– Draeke Weseman, Weseman Law Office, PLLC

Some folks sing in the shower. Others critique the packaging of their face cleanser.

 Garnier’s Clean+ Purifying Foam Cleanser is a good cleanser packaged in a plain-looking bottle. The bottle looks like your normal foam dispenser, and, picking it up for the first time, you would expect to pump the top and get some foam. But looks can be deceiving: Garnier’s bottle has no pump. Instead, you simply twist the top and squeeze.

Looking over the bottle, though, there is no name for this unique foam-dispensing mechanism. Garnier provides only a red elliptical shape at the top with the instruction: “squeeze bottle to foam.”

Does this seem like a missed intellectual property opportunity to you? What about a missed marketing opportunity? What if I told you that eight out of the nine reviews I found on Garnier’s website and Amazon mentioned the feature? Here are a few:

I came across this product because my roommate threw it in the trash. She does that a lot; it’s how I try a lot of beauty products. I’m guessing she couldn’t figure out how to work the pump. #notthebrightestbulb. Anyways, you squeeze the bottle, it foams, and comes out.

The bottle is tricky, maybe put some visual directions on the bottle? This is a new design to most people, as I have not seen such cleansers (or other products) where you would have to squeeze the bottle.

The foam dispenser is genius — super easy to use!

It seems to me that Garnier is missing out here. Without a name for its foam-dispensing mechanism, Garnier has no way to capture and develop the goodwill earned by some purchasers’ positive experiences. Naming the product feature would give the public a shared term to reference in passing along word-of-mouth recommendations and lower search costs when purchasers look for other Garnier products with the named feature. A name would also draw attention to the feature, helping some of the purchasers figure out how to use it. And naming the feature wouldn’t be that difficult: a name like “Simple Squeeze” or “Clean Squeeze Technology” might work.

By using a name to call attention to and capture the goodwill in the product feature, and by protecting the name with a trademark, Garnier could gain a marketing advantage against all those normal pump-top bottles out there. Further, the trademark for the name of the product feature could be paired up with non-traditional trademarks, like non-functional product packaging or color, and marketers could work the name into corresponding “look for” advertising campaigns. All of these trademark rights that Garnier could develop would exist on top of any patent rights and copyrights that Garnier might also acquire for the product feature or packaging. This is the robust intellectual property layering that Steve blogged about last week.

Ok, so maybe this is a lot to ask from a foam dispenser. Then again, people like to squeeze things! And squeezing seems to build serious brand connections. Am I right, Charmin?

So let’s ask the marketing types. What do you think: should Garnier try to squeeze a little more out its foam-dispensing mechanism? Should we trademark types spend more time helping our clients find these opportunities to squeeze the most out of a product feature?

  • stevebaird

    Thanks Draeke, great post, I couldn’t agree more.

  • James Mahoney

    Good ideas generally, Draeke, but the best is the one about expanding the consultative services/insights that trademark types can offer their clients. I’m all for value-add of that type.

    I did a quick search on “garnier squeeze to foam” to see what comes up. The first listing, after the paid placements, was this one: http://www.musingsofamuse.com/2014/01/garnier-purifying-foam-cleanser-review.html, which Garnier probably wasn’t too keen to read.

    Incidentally, the image in that not-so-great product review shows a sticker that your bottle apparently doesn’t have. It says, next to an up-pointing arrow: “Pull Cap Up. Squeeze Bottle. Do Not Pump.”

    If Garnier were a client of mine, I’d be strongly recommending that they reach out to bloggers like Isabella Muse to resolve her issues with the product and technology (assuming that they could be resolved). At a minimum, she’d appreciate the notice, and would probably blog about it in a more positive light.

    Back to the product, though, while innovative packaging could help the marketing effort, what’s in the bottle is what matters. Whether I squeeze to pump or pump to pump doesn’t matter a whole lot. In fact, the new packaging probably benefits Garnier more than the customer, since I’m betting it costs less by using fewer parts and materials than the standard pump does. In that case, it would be more valuable as a point to make in a “Garnier cares about the environment and sustainability” corporate responsibility message.

    Further, there’s no real time-saving in a squeeze, and in fact, it could be counter-productive since I have to pick up the bottle to get the contents out. With the standard pump top, the bottle could remain on the shelf while I dispense the foam–one step vs three: pick up bottle, squeeze, put down bottle (assuming you left the cap up after the first use). Hmmm, I think I just thought my way out of buying the product. ;-)

    • Thanks for the additional thoughts and excellent insights, James. I agree that In the tribal world of blogging (ex. Food Babe, http://foodbabe.com), it is so important to tackle product issues and show that you are listening. You’re absolutely right that Garnier should be working with bloggers like Isabella Muse.

      I also like your idea about highlighting an environmental benefit of the technology. To run with that idea a little bit, Garnier could take a look at what Dasani did with water bottles. Not only did Dasani name the technology (PlantBottle), Dasani put its benefits front and center in a short video on the website homepage (http://www.dasani.com).

      • Alex Weseman

        Being somewhat of a novelty connoisseur myself, I see several advantages to this design that are especially marketable. To single out the most notable of these in my perception of the squeeze design, would be a lacking requirement for a ‘straw’ using low pressure to pump contents out. The advantage here being it should then allow individuals to up-end the bottle and not waste portions of the product, in the same way a squeezable ketchup bottle can accomplish the same effect.

        I must add in contrast here that even the best intentioned, appearing sufficiently marketed, designs can go quite awry. We don’t have to look very far back to find large diversified and and well established companies experiencing this (no I wont mention Tucker cars). PepsiCo and its quasi-healthy chip product (Sun Chips) actually lost sales in its first ever ‘compostable’ chip packaging/bag.

        http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2014/03/18/pepsis-biodegradable-backlash-snack-bag-was-too-noisy

        I see this as a clear support of the need for proper planning and obtaining of intellectual property rights. How?

        It offers the company the opportunity (time) to revise, improve, and align the product to the consumer’s responses. Time without another company (unobjectionably) catching easy R&D free opportunities through the opportunity siphon of re-branding and re-marketing, a simply unbalanced product release.