, they have lacked the important ingredient of accessibility,” says Caspar Thykierm, CEO and co-founder of Zappar.
“This is really about helping make a small but important everyday quality-of-life improvement in people’s lives.”
Innova Market Insights pegged “Meaningful connections” as a top trend for 2023, noting that “inclusivity strides” for disabled consumers are increasingly being tackled through connected technologies like QR codes and near field communication.
Accessibility for everyone
The code is accessible via smartphone. It provides product, usage, safety and recycling information designed with blind and partially sighted users in mind.
The QR codes can be detected by the accessibility app Zapvision with integration into Microsoft Seeing AI.
“For us, this is bigger than Unilever, and we see it as a first step in helping make packaging more accessible for everyone,” explains Nadine Slyper, Unilever laundry marketing director.
“We’re pleased to be exploring AQR codes as a business and hope to see other companies and accessibility apps join in this conversation.”
The AQR interacts with the device’s configured accessibility features to display information in larger text or audio-described and voice-guided formats.
Persil says the enhancement means brands can integrate a layer of accessibility, use their existing code scheme and not take up any extra space on-pack. The AQRs are more detectable by adding additional markings to existing QR codes.
Packaging provides independence
Mark Powell, RNIB’s Accessibility Innovation lead, says more than two million people in the UK are living with sight loss, and by 2050, it will double to over 4 million people.
“It’s great to be collaborating with Unilever and Zappar on making packaging more accessible for blind and partially sighted people, as we should have the same freedom, independence and choice as sighted customers.”
As the technology is rolled out, Unilever will work with Microsoft to collate user feedback from the blind and partially sighted communities to optimize the technology to make further improvements.
Persil’s capsules in plastic-free packaging and its Ultimate Liquid range will have the new enhanced codes on the pack by the end of March. The brand has committed to adding AQR codes to its full range by the end of next year.
Companies moving toward inclusion
Similarly, last year Microsoft and Haleon launched a feature to Microsoft’s Seeing AI app that reads health product labels aloud for people who are blind or have impaired vision.
“We’re only at the very start of this journey, but we hope this simple and scalable solution will, over time, be adopted by more forward-thinking brands who will join this movement,” Caspar concludes.
PackagingInsights will be hosting a live webinar on connected packaging technologies titled “The Internet of Packaging: Are connected technologies the future of brand engagement?” on April 12th. We will be talking with industry experts from Innova Market Insights and IoT specialist SharpEnd.
Sign up here and submit questions as fast as possible for the best change of a response.
Edited by Sabine Waldeck
To contact our editorial team please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Subscribe now to receive the latest news directly into your inbox.