By Leanne M. Rakers, Principal
The cosmetics industry is on the path to achieve phenomenal growth. Rather than the shelves at your local beauty supply store becoming more crowded, though, the industry is looking to immerse its devoted fans into new and innovative “experiences” that tailor their products to their consumers’ needs.
Aptly dubbed “consumer experience” marketing, this newer trend sees companies engaging with their consumers throughout the buying cycle – from identifying new fashion styles to promoting new products, creating new environmentally-friendly packaging, or even telling consumers which products to apply based on environmental factors and selfies uploaded to new, digital apps.
The goal is to provide consumers with a wholly positive experience. Even if the product itself is fairly ordinary, providing a great experience could lead to more sales and, importantly, consumers sharing their experiences with their social networks.
With so many companies competing to provide the best experience, it is important to protect any innovative products or services that may be borne of these efforts. That protection is summed up in a two-word phrase: intellectual property, or IP for short.
As companies develop new consumer experiences, here are four practical IP strategies that can help ensure their intellectual property is safeguarded:
First, protect packaging innovations with design and utility patents. Businesses interested in new, greener printing methods or creating more efficient methods of driving new products from R&D to the shelves, for example, should look into having these processes patented.
Second, protect consumer engagement technology with trademarks, utility patents and design patents. This is particularly applicable to new smartphone apps, such as L’Oréal’s Style My Hair 3D app.
Third, protect new consumer engagement spaces with design patents and trademarks. Companies building brick and mortar stores or salons can protect design elements of their stores with design patents. Similarly, design elements can be protected for studio spaces that are used to film new trend-spotting or “how-to” videos for YouTube or Instagram. The names of both spaces may also be eligible for trademark protection.
Fourth, protect consumer engagement services with service marks. Where trademarks protect products, service marks protect the IP behind services. Be sure to apply for service mark protection for any new services, such as hair and make-up counseling.
Importantly, as brands evolve and create new products, their intellectual property strategy should follow a similar path to ensure it is always updated and protecting valuable IP assets.