As a 130 year-old company, Johnson & Johnson is an American multi-national company ranked in 35th place on the 2020 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue, as well as 26th place on the list of the world’s most admired companies. These credentials mean the company both enjoys and endures a great deal of attention and scrutiny, with its consumer business dominated by a portfolio of household brands that includes Neutrogena, Tylenol, and Listerine. It also includes a pharmaceutical division that is, of course, laser focused on developing a vaccine to help beat Covid-19.
While our focus in this article is to discuss their consumer loyalty programme, it’s important to mention what must be one the brand’s greatest ever challenges, with its iconic baby talc powder linked to an increased risk of cancer. The firm was first found to be negligent in 2013 for failing to advise consumers of the limitations around use of the product, and the brand has now suffered extensive damage with associated lawsuits recently settled at a cost of over $100 million.
Against that backdrop, it’s not surprising to sense a great deal of caution in its FMCG loyalty programme now called the Care Club, so here we explore the consumer value proposition and the approach being taken to increase loyalty to its products by this giant corporation in its home market.
Johnson’s Baby Shampoo is one of the brands for which consumers can earn Care Club rewards
In our view, there are very few FMCG brands that have as yet managed to create compelling a loyalty program, largely because manufacturing companies have no direct relationship with their users or end consumers.
Sold through supermarkets, convenience stores and increasingly online, organisations like Johnson & Johnson have had to rely on mass market above-the-line marketing campaigns such as TV and outdoor advertising in order to build awareness with consumers and create demand. And without direct relationships, they lack the data, insights and ability to communicate with their users – leading to programs such as this “Care Club” which are designed to bridge the gap in much the same way that frequent flier programs were invented to solve the same problem for airlines who historically depended on travel agencies for customers.
The concept rewards customers who buy the many personal health and self-care products from the range of participating brands including frequently purchased un-restricted products such as band-aid or baby care products, as well as restricted products such as over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol, a leading pain relief drug.
Here’s how it works:
- The program is managed on a non-branded website, with Johnson & Johnson only mentioned in the fine print.
- The program is free to join, requires members to receive program communications, and incentivises completion of demographic information such as whether the member has children, their preferred J&J brands, and key areas of interest such as beauty, wellness, philanthropy etc.
- Customers are required to upload receipts for their purchases of participating brands, which can be bought online or in any retail store.
- Participants are also required to print his/her name on the receipt, sign and date it, and and circle all qualifying purchase(s) on the receipt before uploading it. Digital receipts are not permitted.
- Points can also be earned for sharing products on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest with detailed rules around disclosure of the points benefit and restrictions on the wording of content shared.
- Points are also offered for product reviews as well as shares, reading content, watching videos, referring a friend and answering poll/survey questions.
- Reward options include entries to sweepstakes for cash prizes from 50 points, and include gift cards or credit with payment partners such as Amazon.com and Venmo, starting from 1,500 points (requiting ten products bought) to claim $5 credit.
- Rewards are shipped within 6-8 weeks (!) of order.
It’s remarkable that Johnson & Johnson has remained one of the world’s most respected company’s despite the devastating damage and deaths caused by its talc product ingredients, proving how well loved and trusted these individual products have been for over a century for American consumers.
At a time when corporate trust drives true loyalty, it seems highly unusual to hide the brand and not build more transparency in to the design of their loyalty program.
With their unbranded design approach, coupled with the manual claims and tracking process, and the slow delivery of rewards for members, it seems unlikely to me that this program can effectively drive increased purchases or advocacy as loyalty programs are intended to do. Time will tell and we’ll watch with interest to see how this “Care Club” unfolds.
Liquid Barcodes is a leading global loyalty and digital marketing technology company specialising in the convenience store and foodservice industries. Our proprietary cloud-based technology platform allow retailers to create and manage their digital marketing campaigns with a proprietary process we call the “customer connection cycle’ to engage, promote and reward customers activities in real-time across digital and media channels.
How we do it:
We have developed the most advanced loyalty and digital marketing technology platform specifically for convenience store and foodservice retailers globally.
Retailers use our self-service dashboard to create and manage loyalty driven marketing campaigns that increase purchases with their existing customers, as well as effectively target and acquire new customers through partners or paid media channels.
One core component of live loyalty is gamification. We have gamified branding, loyalty and promotions. We believe this approach is essential in order to get customers’ attention and ultimately truly engage them with repeatable actions thereby winning their loyalty.
Check out some of our exciting/proven results here:
Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes and Host of “Let’s Talk Loyalty” Podcast
With over twenty-five years marketing experience, I specialise in loyalty marketing articles and podcasts. In addition to working with Liquid Barcodes, my clients have included Telefonica O2 Priority, Three Mobile, Electric Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and The Entertainer Group (UAE), as well as Avios – the global points currency for some of the world’s top airlines. I am also a former judge for the Loyalty Magazine Awards and proud host of the “Let’s Talk Loyalty” podcast – the industry’s first podcast for loyalty marketing professionals.