Johnson & Johnson’s Sales Slide 11% During the Pandemic

Declines in medical devices and beauty products led the way

johnson & johnson logo on a phone screen
J&J's pharmaceutical unit proved resilient even during the pandemic. Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson’s worldwide year-over-year sales declined 10.8% in the second quarter of 2020, as fewer consumers had elective surgery or opted to buy beauty products during the pandemic.

The company’s medical device segment dropped 33.9% to $4.3 billion, while its consumer health division, which includes skin care brands Neutrogena and Aveeno, fell 7% to $3.3 billion. The New Jersey-based healthcare products manufacturer noted, however, that sales of Tylenol and Listerine mouthwash were strong, helping to mitigate the overall loss.

J&J’s pharmaceutical business—its largest unit—generated $10.8 billion, a 2.1% increase.

“Our second quarter results reflect the impact of Covid-19 and the enduring strength of our pharmaceutical business, where we saw continued growth even in this environment,” said CEO Alex Gorsky in a statement.

The beauty category has tumbled across brands during the pandemic, hindered by store closures and more consumers staying home under quarantine. Industry leaders Estée Lauder and L’Oréal have both reported sales declines since the outbreak of Covid-19.

J&J is one of many organizations working on a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, which the company intends to provide on a not-for-profit basis. It expects to begin human clinical trials later this month.

“We know the need is urgent, and every day we commit to doing our part to find a solution for the global good,” Gorsky said.

In April, J&J began chronicling its search for a vaccine in a weekly web series hosted by journalist and CNN anchor Lisa Ling. Titled The Road to a Vaccine, the show features interviews with health experts and J&J scientists.

Following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May and subsequent protests, J&J’s century-old Band-Aid brand began producing a range of skin-tone bandages for Black and brown people. The company also pledged $10 million to fight racial injustice in America over the next three years.

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@hiebertpaul Paul Hiebert is a CPG reporter at Adweek, where he focuses on data-driven stories that help illustrate changes in consumer behavior and sentiment.