J&J hands over germ protection

Gojo Industries this past fall reacquired its Purell hand-sanitizer brand from Johnson & Johnson and is currently putting the pieces in place to reassume a category leadership role for waterless hand washing.


The endeavor is not without its challenges. Today, hand sanitizers are a highly commoditized category. And though sanitizers certainly benefited from increased awareness associated with last year’s H1N1 pandemic, that awareness didn’t translate into sales; the $100-million-plus category is down 35.4% in 2010, according to SymphonyIRI Group data. 


And retailers currently are holding an overabundance of inventory, all of which is expected to soon flood the clearance racks in the dollar store channel as the sanitizers move closer to their expiration dates. 


“It’s really about driving household penetration through education and innovation,” said Tim Cleary, who joined Purell Consumer 
as VP sales this past fall. “There’s great brand-name recognition. Aided is 82%; unaided is 58%,” Cleary said. “But household penetration is only 29%. You’ve got this huge gap there.”


Cleary is looking toward opportunities across the 2011-2012 cough-cold season now and plans to relaunch the brand with new packaging and line extensions in 2012.