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"WeListen" Blog

Simple Change to Johnson & Johnson's Packaging Makes a Big Differences for Parents

Johnson & Johnson baby care products have been household standards for many generations of parents. But parenting styles and preferences change, and even iconic brands can suffer from sticking with what worked before if they don’t appear to be listening to their current, core consumer audience.

Recently, Johnson & Johnson took some cues from the startup community, listening intently to its target audience and learning what matters to them and how that might differ from what mattered a generation or two ago. To this end, they added pump dispensers to many of the brand’s main products, like shampoo and baby lotion, and changed product and packaging formulations to address concerns about chemicals in both the packaging and the product within. 

Why Johnson & Johnson Made Changes

Since 2011, sales of Johnson & Johnson baby care products have declined by 20%, and in the first quarter of 2018, sales were down by 14% in the US. The company is still a global leader in the product category, but it recently acknowledged that some changes were in order. In an interview with CNBC, Jorge Mesquita, chairman and executive VP for Johnson & Johnson’s consumer unit said, “Frankly, we failed to see evolving needs from millennial consumers, millennial moms, and we failed to evolve our model.”

Today’s parents not only care deeply about the ingredients in the products they use on their children, but they are also concerned about the ingredients in the consumer packaging in which those products are contained. Furthermore, they demand convenience for their time-pressed households. 

Pump Caps for Convenience and Consistency

If you have ever given a baby or toddler a bath, you know how slippery they can be and how nice it would be to have an extra hand or two. Putting the baby down, opening the bottle of shampoo or baby wash and accessing the product is an extra hassle that can be easily remedied with the addition of a pump top to the bottles. It’s not quite like having an extra set of hands, but it definitely helps.

Baby in a bathtub with a yellow rubber ducky.

Pumps dispense the right amount of product every time and help prevent spills and clean-ups. Pumps on thick liquid products, like baby wash or baby shampoo, act as an air suction device, drawing the product from the bottle into the consumer’s hand through a simple piston and actuator setup. The typical pump on a consumer health and beauty product dispenses 0.5 to 4 ml of product at a time, adding predictability to product usage for consistent results. 

Product Reformulation to Further Enhance Appeal to Millennial Parents

A few years ago, in the lead-up to Johnson & Johnson’s 2018 relaunch of their baby products, the company talked to thousands of mothers and learned that they wanted fewer, simpler ingredients in the products they used in caring for their babies. As a result, the company reduced the number of ingredients in the new product line by half, getting rid of dyes and sulfates, and replacing ingredients like mineral oil with ingredients perceived as friendlier and more natural, like coconut oil. In addition, the company removed parabens, which are product preservatives, as well as phthalates, which are ingredients used to control product structure. 

By listening to their core consumer demographic, personal care titan Johnson & Johnson found that they were missing the mark in terms of product ingredients as well as packaging design. By redesigning the packaging to include convenient pump dispensers (while reformulating the products themselves), Johnson & Johnson demonstrated to its target audience that it listens and is ready to adapt its product to changing consumer needs. PKG Brand Design is always on the forefront of new CPG branding and packaging initiatives; please subscribe to our blog for the latest package design industry news!

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