Tropicana: New Coke Redux

The recent failure of the re-designed Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice carton reminded me of the New Coke about-face.  I find it amusing that PepsiCo—the conglomerate that includes the Tropicana brand—did not learn from Coca-Cola’s mistakes.  Especially since each product is considered “The Real Thing” in their category.

Tropicana orange juice packaging

Both companies conducted research and claimed that the findings supported the change.  I imagine that as time goes by Tropicana will reveal, as Coca-Cola did, that there was a very vocal minority who felt angry and alienated. These “naysayers” who were the most loyal consumers were ignored.


Coca-Cola’s and now PepsiCo’s blunder was in failing to realize the immensity of their product’s legacy.  Changing Tropicana’s packaging, an American icon — even if the goal was “for the better” — tossed away hard-earned brand equity.  The recognizable symbols of the straw and orange that were meant to evoke fresh taste were replaced by a glass of orange juice to emphasize that the company wanted to sell juice rather than the fruit. Many shoppers including myself walked right by the cartons because it resembled a generic bargain brand or felt it was just “ugly”. Tropicana forgot Walter Landor’s famous proclamation: “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the minds.”


Within two months and $35M spent, Tropicana responded to consumers backlash by reverting back to the original packaging (the cool squeezable orange top was retained).  The President of Tropicana shared “I feel it’s the right thing to do, to innovate as a company. I wouldn’t want to stop innovating as a result of this. At the same time, if consumers are speaking, you have to listen.”


Yes innovate and re-design, but next time…heed their voices much earlier in the process.  And for now, reach out and engage those die-hard fans because you might learn a few more insights about your brand that you can act on today!


by Allan DeYoung