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Case Study: The $50M packaging mistake from Tropicana

Tropicana is one of the world's biggest producers of orange juice, with the most market share. So, how did they lose $50,000,000 in 2 months?
5 min read
12 September 2023
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Tropicana is a brand owned by PepsiCo that sells fruit juice to millions of people worldwide. In January 2009, together with the agency, Arnell redesigned the Tropicana packaging for the North American market. The consumers of the already-established Tropicana brand criticized this new packaging. Why? - Let's dig into it.

Summary of facts

  • On January 8th, 2009, Arnell and Tropicana launched the new packaging for their Pure Premium products.
  • Tropicana invested $35,000,000 in a campaign to help promote the new packaging.
  • Competitors to Tropicana took advantage of the packaging redesign failure, taking the sales and market share once owned by Tropicana.
  • On February 23rd, 2009, Tropicana announced it would return to its old packaging, which took a few months to put back into production.
150501 Tropicana packaging after

What went wrong with the packaging redesign?

Packaging design is a complex art with many elements comprising the final structure and artwork. There's plenty that can go wrong and not much room for error. In the example of Tropicana, there are a few fatal errors:

The images: One of the most significant errors on the packaging was the removal of the famous orange being punctured by the oversized straw. The orange image was the one thing that customers looked for on the saturated shelves in stores. Without that, people didn't recognise the products.

The lid: The orange image was moved from the primary carton to the lid. The idea is very creative and exciting and arguably ahead of its time in terms of engineering, as we can see that the cap has the shape and texture of half an orange that you can squeeze to obtain fresh orange juice. However, it just wasn't enough and still lacked the familiarity of the straw.

The logo: Arnell decided to revamp the logo to a more modern typeface. The logo was then rotated on the packaging to give the "100% Orange Pure and Natural" message priority in the hierarchy. Again, the old logo stood out amongst the crowded shelves.

Tropicana lid packaging1

What's the takeaway?

When redesigning packaging for an already established brand, data and insight must be the driving forces behind decision-making. The redesigned packaging lacked one central element: familiarity. If the agency and Tropicana had done real-world market and consumer research, they would have found the aspects that consumers look for in the packaging and could have carried these elements across more effectively.

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