For more than 100 years, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has dominated the baby products market. From baby powder to baby shampoo, J&J has always offered all the products parents need for their newborn children. Although most millennials were brought up with these products, as they become parents themselves, they’re turning away from the brand in favor of more trustworthy alternatives.
It’s no wonder that consumers are starting to mistrust J&J. After all, the company is plagued with lawsuits, and not just from its consumer products division. The most notable of these lawsuits is the talcum powder litigation. Despite decades of solid research and internal documents from the company discussing the dangers of talcum powder, J&J continues to defend the safety of its baby powder.
Three lawsuits have already gone to trial and resulted in wins for the plaintiffs, who alleged that J&J knew the talc in its baby powder products could greatly increase women’s risk of developing ovarian cancer and hid these risks from consumers. The trials really put the spotlight in J&J’s gross negligence, and millennial parents aren’t pleased.
In response to the onslaught of talcum powder lawsuits, the Vice President of Research and Development at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., Tara Glasgow, released a statement discrediting more than 20 epidemiological studies linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer. To further soothe concerns that its products are safe, Ms. Glasgow reminds consumers that its baby powder has been asbestos-free and the company “confirmed this with regular testing.”
But talcum powder and asbestos aren’t the only carcinogens that have been used in J&J’s baby powder. It wasn’t until last year that J&J finally completed the removal of formaldehyde from its baby products. The decision to remove formaldehyde wasn’t made because the company believes it poses a risk to consumers, but rather to “provide confidence and peace of mind to our customers.”
J&J’s transgressions have thoroughly scared some parents who are now turning to premium or all natural baby products. J&J’s recently released second quarter earnings report showed the company experienced growth, but that its consumer products division remains in a near decade-long slump.
While J&J plans on rebranding to appeal to younger parents, it appears the damage might already be done. Parents aren’t just looking for products that don’t contain carcinogens, they want products with without chemicals that could irritate a baby’s skin like parabens and sulfates. For millennial parents, J&J just doesn’t make the cut.