Tropicana and the power of listening

Posted by on Feb 26, 2009 | 0 comments

Tropicana and the power of listening

PepsiCo has been quite busy lately redesigning their logos, both for Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist, as well as Tropicana.
I don’t know if any of you have been following the story about how Tropicana orange juice redesigned all their packaging, and then retreated back to the successful and iconic “orange with a straw stuck in it” after a negative hue and cry from upset brand enthusiasts (otherwise known as consumers).

You can read the story here, but here is why it really resonated with me.

In the first place, I am one of those weirdos fascinated by packaging, the use and effect of color on our moods and decisions, as well as the science behind the engineering of consent. Secondly, it shows the power of consumers and their ability to (sometimes) effect change when they organize themselves both on and offline. Lastly, it has a happy ending  because the big company LISTENED and responded.

Now, I realize we’re just talking about orange juice here, but bear with me. I’m sure Tropicana spent a lot of money and time focus group-ing the logo changes and they got what they believed was actionable intelligence, as it were. But they may have underestimated that people can sometimes get really attached to a brand, sometimes in subconscious ways or ways that might not be revealed in a focus group setting. I know that I noticed the new Tropicana cartons in my supermarket and thought, “Hmmm, I wonder why they changed that? I loved the little orange with the straw.” At no time did I consider changing brands, but it did make me curious as to why, as George Carlin once observed, “They always change the stuff we like.” The other thing I noticed on the billboards around town was the heavy use of images of dads with small children. This piece of the campaign, evidently, will NOT be changing. “Hey,” I thought to myself,  “I’m a dad with small children and I like orange juice. Thumbs up!There don’t seem to be too many consumer products other than cologne, light beer or deli meats (three things I am not interested in) that overtly target us guys, so it definitely caught my attention.

In these turbulent economic times and diminishing brand loyalty, I think it says a lot about Pepsi/Tropicana that they honored the feedback. Much like the post I made recently about Intuit, it cannot hurt to listen and respond. The victory will be long.

UPDATE: This post caught the interest of the folks at Journalism.org, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. Who knew people could get so exorcised over OJ? Here’s the link.

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