Since announcing its reformulation, Johnson & Johnson has come up in many of my pieces. The iconic brand agreeing to change its practices, reformulate to remove potentially dangerous chemicals, did garner a good deal of criticism. But, it’s also an important step that could have positive implications for the natural personal care industry when it comes to sourcing sustainable ingredients more affordably.
I think it was one catalyst for the great growth and increased awareness around natural beauty—the brands that have always been doing it right—bringing us into a time that leaves the door open for a brand to emerge as the J&J of naturals.
Enter Seventh Generation
Perhaps the most well-known cleaning company in the natural industry, over the past couple of years, Seventh Generation has started to really focus on diversifying its product portfolio by—very smartly—entering the kids personal care space and using J&J’s announcement to gain a competitive advantage (yes it was reformulating, but with this came a disconcerting lag time for the, er, safe? products to hit shelves).
Using this launch as the foundation for a more expansive line of personal care, Seventh Gen then introduced some basic adult body care products, including lotion and body wash and just last month it further expanded with facial skin care oils using hot ingredients such as argan, tamanu and baobab oils, targeted at everything from antiaging to soothing to hydrating. (This product made my recent list of top new natural beauty products to stock).
One thing I love about the company is its behind the scenes manufacturing practices and innovations, which have included significant advancements in green chemistry to produce more sustainable surfactants and other ingredients used in abundance in the natural and organic personal care space. I also appreciate that the company is maintaining the Seventh Generation brand for its personal care products, which I think will absolutely pay off. The brand awareness is already in place, so why mess with a good thing and start from scratch?
But its path to beauty success won't necesarily be squeaky clean unless it pays close attention to a couple of areas. In the company's next stages, I hope it will show more beauty innovation (I’d like to see it bring some new ingredients to the market and invest in some science). And explore ways to stay connected with independent retailers as it moves more and more into mass. With the growth that comes with being the “Johnson & Johnson of naturals,” do natural retailers suffer? In my previous blog post about the brand and its potential, one reader wrote:
7th Gen diapers retail at $11.99 at many big chains and online. That's the same price I pay wholesale. In seven generations, there won't be any independent stores left with pricing policies like 7 Gen's.
I hope there’s a solution—and I look forward to seeing the next generation of Seventh Generation.