By Tracey Goins
- Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder product contributed to $86B in revenue last year
- Nearly 12K women claim Johnson & Johnson’s powder cause ovarian cancer
Despite growing concerns of carcinogenic agents, products giant Johnson & Johnson (JNJ +0.53%) continued to market and sell its baby powder to Black and Hispanic women. J&J segmented its marketing campaign without proper disclosure to the public that its product could potentially cause cancer, according to Reuters. A fixture of J&J’s family friendly image, its baby powder product contributed to $86 billion in revenue last year.
Why This Matters: Johnson & Johnson has been a longtime undisputed leader in talcum powder, a staple among African American households. Accused of aggressive marketing tactics, J&J commonly distributed samples of its iconic baby powder to beauty salons and churches throughout the black community. Baby powder, considered to be a cultural phenomenon, is commonly used for personal hygiene and many plaintiffs maintained they used baby powder in their genital region daily.
Investigations by the publication revealed advertising campaigns sought to focus on geographical areas that were predominantly underdeveloped with higher minority populations. With this subset of consumers, also comes a lack of education and inherent trust in the perception larger companies carry. All of these reasons are why J&J was ordered to pay $4.69 billion in damages.
J&J was ordered to pay $4.69 billion in damages
It was also found that special emphasis was placed on areas that were known for its humid weather. Baby powder mostly consists of talc, a mineral used to keep skin dry. J&J’s baby powder is well documented as having trace elements of carcinogenic minerals. They strategically distributed this product to a lesser sophisticated consumer in a geographical region that warranted high use of the product.
Situational Awareness: Potential dangers with the use of baby powder dates back to the early 1970’s. Although legislators have faced increased scrutiny to pass laws that would give the FDA more regulatory power over cosmetic and personal care companies, self-education is vital to our health and wellness. At $1.2 trillion a year on average, African-Americans have tremendous spending power. Most business know the demographic profile of its consumers, J&J is no exception. With an insurgent of black and minority owned wellness businesses, access to natural products are more attainable than ever.
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