Johnson & Johnson is going on the offensive and overhauling its Johnson’s baby products. The iconic amber-colored Johnson’s Baby Shampoo will no longer be made that color by chemical dyes, but, rather will be clear and dye-free.
Changes in the entire baby products line are in response to recent market preference, where many customers express their views that all products that can be dye and chemical-free, should be. I happen to be one of that group, as well. Even though the WSJ credits the changes to the millennials, I can ascribe to the fact that there are a great number of Baby Boomers (those who started reading Adele Davis in the 1970s, 80s) who have long proclaimed the need to de-chemitize our foods and products. And, I can’t imagine a better place for a company to start that process than with their baby products. Because of J&J’s resistance to change, its baby products market share has declined 10 percent over the past five years. (Other, start-up companies have been offering natural products that compete favorably with Johnson & Johnson.) And, even though the baby products line at J&J constitutes only $1.5 billion of its $76.5 billion annual revenue, it’s the optics of the baby products that are highly important to the company. That, and the fact that the company’s products carry the company’s name – the only company that employs this practice. Thus, when a customer is satisfied, or dissatisfied with a product – for example, if they like Johnson’s Baby Shampoo – they’re likely to extend that preference to other of the company’s product lines. Johnson & Johnson has been selling baby products since 1894, when it launched its Johnson’s Baby Powder. So, perhaps they can be forgiven for being slow to react to the changing times. Older companies and larger companies often are slow to see the handwriting on the wall and to institute change. Many of them never do – that’s why we talk of companies like Kodak in the past tense. So, kudos to J&J for being advanced enough and modern enough to make the change. It’s reported in the WSJ that’s it’s a “high-stakes gamble, full of peril.” I couldn’t disagree more – I’d say that the baby products line will receive a serious shot-in-the-arm (metaphorically speaking) and that that will ripple through the rest of the company.