Consumer products giant Unilever is launching a prototype of what it says is the world's first deodorant for people with visual impairments and upper-limb motor disabilities under the name Degree Inclusive. The product will be called Rexona Inclusive elsewhere in the world under a brand that ranks as the biggest deodorant globally and trails only Dove as the company's second largest in personal care.
The product includes a hooked design for one-handed usage, magnetic closures that make it easier to take the cap off and put it back on for users with limited grip or vision impairment, enhanced grip placement for people with limited grip or no arms, a Braille label and instructions, and a larger roll-on applicator that makes it easier to reach more surface per swipe.
A video promoting Degree Inclusive showed how users could hang the product from the hook and use the magnetic cap to easily remove the cap using one hand.
It came from a project launched by Christina Mallon, global head of Wunderman Thompson's inclusive design practice, who herself has arm paralysis, said Bas Korsten, the agency's global chief creative officer.
"We said to Unilever, 'We think this is something important. Do you think this is something you could see yourself getting behind?'" Korsten says. "And they did more than that. It's been a short journey from idea to a product and a campaign even."
Unilever is currently having 200 users provide feedback about the product in beta mode, working with the Chicago Lighthouse, Open Style Lab and Muscular Dystrophy Association, says Kathryn Swallow, global brand vice president of Degree and Rexona. "We'll take this feedback and scale fast."
Developing products for people with disabilities isn't just a feel-good effort, but one with important business implications for Unilever and other marketers. One in four people in the U.S. has a disability, and 22 million people have either visual impairment or upper-body mobility disabilities, Swallow says.
It is also estimated the community has a collective buying power of $8 trillion, according to Magna. Yet these groups are not prioritized when it comes to the distribution of content.
According to a study conducted by Magna, Current Global and IPG Media Lab, social platforms are comparatively difficult to use no matter the type of disability, with users reporting challenges including small text, misleading buttons, ads interfering with actual posts, too many menus and difficulty navigating.