February 26, 2009

Q: What's More Worrying Than The Economy?

A: Orange Juice Packaging.

Check this out:

The PepsiCo Americas Beverages division of PepsiCo is bowing to public demand and scrapping the changes made to a flagship product, Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice. Redesigned packaging that was introduced in early January is being discontinued, executives plan to announce on Monday, and the previous version will be brought back in the next month.

Okay, I understand they feel they made a mistake and they're going to go back to the old packaging. And I agree that the new packaging seemed a bit generic. But this is what explodes my brain:

The about-face comes after consumers complained about the makeover in letters, e-mail messages and telephone calls and clamored for a return of the original look. [...]

Others described the redesign as making it more difficult to distinguish among the varieties of Tropicana or differentiate Tropicana from other orange juices.

A couple of points.

First, really? This is what is on people's minds lately? Not that they might lose their job? Not even that some of their favorite goods and services might go away if companies have to shut their doors? ORANGE JUICE PACKAGING? Motivated them to write letters and e-mails and (dear lord) pick up the phone? One wonders if they contacted their local congresspeople over this matter.

Second, if you can't find your brand of orange juice with the name plainly printed on the carton, you might not be smart enough to drink orange juice.

The story also mentions the role of social media in helping companies find out quickly when they've made a huge mistake:

"Twitter is the ultimate focus group," Mr. Shankman said. "I can post something and in a minute get feedback from 700 people around the world, giving me their real opinions."

So, we're getting the old Tropicana cartons back. I think you'll all agree that this is social change resulting from effective use of social media -- the technological utopia has finally arrived.

Posted by James at February 26, 2009 9:49 AM
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I think what's going on here is that a) some people who are out of work may have difficulty filling their "free" time, b) getting stressed out over an orange juice box takes their mind off of the sheer terror of being unemployed, and c) bullying the orange juice people makes them feel less helpless.

I liked the clean design of the new packaging better. I'm going to launch a counterprotest and make them change it back. Yeah! Nobody messes with me and gets away with it!!

Posted by: Julie at February 26, 2009 10:54 AM

(Except for the job market and the economy.)

Posted by: Julie at February 26, 2009 10:55 AM

I agree with the design fans who preferred the old packaging but like you I found it silly that some people claimed they kept choosing the wrong type of orange juice. It's not important enough for me to care either way.

I wonder if there's a danger in responding to customer feedback too quickly. Will this aborted carton design be remembered as Tropicana's version of New Coke or Nicki & Paulo?

Posted by: Mike at February 26, 2009 10:56 AM

You go, Julie!

I didn't love the new design, but as long as the orange juice is good, I buy it. New Coke supplanted old Coke, so it is a bit more understandable why people went ballistic over that change.

That said, I do take a certain comfort that people can get worked up about something. But does it have to be orange juice packaging?

I would be interested to know if anyone is considering the consequences of Mike's question: whether there is a danger of too short turnaround in responding too quickly to a minority of consumers.

Posted by: James at February 26, 2009 11:21 AM

Too similar to my pet peeve - people get all frantic and obsess about some cute child abducted or missing in some far-away part of the country but don't know a thing about what's happening to children in their own communities.

I noticed the packaging changed. I didn't like the change. I didn't bother to do anything about it though, it's so low-priority that it never even became a to-do on my list.

Posted by: mjfrombuffalo at February 26, 2009 11:54 AM

You know, a few weeks ago we went to the grocery store and commented, "Oh! The Tropicana carton has changed. Make sure we get the right kind." (No Pulp cuz it clogs the toddler's sippy cup.)

10 seconds later the issue was solved.

People. Are. Idiots.

Posted by: Bull at February 26, 2009 12:40 PM

Don't you see? This could be a rallying point for Conservatives everywhere! They wanted to make a new carton, but we held our ground. We said, "That's not change we can believe in!" and they listened.

Posted by: briwei at February 26, 2009 1:06 PM

Ok, I hate it when a company changes packaging. I really do. I know what I'm looking for when I shop, and when the packaging changes, I think the store has discontinued it.

That having been said, I can't imagine contacting the company to complain about it--unless the new package featured, oh, I don't know, animal torture or porn.

I think Julie may be on to something. People have lost jobs, jobs at which they worked ridiculous numbers of hours a week, which left them with no time to do other things like develop hobbies. Now that they're out of work, they don't know what in the hell to do with themselves. We've just seen one possible result.

My, my, it's going to be a looooong recession.

Posted by: Patti M. at February 26, 2009 6:56 PM

I do think it's that complaining about orange juice packaging is something manageable. I can't fix the economy, but by golly I can get my orange juice packaging back.

And I hate it when companies change packaging, too. For example, my contact lens solution. Okay, I don't wear them any more. But when I did, there was only one kind of solution that worked for me, and there were two companies that sold it, but they also sold other kinds... anyway, it was tricky to get the right solution. I relied on the box. For a while it was recalled or for some reason impossible to get, which made the whole thing more stressful. Then they went and changed the packaging... now when I'm in a store I want to buy my stuff and get out! Now I have to go home and write down all of the info on the box to make sure I'm getting the right solution, because I don't recognize the package any more. Maybe I'm stupid! But why change it??

And as far as "getting the right kind," there's a woman's product and a particular company that makes that product, and they have many varieties and they keep changing the packaging. That's really frustrating. Once I've found the one I want, I don't want to have to try this thing all over again because you've decided to change the whole "system" (once it was symbols, so just "find your symbol", and then they changed it!). I think companies change packaging so you'll accidentally buy the wrong thing. I really think they do.

Posted by: Maggie at February 26, 2009 7:10 PM

Yes, I agree with you on the "sanitary products" packaging. When I used to buy these things (thaks to Lybrell, no longer), I remember bringing an empty package with me to be sure I would get the right thing!

I understand the reason why companies change packaging. "Refreshing the brand," as it is called, helps to give new life to something that folks may not notice because they've become used to it. When a customer's eyes skim over your product because it's too familiar (wallaper), your product is forgotten and so is the associated revenue.

That doesn't make me like it, though. I hate having to take notes with me when I shop!

Posted by: Patti M. at February 26, 2009 7:33 PM

Oh yeah. One feminine product put different flowers on each box. Unfortunately the flowers are all the same color. I'm too ignorant about flowers to distinguish them by much besides their color. (Different shapes? I know only one shape: "Flower shape." I can draw only one "flower shape.") I had to write down the words on the box to be sure I got the right thing.

Posted by: Julie at February 26, 2009 8:54 PM

LOL, Julie, "flower shape." My company was like Lucky Charms -- flowers, moons, stars... then they chucked the whole thing and I have to look at EVERY SINGLE PACKAGE when I go in. Wings? No wings? Extra super ultra heavy flow? Night-time flow? Regular flow? Long? Medium? Short? UGGGGHHHH!

My favorite is what the diaper companies did, though. Around when K was a baby, they were all excited to be providing diapers "for girls" and "for boys," because apparently they wet in a different area. Then, a few years ago, I saw a company that was very excited to be offering unisex diapers!! Imagine!! LOL.

Posted by: Maggie at February 27, 2009 2:54 PM

I had the pleasure of the diaper-buying confusion a few months ago when I ran an errand for my sister. Some brands went by age, others went by pounds. Some of them had overlapping or conflicting weight classes. It's a good thing I had my cell phone with me. I was tempted to buy a package of cloth diapers.

Posted by: Julie at February 27, 2009 5:02 PM

Here's a question: Are there male adult diapers and female adult diapers? I am totally serious.

Posted by: Patti M. at February 28, 2009 8:58 AM

Of course. How else do they get baby diapers? It's the birds and the bees.

Posted by: James at February 28, 2009 9:15 AM

"A couple of points.

First, really?"

When I was reading the post, my first thought was "Really?" and then I scroll down and there you are saying it.

I am really bad with change, but this is ridiculous!

Posted by: BostonMaggie at March 4, 2009 8:07 PM

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