Extreme Makeover Disaster

On those Extreme Makeover shows, it’s fun when the family says, “Wow! You look so terrific, we almost wouldn’t recognize you!” But what if the makeover was SO extreme that the baffled husband said, “… who are you?” And the kids cried, “Where’s our mommy?” That’s exactly what happened to PepsiCo’s Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice products.
Package Comparison Image Provided by bettybl Courtesy of Flickr
After a major package redesign, Tropicana sales dropped a whopping 20% between January 1 and February 22, 2009, according to AdAge.com. To stop the bleeding, PepsiCo, the parent company of Tropicana, trashed the new look and rushed back to the old design. So what went wrong?

1.) PepsiCo underestimated the value of package recognition.

Consumers knew Tropicana by its look. But when the re–branded packaging was put next to other orange juice brands (Minute Maid, Dole, etc.) nothing said to the consumer, “Hey! It’s me, your old friend Tropicana!” The key design elements that made Tropicana packaging iconic to loyal customers were either muted or missing. Consumers no longer recognized their favorite drink. They assumed it was gone and simply grabbed another brand.

2.) The redesign was too much too fast!

It’s often best to ease into a new logo or package design gradually. But Tropicana dove head first. The packaging changed so suddenly and radically that loyal customers looked right past it.

3.) The packaging was too generic.

Although the new packaging was attractive on the design board, it looked so bland on the shelf that it simply blended into the background. Loyal customers couldn’t distinguish between their favorite brand and generic orange juice brands.

4.) The new packaging made it hard to distinguish between varieties.

Whether you were looking for Tropicana’s No Pulp or Calcium variety, all the new packaging looked the same! Tropicana’s previous packaging had used different colors to successfully differentiate each variety. Even customers who figured out what Tropicana looked like now couldn’t find the taste they wanted.

On February 23, after losing millions of dollars in sales, PepsiCo announced they were ditching their new look and reverting to the previous package design. Clearly, they learned a valuable lesson or two. What would you have done differently if you were PepsiCo?

  • http://www.jhpadv.com/ Alissa Sheley

    The brands that I’ve followed that have had successful re-branding did it in baby steps, exactly opposite of what Tropicana did as you mentioned in point number 2. Instead of diving head first, they started by adding a notice to their existing packing or website giving customers a head’s up.

    Discover Card did a fantastic job of this last time they updated the look of their website. They let their loyal customers know they were working on a new look, and then a few weeks later, let people take a look and interact. They also followed up with email announcement and a time line for the change so you didn’t just show up on their website one day and think “where the heck am I?”

    The other thing Discover Card did that I really enjoyed, was to place a feedback widget on each page. This allowed me as a customer to provide feedback about the site, and feel like my opinions and experience were important.

    Maybe next time Tropicana ventures into a re-brand they’ll consider taking some of the transition easing steps that Discover Card did.

  • http://www.jhpadv.com Alissa Sheley

    The brands that I’ve followed that have had successful re-branding did it in baby steps, exactly opposite of what Tropicana did as you mentioned in point number 2. Instead of diving head first, they started by adding a notice to their existing packing or website giving customers a head’s up.

    Discover Card did a fantastic job of this last time they updated the look of their website. They let their loyal customers know they were working on a new look, and then a few weeks later, let people take a look and interact. They also followed up with email announcement and a time line for the change so you didn’t just show up on their website one day and think “where the heck am I?”

    The other thing Discover Card did that I really enjoyed, was to place a feedback widget on each page. This allowed me as a customer to provide feedback about the site, and feel like my opinions and experience were important.

    Maybe next time Tropicana ventures into a re-brand they’ll consider taking some of the transition easing steps that Discover Card did.