Sales: $7.4 billion for baby beauty and oral care products. Corporate sales: $76.5 billion.
Key Personnel: Alex Gorsky, chairman and chief executive officer; Dominic J. Caruso, executive vice president, chief financial officer; Jorge Mesquita, executive vice president, worldwide chairman, consumer; Sandra E. Peterson, group worldwide chair; Michael Sneed, worldwide vice president, global corporate affairs and chief communication officer; Paul Stoffels, MD, executive vice president, chief scientific officer; Jennifer Taubert, company group chairman, Johnson & Johnson; Kathryn E. Wengel, worldwide vice president, Johnson & Johnson supply chain.
Major Products: Baby—Johnson’s; Beauty—Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Dabao, Johnson’s, Le Petite Marseillais, Lubriderm, Neutrogena, OGX, RoC, Sundown; Oral care—Listerine.
New Products: Aveeno—Absolutely Ageless Pre-Tox leave-on day mask lotion broad spectrum SPF 30; Clean & Clear—Acne Triple Clear; Neutrogena—Rapid Wrinkle Repair regenerating cream, Hydro Boost water gel lotion, Kerry Washington essential cheek palette and essential eye palette. Listerine—Gum Care. To be launched—Johnson’s CottonTouch wash. Acquisitions—Vogue International, NeoStrata, La Lumiere, Dr. Ci: Labo, Hipoglós.
Comments: Corporate sales increased 6.3%, due in large part to an 8.0% volume gain, but sales of baby, beauty and oral care products taken together, were flat.
The good news is that beauty sales continue to shine. Sales rose 7.8% last year to $4.2 billion. Most of the growth came from sales of the recently-acquired Vogue International and Dr. Ci: Labo, but the company also cited sales gains for its Neutrogena franchise.
Baby care sales fell 4.2% to $1.9 billion, which J&J blamed on competitive pressure, which was also blamed, in part, for a 4.2% dip in oral care sales.
In a recent presentation to analysts, Jorge Mesquita, executive vice president, worldwide and chairman, J&J Consumer, noted several consumer trends including healthy beauty, aging population, naturals/organics and an emerging middle class. Those and other trends provided a tailwind for several years as J&J Consumer posted a 3.4% CAGR from 2014 to 2016. Last year, however, sales slowed as category growth decelerated and customers around the world reduced their inventory. But Mesquita is confident that recent moves, including the acquisitions of Dr. Ci:Labo, Vogue International, La Lumiére and NeoStrata, will help to quickly turn things around.
For the first quarter of 2018, J&J’s beauty sales rose 10.4% to nearly $1.1 billion. Baby care sales, which includes powder, fell 14.2% to $97 million. To get the baby care sales growing again, J&J is relaunching its baby franchise. The new lineup includes baby powder with cotton; in addition, J&J will continue to offer its talc and cornstarch variant. The move is a response to a 20% decline in sales during the past seven years, as more parents worry about talc and other ingredients that they put on their baby. In recent years, J&J has fought hundreds of lawsuits that contend Johnson’s Baby Powder causes ovarian cancer.
Even with the legal issues, J&J remains the global leader in the category, but has redesigned the line and will introduce it to stores in next month.
“Perhaps because of our success, we became a bit complacent and did not want to mess with success, for lack of a better expression,” explained Mesquita, who oversees J&J’s $13 billion global consumer unit, in an interview with CNBC. “Frankly, we failed to see evolving needs from millennial consumers, millennial moms, and we failed to evolve our model.”
According to Trisha Bonner, associate director of research and development at J&J Consumer, moms want fewer, simpler ingredients, more naturally derived ingredients in their products.
As a result, J&J is cutting the number of ingredients in the new Johnson’s Baby line by half, eliminating dyes and sulfates and replacing ingredients like mineral oil with coconut oil. J&J also changed the packaging to add pumps to many of its products to make them easier to use while holding a baby.
Baby wash products are also designed to leave less residue.
The packaging will be changed to make it easier to recycle, and will include instructions on how to do so. Finally, J&J will share information online about the ingredients in fragrances. It will still use both synthetic and natural fragrances.
J&J insists changes are being made, not because of safety issues, but because that’s what customers wanted.
“We are absolutely certain that science shows that our talcum product is safe, and we will defend our brand and defend our product,” Mesquita said. “But we’re always innovating, we’re always trying to evolve and upgrade.”
Mesquita said he expects the reboot to improve profit margins because of a simplification of its supply chain. He declined to provide specific estimates.
“We’re very convinced that this restage will get Johnson’s Baby back to growth,” he said.