The Latest Look: The Rise of Accessibility in Beauty

John Griffiths
by: John Griffiths

Accessibility is a concept that’s growing in the beauty industry. For brands, improving accessibility allows them to broaden their customer base, which is always attractive. But improving accessibility goes beyond commercial reasoning – it’s simply the right thing to do. 

Google Trends: Searches for Accessibility between 30th June 2016 – 30th June 2022

With the goal of cohesive representation and inclusivity, accessibility acts as a shift towards a landscape that caters to everyone.

Alongside our recent whitepaper on inclusivity, we’ve taken a look back at the rise of accessibility in the beauty industry, showcasing a few brands that are doing it right.

What is Accessible Marketing?

In marketing, the term ‘accessible’ is often used to describe the actions of a brand that embraces the diversity of its customer base. This could be anything from having a website that can be used by those who are visually impaired, to having a product portfolio that doesn’t discriminate against certain members of society.

Generally, accessibility forms a part of a wider corporate social responsibility model, removing conscious and unconscious bias and ensuring opportunities are inclusive to everyone.

Keeping Up with Demand

According to Global Web Index, we see that 57% of adults believe beauty products are needed for people with mobility challenges. Coupling this with the additional spending power of those with disabilities, this opens up a major opportunity for upcoming and existing beauty brands to adopt into their own marketing efforts.

So, how exactly can they keep up with the demand?

1. Deep Customer Research

When you’ve been working in an industry for many years, it can be easy to get swept up in your own knowledge and make assumptions. It’s a tricky scenario, and the first step to solving it is to relinquish this judgement.

The journey to becoming a more accessible beauty brand starts when you give up your preconceived notions and biases about society. This can only begin following some deep market research that allows you to understand who your customers are, what challenges they face, and what they expect from you.

2. Ask Your Customers

Of course, research can only get us so far. To truly make an impact on your brand, the best people to ask would be your audience. Feedback forms and customer support emails are invaluable to any business, especially one trying to be more accessible.

Ensuring that you’re asking the right customers is essential too. Getting a wide variety of perspectives across genders, cultures and abilities makes it more likely that you don’t follow through on biases you and your team may have.

With this information, you’ll be able to diagnose specific problems your customers have identified while navigating your shop floor or website; placing you in a much more prepared position to make changes.

3. Make Adjustments

Now that you have seen the error in your ways, you’ll be in a much better position to reflect and introduce some much-needed changes.

If there’s a particular aspect of your products that your customers struggle with (or can’t find), now would be the time to rectify it. People with colour vision deficiency may find it hard to tell your products apart due to the contrast ratio setup, or perhaps your website is hard to navigate for other users with visual impairments.

Responsibilities for making these changes will fall across the business, not just the marketing department. For instance, we’ve previously been asked to ensure that a client shows as ‘Wheelchair Friendly’ on Google My Business, when actually that is something that can only be listed once independent accessibility experts have verified the building as such.

Does Accessibility Affect SEO?

For a more tailored response, I had a chat with our Senior Technical SEO Specialist, Beth Barnham. She said:

“Accessibility isn’t a tick box exercise for SEO. It won’t increase the rankings (especially as it’s not currently a ranking factor) but it will make your website accessible to users with disabilities. There are 14.6 million people with a disability in the UK (Scope), more than 2 million have a visual impairment (NHS). This leaves a massive market with a lot of spending power, being almost completely ignored.”

But visual aids aren’t the only things that can make websites more accessible, Beth adds:

“There are other use cases too including those users who are neurodivergent, users who have dyslexia and more who may benefit from accessing your site in a different way. Ensuring that all images have alt text to describe the image itself is one easy way to start making your site more accessible. Other ways include ensuring that all headers are correctly tagged up as such and are sequential.”

How to Spot Website Accessibility Problems

The best way to test if your website is accessible is by trying to navigate through every page using just your keyboard. Pressing in tab and moving around with arrow keys should allow you to highlight links and headings; click-through to other pages; and, if possible, complete a purchase.

Of course, some accessibility issues are a little more complex, and can only be uncovered through a full site audit. One of our favourite tools for checking accessibility issues is the WAVE plug-in for Google Chrome.

The tool checks for things that are not immediately apparent to the untrained eye. For example, if images have alt tags or any structural elements severely impacting your website’s pagination. While these things might seem small, combined, they add up to a sizable impact.

Accessible Marketing Examples

Here are a few of our favourite examples of accessible marketing in the beauty industry:

1. Fenty Beauty

It would be remiss for us to not mention this expertly achieved feat of accessibility by Fenty Beauty. Launched in 2017, Fenty Beauty is a line of beauty products owned by Rihanna that is aimed solely at marginalised members of society such as black women.

What makes Fenty so great is its simplicity; Rihanna spotted a problem and solved it. The problem being that for many years, the beauty industry catered mainly for fairer-skinned individuals, with only specialised products being available for black women.

Fenty Beauty acted as a major starting point for further conversations around inclusive beauty.

2. Grace Beauty

Grace Beauty is an up and coming makeup brand with products that are designed solely for those with physical disabilities who find it hard to use traditional products.

Grace Beauty identified that there were a vast amount of people with physical disabilities who were unable to hold and properly use beauty products – and who weren’t being catered for by mainstream suppliers. The company then solved it elegantly via intuitive additions to existing products such as rings for fingers and rubberised grips.

3. Kohl Kreatives

Of course, accessibility doesn’t start and finish with products. Nowadays, even company websites can make some quick changes to improve their navigational ability for those who are visually impaired.

Take Kohl Kreatives for example. Not only do Kohl produce beauty products designed with ergonomics in mind, but it has also come out as one of the most accessible sites we’ve come across in various testing suites. Our findings show only 11 issues, which, compared to the usual 100+ issues found on regular sites, is impressive.  

Is Your Accessibility Lacking?

Could it be time to up your accessibility ratings? While tests are one way of checking things, sometimes you need to call in the experts. If your website is suffering, make sure you partner with an agency that specialises in SEO for beauty brands to keep your products looking both great, and accessible. For some further reading, consider checking out our recent white paper: Beauty for All: The Makings of an Inclusive Industry.

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