Tropicana Saga

Exhibit 14.2   Tropicana debacle — new packaging (right) led to a 20% slump in sales.

One of the great shortcomings of marketers is the tendency to discard something of great value for the wrong reasons. It happens all the time, yet some tales are more noteworthy than others.

In January of 2009, PepsiCo revamped the packaging of Tropicana. The vivid and memorable orange-with-straw-poking-out graphic was discarded. It was replaced with the glass of juice version shown in Exhibit 14.2.

The outcome was far from what PepsiCo had hoped for. According to IRI’s Infoscan, sales of the Tropicana Pure Premium plummeted 20% from Jan 1 and Feb 22. And on Feb 23, the company announced that they would bring back the old packaging.

Undoubtedly talented marketers and designers devoted time and attention to this $35 million campaign. Yet, given the magnitude of the campaign’s negative impact, consumer research should have anticipated the high level of dissonance that occurred. Indeed, if decisions were guided by research and analytics, PepsiCo might not have lost an estimated over hundred million dollars in sales.

While reminiscent of the New Coke launch, the Tropicana debacle is distinct in that it centred mainly on packaging. The saga highlights the pivotal role that packaging plays in driving sales and building brand equity. It also underscores the importance of testing and optimizing packaging and understanding how it works.

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