J&J revamps baby products and message to appeal to millennial moms

A first look at J&J's revamp of its baby care product line with updated looks, formulations and an upcoming ad campaign. (Johnson & Johnson)

New moms will see a new and even gentler Johnson & Johnson Baby later this year. J&J is planning a refresh of its Johnson's baby products for millennial parents who want safety and transparency from brands, along with more healthy and natural products.

The redesign and reformulation of the baby line updates both the products and the messaging. A consumer marketing and advertising campaign, including a new tagline, is expected to launch in August, and two new products meant specifically for delicate newborn skin will be added.

One of the key product messages J&J will trumpet is that its baby products no longer have dyes or sulfates, and the company phased out parabens, phthalates and other preservatives several years ago.

“Parents have always trusted Johnson’s to be mild and gentle for baby and have relied on formulas such as ‘No More Tears’. Hospitals use Johnson’s for baby’s first bath. Our new standard of gentle builds on this foundation,” Sarita Finnie, senior director of baby care at J&J, said in an email interview.

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Other changes will include redesigned ergonomic bottles with 50% more pumps for wiggly baby bath time, and translucent bottles that will be tinted to help parents find products by color.

Digital marketing and communications will play an important role in the relaunch, and the company will use its BabyCenter online parenting community "as the engine," Alison Lewis, the global chief marketing officer at J&J Consumer, told analysts earlier this month.

"We will be able to give parents what they want, when they want and this is something that no one else can do, a huge competitive advantage for us," she said, adding that the idea around the Johnson's brand would reclaim "our safe, mild, gentle heritage and point of difference with powerful purpose and promise-based communication."

J&J’s baby care sales have declined over the past several years, finishing with $1.92 billion in sales for 2017, down from $2 billion in 2016 and $2.16 billion in 2015.

Some of the challenges have come from the rise of smaller private competitors that focus on natural or eco-friendly products such as the Honest Company, Earth Mama and retailer private label brands.

Another challenge has been the ongoing lawsuits around its talc-containing baby powder. J&J does not plan to remove talc from the formulation, maintaining the products are safe. It told FiercePharma earlier this year that its “talc products are, and always have been, free of asbestos, based on decades of monitoring, testing and regulation dating back to the 1970s."

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