Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Clients and case studies

Commissioned research clients

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  • Age UK
  • Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC)
  • British Gas
  • British Healthcare Trades Association
  • Business Disability Forum
  • Communications Consumer Panel
  • Department for Business, Innovation & Skills
  • Department for Transport
  • English Federation of Disability Sport
  • Marks and Spencer
  • Motability Operations
  • Nampak Plastics Ltd
  • O2
  • Rail Safety and Strategy Board
  • Royal National Institute of Blind people (RNIB)
  • SNC Lavalin
  • Superdrug
  • Transport Focus
  • Transport for London (TfL)
  • Which?

Grants and donations

Recent funders of Rica's research include:

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  • Clothworkers' Foundation
  • Consumers' Association (Which?)
  • GEM Road Safety Charity
  • International Consumer Research and Testing
  • John Ellerman Foundation
  • Motability Tenth Anniversary Trust
  • RAC Foundation
  • Rees Jeffreys Road Fund
  • Scope
  • Thomas Pocklington Trust
  • 4814 Trust

Case Studies

The difference we make..

O2 : Providing insight from disabled customers

O2 logoRica and Business Disability Forum (BDF) were commissioned by O2 to identify:

  1. what disabled customers expect from a communication provider
  2. the experience of disabled people accessing O2's services
  3. what ‘excellence’ means with regard to meeting the needs of disabled customers

Rica conducted 72 mystery shopping inspections across three O2 channels: voice, online and stores.

Charlotte Hall, O2's Head of Regulation for Complaints & Accessibility said: “The outputs from the research project have played an integral part in shaping our strategy for supporting customers with disabilities."

See the full case study report

Usability: British Gas Hive Active Heating 2

British Gas Hive Active 2 thermostat controlBritish Gas worked with Rica to independently test Hive Active Heating 2 and its full range of new heating controls with older and disabled consumers as part of the product’s design process.

Rica tested the Hive 2 thermostat for accessibility to identify best and worst features and provide qualitative and quantitative data to support our findings. We were pleased that its design now includes many suggestions made by our consumer testing panel, including:

  • improved colour contrast on the display
  • tactile textured feedback
  • smoother operation of the selection dial

For more information, see the press release


Marks & Spencer  and Nampak packaginghands opening a jar

Rica has been commissioned to test packaging with members of our RicaWatch consumer panel. Case studies include:

Mobility scooters tested for ease of use

Scooters are growing in popularity, and there’s a lot of variation in design, particularly around the controls. Rica  carried out research looking at scooter safety and the ease-of-use of controls, including:

Testers had a range of visual and dexterity impairments. Some were experienced scooter users, others novices. We tested large scooter models designed for the road as well as pavement and boot scooters. Our research findings are published online as:

Our research was funded by the Motability Tenth Anniversary Trust.

Smart metering – how easy to use are in-home displays?

Smart metersAll homes in Great Britain will have a smart meter installed by 2019 and be given an in-home display (IHD) to show their energy consumption. Rica believes it’s crucial that these displays are easy for all consumers to use, including those who are older or have a disability.

Working with Consumer Focus (now Consumer Futures) Rica carried out extensive usability testing of prototype IHDs. We published three smart metering research reports.

Our work also led to a new requirement in the Government’s technical specification requiring new IHDs to: ‘…enable the information to be easily accessed and presented in a form that is clear and easy to understand including by consumers with impaired: Sight; Memory and learning ability; Perception and attention; or Dexterity.' 

The Government also specifically referenced the good practice guidelines on inclusive IHD design produced by Rica and published by Consumer Focus.

Mystery shopping confirms Age UK Trading good sales practices

It's important to ensure that older consumers can easily find good quality products that suit their needs, and that they aren't pressurised into buying. Rica's research includes:

  • Since 2007, Rica has been able to confirm that Age UK Trading's stairlifts, mobility scooters, specialist beds and bathing aids trading partners are doing a good job and treating customers well.
  • Using our unique national mystery shopping panel Rica reported back on sales practices. We were also able to benchmark against competitors.
  • Rica’s research has included hundreds of home visit and telephone investigations. Our trained panel members reported on their experiences of contacting the companies, the sales visit, the information provided by the companies and any follow up.

Last updated: November 2017