Poor Shoppability Sinks Tropicana’s New Packaging

Tropicana unveiled new packaging in January in the US.

Why the about face? An apparently small but vocal group decried the new packaging. According to Neil Campbell, president of Tropicana North America, “We underestimated the deep emotional bond” their most loyal customers have with the brand. Really? Blogs, news, and Twitter reveal two other hypotheses.

First, the new packaging is just not shoppable. People have a hard time finding the brand, and when they do, they can’t differentiate among the varieties (no pulp, calcium, etc.). The words are small, and the color coding along the top edge can be hidden by the shelf above (see below).

Second, the new packaging “looks like a store brand”. Why is this a criticism, when these days private labels are seen as good values (Kirkland), good quality (365, Trader Joe’s), or even premium (Safeway O Organics)? Maybe a high-priced, market leading brand like Tropicana shouldn’t look like a private label–at least not yet.

Should Tropicana (or Arnell, who did the new design) have found a way to evolve the look rather than revolutionize it? Should they have resisted the outcry of the small, vocal minority? After all, they may alienate old customers, but could they gain a new generation of customers with the new look? At the least, they should have made the design more shoppable. Testing it in less-than-ideal environments (like the tightly spaced shelving above) might have helped.

They are keeping one change: the orange-shaped cap. Nice touch.

More of the story at the New York TImes. And watch Peter Arnell describe the rationale behind the new design at AdAge.