How Minute Maid’s Packaging Refresh can Avoid Tropicana’s Recent Fiasco.

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Despite this past year’s disastrous repackaging effort by Pepsico for its top-selling Tropicana juice brand, it appears that Coca-Cola is poised to intro its own repackaged juice brand: Minute Maid. Recent events might give some companies pause, but not the intrepid Coca-Cola. According to Coca-Cola, the refreshed packaging will enable the company to unify its many juice brands around the globe, including Minute Maid, Del Valle, Andina and Cappy. Makes sense.

While contemporizing packaging is routinely executed by consumer product companies, the end result is not always good.

Lest anyone forgot in the consumer-sphere, Tropicana rolled out its refreshed packaging this past winter to a chorus of “boos” from its customers. The new packaging totally disregarded Tropicana’s equitable brand assets. The “straw punctured orange” mnemonic device conveying “100 % real orange juice” totally disappeared.

The visual brand assets that distinguished Tropicana were traded for a generic, minimalistic, trendy package design. In barely over a month, Tropicana’s refreshed packaging was scrapped due to consumer discontent and lost sales; the traditional packaging was quickly reinstated.

But don’t just take that from me, according to a recent article in Advertising Age, “Coca-Cola Juices Get Ready for a New Look”, “Sales of the Tropicana Pure Premium line plummeted 20% between January 1 and February 22, costing the brand tens of millions of dollars”.  

The debacle saw double digit sales increases for Minute Maid during that same period. Was Coke’s brand the beneficiary of the Tropicana debacle? You bet it was.

Advertising Age subscribers can read the entire article here. A recap of the article is available for non-subscribers in the Atlanta Business Chronicle here.

For people who don’t realize just how important heritage packaging is to brands, and how packaging refreshes need to be done carefully while maintaining important brand equities, this case study should be an eye opener. 

No doubt Coca-Cola doesn’t intend to replicate the Tropicana miscue. According to Venkatesh Kini, VP of Marketing at the global juice center for Coca-Cola observed that his company “has been testing package designs with consumers for nearly two years, identifying those key equity items it shouldn’t change.”  

Guy Wollaert, general manager at the global juice center: “Based on the research we’ve done, we’re quite confident we’re on target. It’s been amazing, the consistency in the brand equity cues.” 

The new Minute Maid packaging features fruit fresh from the trees with a sliced piece resting on top of whole fruit. The brand identity is strong and dominant. Beneath that, a vertical swath of color with the fruit variety appears. At the bottom of the front panel, a green vertical bar states: “100% Pure Squeezed Orange Juice”.  

Putting the focus on the considerable equities of the Minute Maid brand and freshly squeezed 100% fruit should work for Coca-Cola. The new design has stronger shelf appeal while communicating the product’s key assets, as well as each variety, simply and cleanly.  

A collaborative effort between the company’s own in-house design staff and outside design consultancies helps ensure balance between brand equity maintenance and creative that contemporizes and stretches the brand. 

As ever, the consumer will vote on the new packaging with their wallets. 

Questions:

1. Have you ever been put off by refreshed packaging on a brand you like to buy? If so, which one?

2. Have you been more likely to purchase a specific brand because revitalized packaging attracted you and made it easier to shop the brand and find the right variety? If so, which one?

3. In general, which companies do you think do a good job communicating their brand’s assets to you via their packaging? Which leave something to be desired, in your view?

Ted Mininni is president of Design Force, Inc., the leading brand design consultancy to consumer product companies with Enjoyment Brands™. Design Force helps their clients market brands that deliver positive, gratifying experiences to consumers. Their expertise lies in emotionally connecting consumers to brands by creating compelling visual brand experiences, which motivate purchase decisions.