Can McNeil Win Business Back From Generics?

As a marketer and someone who is fiercely loyal to many Johnson & Johnson products this last recall really worries me. I’m not worried that my children will get sick from their medicine but I am worried that the brand will never regain the trust of parents who are weary of scouring their medicine cabinets every time there is a news release. For parents, these recalls are stressful on an emotional level (could my child get sick?) and irritating on a more rational level (checking all of your products, getting a refund, replacing the product…). In this instance the FDA even told consumers to buy and give their children generic versions of Motrin, Tylenol and Zyrtec. For the FDA to boldly make that recommendation name brand loyalists may be convinced to make the switch. Once parents save a few bucks a bottle and see that the products work just as well what would motivate them to return to the name brand?

Over the last 2 years I’ve interviewed many women who have been experimenting with store brand foods because they need to cut corners on their household budgets. “Who needs brand name flour?” “I put the cheese into Tupperware and then they don’t know it is ShopRite brand.” They are getting more and more comfortable with their decisions and stores are getting better and better at providing private label products that don’t feel like a consolation prize (hello Archer Farms or Up and Up). In this environment McNeil has to really think about what else the name brand produuct offers to consumers. A golden halo of “we know babies” is not enough anymore.

What would be a compelling reason to return to name brands?

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A Refund That Puts A Recall On Parents’ Downtime

The Walt Disney Company is now offering a full refund on all the Baby Einstein videos that didn’t increase infant intellect, as reported by Tamar Lewin in the New York Times (10/23/09).

We know that too much TV for little ones is not healthy; the American Academy of Pediatrics has told us so. Yet for years, Baby Einstein, with their highly successful and profitable DVDs, has been giving parents permission to use the television as a “developmental tool” rather than as an electronic babysitter.

Did parents believe these videos were going to help their child get into the right preschool? I doubt it. But the company did hit upon a real Whole Truth, that parents wanted to feel less guilty about using the television as a way to steal a few moments away where they didn’t have to be solely responsible for their child’s development.

Even when the Disney Company eliminated the words “educational” from their marketing materials in 2006, the implications were still apparent and embraced by parents. (Note that these videos are still listed as Top Picks at Babies R Us.)

So, does this admission via a full refund by Disney leave parents feeling gypped beyond the $15.99?

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April 13, 2024
by Mary Lou Quinlan

A look at an early production of WORK


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The God Box Goes Global!

“The God Box” has grown to include an app, audio book, philanthropic venture and solo show performed by Mary Lou across the US. Now The God Box Project goes global to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
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