Tropicana: ‘back to the future’ transition completed. Simple lesson: test!

Find the differences
Find the differences

I remember the day when my wife came home from shopping in the local supermarket complaining that she had a hard time finding our favorite Tropicana juice. “They have changed the packaging and I cannot find anything anymore! Almost took the wrong one!”. She was not complaining for a wrong reason. Take a look at the two Tropicana juices on the left. Yes: they are actually different but it is really difficult to spot: ‘high pulp’ and ‘some pulp’ in a different color, different caps and some other small differences. Surely this might work when you have just two packs next to each other but it gets totally different when you see a whole shelf full of similar looking packs! Other consumers realized this too and after less than 2 months and a 20% drop in sales the new pack was replaced by the old one!

Today I noticed that in the supermarket all the ‘new’ packs are finally gone and replaced with the good looking, differentiating ‘old’ packs with the new redesigned cap. Below you see an image of the ‘new’ pack in supermarket context and the ‘old’ pack. Surely the old pack helps consumers to navigate much much better!

New and old
New and old
Old and new
Old and new

But it was not navigation what was the issue. Reading the original pepsi message and press coverage( 1 and 2) it was about “It’s time to remind consumers that Tropicana Pure Premium is pure, natural and squeezed from fresh oranges,”. “In order to reinforce this message, we focused on the health benefits of the juice but showed it in a more emotional way than ever before in this category. We want to remind consumers how it should feel to drink this juice every morning.”

This is a great objective but hard to imagine that the execution should result in very blend and non differentiating design within the Tropicana range! It was so blend that even consumers were not able to navigate in the store to find their favorite juice! In fact: over the last 3 months I have had at least 2 times that I took accidently the wrong juice home! Something that never happened with the ‘old’ sales pack! Why? The various colors that would help me to navigate (orange=no pulp, green=some pulp) were difficult to find as the overall pack looked so much the same.

Then on the objective to remind consumers that Tropicana is pure, natural and squeezed from fresh oranges. Why change from the fresh oranges with the straw to difficult to see orange juice in a glass? Is it not better for consumers to know that the oranges used to create Tropicana were the best on the planet? Showing them on the sales pack with a straw (so fresh you can drink from them!) did a perfect job!

So here are the lessons I took from this disaster:

  1. Identity which elements in your visual identity drive consumers to purchase your product. In case of Tropicana it could have been the image of the fresh looking orange and the straw that strengthens the feeling of freshness even more.
  2. Identity which elements in your visual identity help consumers to navigate in your portfolio. In case of Tropicana it is for sure the use of colors for the different variants of juice.
  3. Identity which visual elements consumers feel belong to your brand. In this case: the happy font, the straw, the fresh orange.
  4. Any changes you make to #1-#3 you test in a retail environment with consumers who are in hurry to grab their favorite product and do not have time to admire individual design details.

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