This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is a business development and marketing expert with experience in the paper, film, foil, and converting industry garnered over 25 years....more

Is P&G’s New Freshies Packaging a Good Idea?

Just last month, Procter & Gamble’s Secret brand introduced a new on-the-go antiperspirant called Freshies. Freshies is a small, discreet, portable antiperspirant and deodorant designed specifically for an on-the-go lifestyle.

At first glance, based on the description alone, it seems like Freshies is an innovative product line extension. It appears P&G took a well-established product in a mature category and gave it new life by introducing a smaller package that can be carried on-the-go. From a potential consumer standpoint they’ve created new additional selling opportunities with their existing customers and the possibility to tap into new customers that don’t buy their brand but might like the on-the-go product concept. Women, to whom this product innovation is targeted, can buy one for her purse, one for her gym bag, and another for her desk drawer.

Seems like a great idea. But is it?

For the past 5 years The Univ. of Michigan has held an Innovation in Action competition challenging student teams to innovate solutions that address public health and education problems. I especially like the criteria that judging is based on, and I believe that several of their criteria are fundamental to all product and service innovations:

  1. Problem Definition: Is there a clear and deep understanding of the problem? Is there a clear pain-point the idea is addressing?
  2. User and Customer Definition: Is the user and customer well-defined? Are the user’s needs understood?
  3. Product Definition: Is the product/solution well defined? Is the value proposition clear?
  4. Innovation: Is the solution distinctive or fundamentally different from existing approaches? Can the solution viably be implemented and sustained in the real world? Will the solution inspire people to support it and the company introducing it?
  5. Sustainability: Is the plan able to continually generate revenue to sustain the operations for the product/service?

These are well written, concise, clear criteria—ones that everyone involved in innovation for new product or service ideas should review, revise, and enhance to their own operation, and adopt. Many companies focus on the problem definition, customer definition, and product definition. But, they must also thoroughly consider and evaluate the innovative nature of the solution to ensure sustainability. With so many products and services available, will an innovation stand out in the crowd? Will the innovation deliver enough value that it can sustain the operation and continually generate revenue?

Back to Freshies. . .

Is it a great idea? Could it pass the criteria at the Univ. of Michigan?

From a problem definition, customer definition, and product definition, the solution works—it’s an on-the-go deodorant for women who don’t want to carry a full size deodorant product.

From an innovation standpoint, the solution tries to be distinctive and fundamentally different from existing approaches, which I would define as with a currently available travel size (0.5 oz. traditional stick-type deodorant packaging). Is a new package (orb versus traditional stick) enough to be distinctive and fundamentally different? It’s certainly eye catching and newsworthy. (Or I wouldn’t be writing about it!) But is it distinctive?

Honestly, my first reaction when seeing this product was, “Huh? This looks like EOS brand lip balm! If I put this in my purse, and it fell to the bottom of the bag, how would I know when I grabbed it if it was deodorant or lip balm? Would I take the risk and buy this product and put it in the bottom of my bag?” I don’t think so.

Today, the spherical orb shape that EOS is widely known for is used by other lip balm brands, including Blistex and RVO by OraLabs. So, the packaging shape isn’t brand exclusive. But, should it be product category excusive? Is this taking the phrase “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” just a bit too far?

The Secret website includes over 1,300 reviews for the product, with 92% recommending it. But I wondered if any reviewers cared about the packaging? Did anyone share my concern about confusing it with lip balm? One reviewer commented “…What makes this even worse is it's a copy cat design (while larger in size) of a popular lip balm. So be careful, this is for your underarms and not your lips!”

Another reviewer gave the product a 1 (out of a scale of 1—5), and commented “The shape reminds me too much of the EOS chap sticks. The deodorant ball is bigger but could still be mistaken if a person has both products. . . I believe the shape of the design may need to be changed, but I love the idea of on the go!” Additionally, there were comments about the difficulty of holding the orb while applying the product, with product getting all over their hands.

In my opinion, as a female consumer and a product innovator, it seems to me like Freshies missed the mark. As much as I might buy into the on-the-go solution, a potentially confusing lip-balm like orb that leaves deodorant on my hands doesn’t impress. Freshies failed to be distinctive and fundamentally different—critical factors for innovation and sustainability.

What do you think? Would this product pass your innovation criteria?

Subscribe to PFFC's EClips Newsletter