Johnson’s Baby Relaunch: What Can We Expect?

May 18, 2018
Johnson's Baby relaunch. What can we expect from the formulations?

Johnson & Johnson are remaining somewhat tight-lipped about their plans to unveil a relaunch of their iconic Johnson’s baby skincare range.

What is known: the formulations’ overhaul comes after a steep decline in sales (20 percent since 2011) and a major lawsuit that left the multinational pharmaceutical, medical devices and consumer packaged goods company $72 million out of pocket.

Still, Johnson & Johnson remain a market leader, raking in a cool $1.9 billion last year.

The 125-year-old company admits they decided to rethink their baby line to get “more in step with millennial mums” who are more savvy than their own parents when it comes to reading and understanding ingredient labels.

It is a move that deserves to be celebrated, considering the brand’s global reach, but how wholeheartedly will depend entirely on what’s on the label.

A Naturally-Derived Johnson’s Baby

According to the international Johnson & Johnson website, the brand is specifically relaunching its baby washes, shampoos, lotions and creams to be made with more “naturally derived” ingredients. They also plan to introduce a “new, cutting-edge” CottonTouch™ newborn line.

(Editor’s note: Naturally-derived as a term itself can lead to confusion, as it does not necessarily mean all ingredients are deemed natural when listed as the final ingredient on the label. However, when it comes to Johnson & Johnson’s new formulations, this can only be looked at once they are released to the public.)

Mum of one and one-on-the-way, Jessica Blencowe, says she made a conscious decision to stop using the brand’s traditional baby products after learning about ingredient safety from natural beauty advocate, educator and mum of supermodel Miranda Kerr, Therese Kerr.

“Things as close to nature that aren’t harsh on my children’s skin, or minimise the toxic load, are only used for us now because I know that they work just as well—but with the added health benefits rather than damage like synthetic toxicates and toxins,” Jessica says.

Mum Malina Yeager of Saint Hil Organics, agrees: “Some of their (current) products are made with formaldehyde donors, which is one reason I wouldn’t use them (editor’s note: The J&J Baby range does not include these). (They) are also made with artificial fragrances.”

Johnson & Johnson fans—and foes—will need to wait until August to see the new look and formulations on-shelf.

It is also unknown as to whether Johnson & Johnson will choose to—or be able to—certify the relaunched Johnson’s Baby range with Made Safe, a non-profit organisation, which provides America’s first comprehensive human health-focused certification for non-toxic products across store aisles, from baby to personal care to household and beyond.

To do so, would be another positive step for the personal product conglomerate, giving consumers a second reason—alongside the reformulations—to give the company a vote of confidence.

Made Safe says their mission is to change the way products are made and to ultimately eliminate the use of toxic chemicals altogether.

“We make it easy for people to find and buy products made without known toxic chemicals, give companies a road map for making safe products, and make it easy for retailers to select products that aren’t known to cause harm,” the certifying body explains on their website.

This relaunch is, in its most simple form, a turning point for Johnson & Johnson; a chance for the company to regain consumer trust and prove they’re not greenwashing with “natural” and “authentic” claims.

It is a move that deserves to be celebrated, considering the brand’s global reach, but how wholeheartedly will depend entirely on what’s on the label.

“We teamed up with moms from around the world to help us co-create the updated line of products to be simpler, 100% gentle and purposeful,” says Sandrine Alvarado, Senior Director, Global Baby R&D, Johnson & Johnson Consumer.

As part of the relaunch, Johnson & Johnson says new Johnson’s Baby labelling will include an age/stage icon to help parents select products for their babies. The packaging, which has remained constant since 1973, is also getting a make-over. No word as to whether these will be eco-friendly.

“The new bottles have been modeled after the No More Tears® teardrop shape that parents recognise as the unmistakable landmark of Johnson’s gentleness,” Alvarado says.

The Australasian Johnson’s Baby Relaunch

In Australia and New Zealand, the company is also keeping mum about Johnson’s Baby ingredients, besides what has already been officially released. I spoke with Kirsten Lodge, Johnson & Johnson Senior Manager, Communications and Public Affairs (Australia), who said she is excited about the new direction. A launch of the relaunch has been planned for Australasia, but it won’t happen for another couple of months.

“We can confirm that we will be relaunching JOHNSON’s in Australia and New Zealand, and will provide more information as soon as it becomes available.”

For now, it’s a waiting game, but also heartening to see the brand taking positive moves towards safer formulations.

I am interviewing the brand in-depth, with the post appearing on Eco Beauty Editor to time with the upcoming relaunch. Be sure to follow me on Facebook, or sign up for the newsletter, for updates.

CNBC have also released an interview with Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky (watch below).

It is also important to mention that Johnson & Johnson do, in some circumstances, still test on animals

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