Johnson & Johnson is a company that's been around for generations - literally. Renowned worldwide, the nearly 125-year-old empire has enjoyed decades at the top of the supply chain, particularly when it comes to its diverse and well-loved baby product line. But now, in light of its recent market drop, it must pivot - or risk losing it all.
The internationally-acclaimed company is currently undergoing its biggest global change in almost half a century, partly due to millennial parents and their shift in tastes and priorities, but also in response to a slew of consumer reports and pressure concerning potentially harmful ingredients (specifically dyes, sulfates, parabens and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives) found in dozens of their products.
The backlash from the first reports in 2012 was damaging, and despite the company insisting that these ingredients were indeed safe, they quietly began the very long process of removing them in 2014. Revenue and market shares plummeted, and in 2015, efforts began in earnest to seek guidance over which ingredients and packaging choices consumers preferred and how to best redesign their total supply chain and manufacturing process.
According to Trisha Bonner, chief of staff and strategic initiatives at Johnson & Johnson, the company "failed to see evolving needs from millennial consumers, millennial moms, and we failed to evolve our model." Executives soon realized that these changes required a holistic approach - one that could not be achieved in isolation. Rather, an end-to-end approach from supply chain to shelf transformation was ultimately seen as the best route.
This was not a small undertaking. First, the company had to standardize their product and packaging across the board, internationally. As part of the supply chain overhaul, they harmonized their packaging specifications globally and consolidated suppliers and manufacturing plants to standardize the products. This resulted in reducing the number of chemical ingredient suppliers by 33 per cent, while decreasing the number of cosmetic ingredients used in the formulation from 17 to five. They even drastically reduced their packaging suppliers, cutting them from 50 to just six.
After three years, 26,000 customer interviews and drastic changes from ingredients to packaging, Johnson & Johnson has begun its massive rebrand worldwide. It will be debuting its classic products with 50 per cent fewer ingredients, and brand new, modern-looking bottles and packaging.
"This is the brand's most ambitious change yet," said Victoria Aleles, senior scientist at Johnson & Johnson. "Johnson's is setting a new standard for gentle."
The changes have already started to roll out on shelves across North America, with China, India and the rest of the world slated for early 2019.