A new generation of parents is shaking up the baby skin care products game and threatening to dethrone a long-held industry giant from its number one spot.
Johnson & Johnson has retained the trust of parents for generations as the number one choice for skin care, but for the first time thanks to millennials, it is not enjoying quite the same success. While it still remains the top selling baby line, its market shares have been on a steady decline. The reason? A millennial shift in tastes and priorities.
In the United States, more than a million millennials are becoming moms every year. In fact, 1.2 million millennial women gave birth for the first time in 2016, bringing the total to 17 million millennial moms in total. What is especially unique about this cohort is their united front when it comes to choosing what to buy, especially for their children.
"Millennial parents are more similar today than any other generation before them," said Trisha Bonner, chief of staff and strategic initiatives at Johnson & Johnson. "So there’s this global-ness about how they think and act, and what they like, that we’ve never seen before."
That doesn't spell good news for the company. The millennial desire for "clean and natural" products is at an all-time high, and many women are opting for alternate brands to fulfill their needs. Brands like Babyganics, the Honest Company, Aveeno, Burt’s Bees, California Baby, and French heritage brand Mustela are becoming more and more popular across the country.
These brands have picked up on this and run with it. Mustela, for example, though around for decades, has seen sales climb by 30 per cent since last year. The company attributes this to their marketing, pushing its "95 percent natural ingredients". It has served them well, and it also hasn't hurt them reaching out to social media influencers like Kim and Khloe Kardashian in the process.
As if Johnson & Johnson didn't have enough worries in the last several years, then came the scary headlines. In 2009, The Washington Post reported carcinogens in theirs and other brands, and it only got worse from there. By 2014, the company had quietly removed chemicals such as formaldehyde from their products as a result of the backlash.
After realizing they had "failed to see evolving needs from millennial consumers, millennial moms, and we failed to evolve our model," Johnson & Johnson undertook a massive rebrand - a project that took over three years and saw the input of a 26,000-person global parent focus group. Just this July, the company began to launch its new line of overhauled, natural-branded products, hoping to win back some of the market share now enjoyed by its competitors.
It is still too early to predict when - or even if - the company will bounce back, but one thing is for certain: Johnson & Johnson is still the most budget-friendly brand on the market. For example, a 10-ounce bottle of Johnson & Johnson Head-to-Toe Baby Wash and Shampoo costs $2.99 US at Target, compared to Ever Eden, which charges $19 for an 8.5-ounce bottle on an equivalent product.