Out With The Old…Or Not: Tropicana

Tropicana: Old vs. New Package Design

Ever heard of the expression out with the old and in with the new? Or better yet have you ever gone to the grocery store and spent countless minutes searching for your have brand of orange because you didn’t recognize it?

Well, that’s usually because the company has opted to do a package revitalization. Unfortunately, while a brand can execute a brilliant repackaging that still doesn’t guarantee a satisfactory end result. In fact, according to research conducted by Perception Research Services, “10% of package redesigns spike sales and 20% spur declines” (Mininni, 2009).

For today’s blog I’ll be looking into Tropicana’s 2009 packaging as a case study, of sorts, for package revitalization gone wrong.


Why the Sudden Change?

First, let’s consider the why behind this.

But to be honest, no one really knows. So I’m not going to pretend to know folks. However, I perused around the internet and found some “theories”:

Theory 1: Tropicana was going through something akin to a “mid-life crisis” or identity crisis. (Burn’s Workspace)

Theory 2: Due to the troubling economy Tropicana wanted to appear more affordable. So they made themselves look like a generic store brand (Briar, 2009).

Theory 3: Tropicana wanted to draw attention to themselves (Briar, 2009).

Tropicana’s president, Neil Campbell, did comment on the redesign though: “It was about refreshing and modernizing. The entire orange juice category has been in decline for some time. We wanted to create an emotional attachment by ‘heroing’ the juice and trumpeting the natural fruit goodness” (Brandweek, 2009).

Brandweek also mentioned that Tropicana wanted to highlight the fact that its orange juice is “100% real orange juice” and not filled with sugar (2009).


Who Did It?

The minds behind the redesign of Tropicana was the Arnell Group. They were instructed to use “Obama-esque design language that was clear, simple and profound” (Brandweek, 2009). On the team were 30 people, including Mr.Arnell himself, and it took them 5 months to complete the redesign.


Before and After

Tropicana's Old and New Package Designs

Structurally, they are still the same. The differences lie in the aesthetics.

What stayed the same was the crisp, clean feeling by implementing lots of white space. Both designs still use the primary colors green and orange (however the newer one is more pastel) as well. The tagline and brand name are also the same.

Now for the differences.

Tropicana wanted a modern feel. So they got rid of the much loved icon of the orange and straw.They wanted to highlight that their juice is 100% orange and that is now stated loud and clear on it’s front view of the redesign.

The cap is also changed, but I like this new aspect. It’s now in the shape of a half-orange. You see, Tropicana wanted a physical mnemonic (or memory aid) for the brand so they made the cap resemble the color and texture of a ripe orange. (Brandweek, 2009).  Plus, Tropicana wanted to emphasize the point that their orange is fresh squeezed – so as you screw the cap off it’s like you’re squeezing an orange. Cool, huh?


What Went Wrong???

Tropicana’s redesign was what many would call, a failure. A bust. A waste a money.

Tropicana pulled pack the redesign of the orange juice within weeks because there was just so much backlash. Loyal customers were angry at this new design by the Arnell Agency. One person even tweeted the following (Levins, 2009): “The original packaging was brilliant – they convinced us there was an orange inside the carton. Now we learn. It’s just juice”.

To make matters worse, sales went down. From Jan.1 to Feb 22, unit sales dropped 20 percent and dollar sales went down 19 percent, or roughly $33 million (Sunrise Packaging, 2009). Even worse was that the sales of competitors like Minute Maid increased.

Bottom line, the change was for worse. Even though the redesign wasn’t awful in itself it disturbed brand loyal customers not to see the familiar design of their precious old Tropicana. “The new packaging totally disregarded the visual brand assets that distinguished Tropicana and made it a category leader, trading them for a generic, minimalistic, trendy package design. From a functional standpoint, the segmentation system was diminished, making it harder for consumers to find their favorite variety” (Mininini, 2009).Ultimately, this drove many customers away and into the waiting arms of Florida’s Natural and Minute Maid. This happening is similar to when Coke reformulated their drink. Even though people liked the taste better they were angry that Coca-Cola dared to change itself. So I guess like that saying goes, “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken.”




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