Ashley Unmacht - “Johnson & Johnson Case Study”

Imagine this: you become a parent to a newborn, whether it be through adoption, surrogate, or natural birth. Your palms are sweaty with excitement. You sigh in relief when you hear her cry fresh out of the womb, and count ten fingers and ten toes. The doctor congratulates you on the new addition to your family. This precious moment is something you will never forget. Your friends and family members are crying with joy. You look down at this tiny human, realizing you’re now in charge of her life. In this very moment, you could be looking at a future president, future scientist, future author, or future inventor. You then realize that it is now your duty to do everything and anything you can to protect her from any harm that would stop them from reaching those endeavors. And then, minutes later, you give that adorable ball of life her first bath and change their first diaper, and continue to assist her in the next several years with her hygiene habits.

Fast forward twenty years and your palms are sweaty once again. Your family and friends are crying, again. You look down at your once tiny human, realizing you were in charge of her life. This, time however, she’s laying in her casket. Your daughter, the pre-med student, passed away from ovarian cancer. And little did you know, the day she arrived in your family was the day you began to slowly suck the minutes off of the potential you once assumed she had, but you had no idea.

Luckily, this is not your reality. However, this could possibly be the reality for many individuals, and this is something that should not be ignored. To assess a company’s successes and sustainability, it can be helpful to implement methods that address what is commonly known as “the triple bottom line”. In other words, how must Johnson & Johnson ensure that they protect their consumers, environment, and profit through these arisen allegations? Furthermore, keeping in mind these three aspects, it is in the best interest of Johnson & Johnson to take the products in question off of the market completely until further research is conducted.

With regards to the risky product implications, it is important to understand the experiences and possible experiences of individuals and their families; this is the consumer aspect of the triple bottom line. Although further research should be done, one could assume some general demographics of Johnson & Johnson consumers. These individuals likely have young children; are pretty brand insistent due to Johnson & Johnson’s reputation as an inexpensive, yet reliable brand; and have busy lives as they balance their family, social, and work lives. Furthermore, a Johnson & Johnson consumer most likely does not take the time to read warning labels, let alone notice them in the first place, on the products they are buying over and over again. Slapping a warning label about cancer causation would be a negligent move on Johnson & Johnson’s part, as it would not stop many individuals from buying the product without knowing the risky implications. Assuming these allegations about ovarian cancer are truly caused by said products, Johnson & Johnson would be putting several individuals at risk, although under technical law, they wouldn’t be liable with a warning label.

While Johnson & Johnson should most definitely stop production of these products for the sake of the consumers, taking the products off of the shelves for said health risks is much easier said than done when it comes to finances. I get it; as a marketing major, my education has taught me to understand that it’s important to evaluate the fact that Johnson & Johnson will likely be immediate significant drops in profit. No business would feel good about this. However, if we are only factoring in products, we must also evaluate what keeping these products on the shelves could do for Johnson & Johnson’s brand as a whole. Once word begins to spread about Johnson & Johnson’s sketchy, risk-filled products that they are choosing to keep on the market, many parents will become extremely skeptical about all of Johnson and Johnson’s products on the line. Johnson & Johnson will have a public relations nightmare, as they will turn from a household name to a profit-hungry monster corporation in which is okay with gaining off of others’ health risks. So, these families will likely begin shopping from a different, perceived safer brand for their family’s hygienic needs. Although this route would not give Johnson & Johnson an immediate profit hit, this will cause an extreme long-term decline in profits and market share, which is something a business wants less than a short-term hit.

Lastly, to sustain good business ethics, Johnson & Johnson must implement a solution to addressing these ovarian cancer concerns; this is the environment aspect of the triple bottom line, as our society values eliminating cancer as a whole. For Johnson & Johnson, some market research may be helpful in addressing this. This may look like taking an active stance in making cancer-research non profit organizations a part of their philanthropy, or making an all natural line of products to show transparency in the make-up of what consumers are buying. These active efforts will help consumers understand that Johnson & Johnson is actually as much as a family company (per their slogan) as they preach. Being proactive about the situation will show their consumers that they are taking these allegations seriously for the well-being of their consumers.

With a triple bottom line action plan in place, Johnson & Johnson should move forward in taking the alleged ovarian cancer-causing products off of the shelves until further research on these products can occur. During public relations scares such as this, it is important to be upfront about the issues that have arisen with a proactive plan in place. With their consumers, finances, and environment in mind, Johnson & Johnson has the ability to continue flourishing as a family company, despite the allegations. And you, the parent of a newborn baby girl, can confidently take care of your bundle of joy’s hygiene while feeling at ease knowing you’re not hurting her path to a prestigious medical school.