Form Factors and Tactile Feedback

When Listerine began marketing their pocket breath sprays, I was really taken by the shape of the product.

Listerines pocket breath spray

The rounded edges combined with the hole at the top made it look and feel completely different to anything else that I keep in my pockets or desk drawers. To this day, I can grab my Listerine out of the center console of my car in short order without looking – the form is that unique. I imagine the same is true for purses (ladies?).

That’s why I was so mortified when I saw another, very different product cash in on that same form factor…

Neosporins neo-to-go spray, using the exact same form factor as listerine

That’s Neosporin’s new “Neo-to-Go,” which I saw advertised the other night on TV as a must-have for moms with accident-prone kids.

I think this is asking for trouble. While I’m probably not at risk of having both in my car, I could see women keeping both in their purses, and potentially mixing them up, with disastrous consequences.

Both of these products are made by Johnson & Johnson, and I’m sure their product designers found what seemed like another innovative use for a cool form factor. But the uniqueness of that form factor has other ramifications than strictly visual appeal, which I think they must have ignored or not even considered. I just hope the incidence of swallowing Neosporin doesn’t spike over the coming months.

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The conversation continues...

  1. On May 19th, 2008 at 8:58 am, Eric said:

    I’m not so sure that form factor is completely original. This is the first thing I thought of. I can’t imagine that mixing up a cigar cutter with either of these two products could be a pleasant experience.

  2. On May 19th, 2008 at 10:27 am, zsz said:

    That’s a good point! I suppose inspiration comes from the most unexpected places, but I hadn’t thought about a cigar cutter until you brought it up.

    But I think the shape, size, and smooth plastic still make these items unique. Plus, I think they are pretty likely to both be found in a mom’s purse.

    Of course, that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with a mom having a cigar cutter in her purse also. =D

What do you think?