ITC Ltd, the diversified cigarettes-to-shampoo company, pushed the envelope on inclusivity with the launch of Braille packaging for its health and hygiene brand Savlon on the second Thursday of October, which is observed annually as the World Sight Day.
“When you think about it, it’s a simple idea,” said Sameer Sathpathy, chief executive officer, personal care, ITC. “It also fits well with the antiseptic brand’s preposition that it’s caring and thinking about the consumer,” he added.
Yet, there are not even a handful of products in India that offer Braille packaged products. “May be we will now see other companies follow suit with similar initiative,” said Piyush Pandey, chief creative officer, Ogilvy India, the advertising agency for Savlon. A case in point is Savlon’s earlier launch of Healthy Hands Chalk Sticks which infused chalks with soap granules making hand wash fun for children. “The product is now in great demand in other international markets,” said Pandey.
One of the reasons for the low adoption of Braille in packaging could be the added cost. “Braille packaging adds to costs,” a 2013 article in The Pharmaceutical Journal by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, a professional membership body for pharmacists and pharmacy in Great Britain, said while reviewing Braille packaging in UK since its implementation following an EU directive in 2004 which mandated pharmaceutical companies to have Braille on their packaging.
All the same, Savlon’s pricing has not changed with the new packaging, said Sathpathy who is hopeful of the brand becoming a Rs500 crore brand in the next 2-3 years.
Savlon is present in the antiseptic liquid market which is pegged to be Rs 650 crore; hand wash — Rs. 600 crore and has also entered in the sanitizer category, which is pegged at Rs 70-80 crore, according to data from market research firm Nielsen.
The brand competes with Hindustan Unilever Ltd’s Lifebuoy which is a Rs 2,000 crore brand and Reckitt Benckiser India’s Dettol.
Also for the visually impaired the change is helpful. “It helps us to save time when looking into our cabinets for an antiseptic as we are more prone to small injuries than the average person,” said Suhas Karnik, general secretary, National Association for the Blind (NAB) who is hopeful that this launch will help create awareness and attention to the issues of the visually impaired.
According to the 2011 census data, 10 million people are visually impaired or have some eye ailments and disorders. However, this number is under-reported, claimed Karnik estimating it to be at 20-30 million people at least. However, there are no studies that tell us how many people can read Braille in India, said Karnik.