Johnson & Johnson: It’s Time To Break Out Of Mobile Jail

Johnson&JohnsonThere’s a perception that large brands move too slowly to keep pace with consumers, especially as time spent on mobile continues its climb.

But that’s not the case at Johnson & Johnson and it doesn’t have to be the case at other brands either, said Gail Horwood, J&J’s VP of worldwide digital strategy, speaking Tuesday at the Mobile Marketing Association’s Mobile Marketing Leadership Forum in New York City.

“One of the big misconceptions about big companies like ours is that we’re not mobile-first or we’re not doing innovative things in mobile,” Horwood said. “But I would say we do a lot of interesting things.”

Johnson & Johnson takes advantage trigger-based advertising, for example, said Horwood. And the brand uses a variety of different data signals – weather, UV, pollen, shopping-related data, location – to inform its campaigns.

But there’s always more to do, Horwood said.

“The opportunity is to integrate this into programmatic, into our creative executions and really blow this out further,” she said. “When you think about the state of what we can measure in mobile and what we do measure, there is a huge gap.”

And despite a lot of progress around implementation, there’s also still a gap between how a lot of marketers tend to think about mobile – often in terms of tactics, media plans and flights – and how consumers experience it as a ubiquitous part of their daily lives.

“We need to get away from the mentality that mobile is a channel [even though] it’s easy to think about mobile that way,” Horwood said. “If we’re only thinking about the mobile landscape this way, we’re missing something. We’re in mobile jail, still thinking about [mobile] as a subset of digital.”

It’s a sentiment reflected in GroupM agency Essence’s recent move to dissolve its mobile team in favor of a new practice comprised of mobile experts and investment people focused on partnerships and tech innovation.

Johnson & Johnson has spent the last year using social listening tools and analytics to develop journey maps and figure out what sort of mobile products make the most sense for its customer base.

“Media is a great starting point, but context, content and relevance … indicate that you’ve got to understand that journey at a new level of specificity,” Horwood said.

One of the fruits of those efforts is Johnson’s Bedtime Baby Sleep app, which the brand developed based on the insights it gathered as part of its journey mapping project to meet what it found to be a universal need facing parents, and moms in particular: getting their kids to go to sleep.

The app, which Horwood said is one of the brand’s most successful, includes lullabies and tips on how to establish a successful sleep routine, like a warm bath and a soothing massage – which is where J&J baby care products like baby oil and baby bath formula come in.

Johnson & Johnson is in the process of scaling the Baby Sleep app globally – but it’s also scaling back in general.

It’s tempting to create an app just to have one. J&J has more than 50 apps across the globe.

“One of the reasons we have so many apps is because having app has become synonymous with being in mobile, but that’s not necessarily the case,” said Horwood.

J&J is in the process of evaluating its app offerings and deciding which ones deserve attention and which ones deserve to be retired. It’s also working to ensure that each of its brands has at least a basic mobile presence, regardless of whether an app is warranted.

“We really started to prune the catalog,” said Horwood. “Sometimes apps sit out there unloved and unused – we’re sunsetting those.”

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1 Comment

  1. Gail Horwood has her finger on the pulse. We have definitely passed from an app install frenzy into app indigestion.

    Supporting this is an interesting article in emarketer about app usage:

    The answer is robust web apps with traffic driven by content, social, e-mail buy-ins, and even direct mail, with some pretty cool image recognition technology pointing to URLs the way QR codes do.

    App installs are needs driven, what the article characterizes as “organic.”