CANNES: Johnson’s Baby, the baby products brand owned by Johnson & Johnson, is discarding certain aspects of its history to meet the requirements of modern parents, according to its chief marketing officer.

Speaking at Cannes, Alison Lewis, CMO for Johnson’s Consumer, related how the past decade has seen increased scrutiny by activists – and subsequently parents – of the ingredients of baby products, resulting in the removal of potentially harmful chemicals.

But she recognised that the company had struggled to move quickly enough to address this issue. “It didn’t really matter that science was on our side,” she said.

Part of the problem was the brand’s legacy which meant it wasn’t open to new ways of looking at the category – a simple example being its continued associations of certain colours with certain products – even as parents were looking for simplification and naturalness.

New thinking was needed and Johnson’s had to shake up its decision structures. “If we were a startup, what would we do?” asked Lewis.

A new strategy put caregivers at the centre, not only as a target audience, but also as the element of the company that could overlap with the outside world: many Johnson employees are parents too, and they also want to give their children the very best.

The strategy of “choosing gentle”, said Lewis, “meant always thinking like a parent first.”

So transparency about the product came front and centre. For the first time, Johnson revealed the makeup of its fragrances, an impossibility under the old order when this was considered a trade secret. “In an age of transparency, you can’t have any secrets.”

Being transparent was a fundamental link between what was inside the bottle and what the brand aimed to be. “We only used ingredients in order to serve a purpose” – any unnecessary dyes or chemicals for scent or colour were removed.

The company went out and spoke to over 26,000 consumers, asking as much about what they liked as about what they didn’t like, taking the results on board and opening up.

As an example of this deep qualitative research, the company began to spot a pattern of parents who did not like to let go of their babies when bathing them, which then informed product development. It soon brought out a bottle that allowed parents to use the product with just one hand.

In six weeks’ time, the brand aims to go to the public with a rebrand, based on a set of products and new ideas that put the customer ahead of the brand’s own sacred cows.

“We feel like we have momentum” for the relaunch in August, Lewis said.

Sourced from WARC