18 Apr Betterlife and other brands ringing the changes in accessible retailing
With an estimated consumer spend of £212bn – dubbed the ‘Purple Pound’ – no retailer should ignore the consumer with disabilities sector. A series of new retail brands are emerging aimed at this market – a move which promises to significantly enhance the retail experience for many people.
The Betterlife subsidiary launched by Lloyd’s Pharmacy might be the most indicative of changing attitudes towards disability retailing. In an age where more and more businesses are leaving the high street and focusing on online retail – online spending has grown by around 75%, according to Verdict Retail – Betterlife has bucked the trend by opening a string of physical stores.
The success of the first Betterlife store in Leeds which opened in August 2014 led to a further six stores opening in the UK, with branches now in Gillingham, Trowbridge, Norwich, Redditch and two in Birmingham.
Betterlife seems to be aiming towards a truly disabled-friendly experience. The store interiors include a fully furnished bedroom and bathroom, a multi-surface track to test mobility products on and even a car boot to check the ease of loading products into vehicles.
A third of people with disabilities have issues in accessing public and commercial goods and services. A recent article run by BBC News highlighted a number of growing businesses set up exclusively to serve those with disabilities. Some of these brands include the Blue Badge Company, which makes stylish accessories for disabled people. The Blue Badge Company has gone from one employee to sixteen, and its founder, Ellen Green, was confident enough to turn down offers when she appeared on Dragon’s Den. The company manufactures products which Ellen says are “As sexy as disability gets. We’re cheeky and recognise this gap for practical solutions with bright designs which say more about someone’s personality than their disability.”
Another business highlighted is Good Food Talks, an app which enables restaurants to create audible menus. The app, founded by Londoner Matt Wadsworth, already has 1000 restaurants on board – including Nando’s, Pret A Manger and Carluccio’s – and looks like playing a leading role in improving eating out for people with visual impairments. It’s an undoubted positive to see brands like Betterlife, The Blue Badge Company and Good Food Talks not only paying lip service to accessibility, but actively aiming their product at the disability market. Here’s to more brands following in their footsteps.