Social media has replaced TV advertising at core of Johnson & Johnson marketing strategy, says worldwide chair Sandra Peterson

Health and pharmaceutical brand Johnson & Johnson has “fundamentally changed” its approach to marketing to incorporate social at the heart, according to group worldwide chairman Sandra Peterson, and agencies must keep up with pace of change.

Speaker: Sandra Peterson

Speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women event in London, Peterson discussed the radical changes big data and analytics have brought not just to marketing but product development, and said new digital capabilities had forced a radical change in thinking across the board.

“It’s not just about a new generation of customers, where it’s true the way they interact with brands and products is radically different,” she said. “We go where they are; I talk about consumers as being on the go now, they don’t go to stores anymore, so it’s about how we become relevant to them online.

“We fundamentally changed out approach to marketing to put social at the core. Yes, we still do TV advertising, but everything we do now has to be social. One of the critical things in making the shift has been to start the creative process with a big idea, not a TV advertisement. It sounds obvious but believe it or not it takes years to get people to change their habits and behaviours.”

She added: “Getting our agencies to change their models and how they work with us is also very important to make that happen.”

Peterson told the audience that social and big data had become a significant part of Johnson & Johnson’s business not just in terms of marketing existing products, but in understanding health ailments and being able to develop products in ways they couldn’t before.

“When we develop pharmaceutical products we go through a rigorous process of product trial development and one the products are out on the market we obviously monitor those products on the market,” she said.

“With the advent of social media we get much broader, deeper data and we can find out more about how people are using our pharmaceutical products in a different way from the past, and it’s useful for us to have that unstructured data.”

Peterson added that the company is examining whether moving forward with the brand should involve branding all products, services and apps with the Johnson & Johnson name or whether stand alone brands should be left as such.

“We don’t have the answer to that question fully developed,” she said.

Johnson & Johnson’s business covers products in pharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostics and consumer products.

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