Tropicana Redux: 20% Sales Drop Gives New Meaning to Negative ROI

Well, it’s one thing to go out in the blogosphere and sound off on my personal opinion, even if it’s shared by so many. It’s quite another to see the actual impact on sales that Tropicana experienced after Arnell redesigned the pack. According to Ad Age, Tropicana’s sales dropped 20% in a 7 week period, when the category was essentially flat.

Anyone who questions the agony involved in tweaking a package design should take note.

A lot of people are comparing this to New Coke and I think that’s rubbish. New Coke was a new product introduction, not a package redesign. It involved a new formulation, a new name and a new package. Tropicana was ostensibly doing what CPG marketers do every day, namely, updating the pack.

I have also read comments that question whether market research was done at all or if it was badly flawed. My sources tell me that the research was done, it was done thoroughly, the design tested dismally, and the recommendation was not to adopt the new design. Whose ego overpowered the voice of the customer? Or were the research results “reinterpreted” in a different way prior to being presented to the client?

Some graphic designers consider package design to be a lesser art form. It may not be as glamorous as corporate identity, but it’s far more complex, much less theoretical and, in terms of generating true consumer response, it is where the rubber meets the road.

Tropicana will recover from this. It will be interesting to see if there are any consequences for those who recommended the wrong path.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Tropicana Redux: 20% Sales Drop Gives New Meaning to Negative ROI

  1. My sources tell me that the research was done, it was done thoroughly, the design tested dismally, and the recommendation was not to adopt the new design.

    This comment piques my curiousity. Can you share any more information about what happened?

    • carolparish

      Since I did not hear it directly, I can only say that a colleague whom I trust spoke to a market research professional who claimed to have done some of the research on the Tropicana pack design, and it was this person who said that it did not test well.

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