“It’s taken me 45 trips around the sun, but for the first time in my life I know what it feels like to have a ‘band-aid’ in my own skin tone.”
That was how one Twitter user last year described finding a plaster that matched his own skin tone for the first time. It was “like belonging, like feeling valued”, he said.
That millions of shoppers will now be able to find such plasters at Tesco is no small step forward, and the supermarket should rightly be applauded. It has, with a relatively small move, potentially made a big difference to a lot of people.
Tesco launched its new range of fabric plasters - available in three skin tones: light, medium and dark - today for £1. They were developed as a direct response to the tweet above, which was spotted by a member of staff and brought to the attention of the senior team.
The development process was supported by the ‘BAME at Tesco’ internal colleague network, which believes there was “a real opportunity” to make a difference in the lives of customers.
“One of the main objectives of our network is to help Tesco better serve our customers from all backgrounds and communities,” said Paulette Balson, Chair of the BAME at Tesco network. “No UK supermarket had ever stocked plasters in a range of skin tones before and we saw this as an opportunity for Tesco to lead the charge and make a genuine difference.”
It is thoroughly encouraging to see a business as large as Tesco tackle an issue like this with such genuine sensitivity.
Admittedly, Tesco isn’t the first business (in the world, at least) to do this: South African brand Plasta made serious headlines when it rolled out its own Dark Tone plasters earlier in the decade.
It is, however, the first to do it en masse, at an accessible price point. Which is undeniably worth celebrating – but is also a stark reminder of the work that remains to be done in making sure everyone is represented when it comes to everyday essential goods. It is simple common sense.
The only question is: why did it take so long?
We do, after all, live in a world of voice activated robot assistants that can order a six-pack of Heineken without you having to leave the sofa. And it’s taken until 2020 to make a plaster of a different shade…
In any case, the overwhelmingly positive reception to this move should be a wake-up call for other retailers to get on board. And there’s no doubt big suppliers will be watching with interest.
Well played, Tesco.