Saturday, May 2, 2009

Pepsi Co in a marketing blunder that resembles 1985 New Coke Launch

PepsiCo, the American Beverage Giant, biggest rival of Coca Cola Co has actually fallen in the same trap as it's rival...however the product is a different one; this time it involves it's orange juice brand Tropicana.

Arnell Group had been assigned the job to redesign the package (carton) of the Tropicana Orange Juice. The launch of the new design took place in early January and according to according to AgencySpy. it has cost Pepsi Co about $35 million. The launch of the new redesigned container was far less than successful as Tropicana is set to abandon its trendy new orange juice carton and revert back to its traditional packaging, featuring the iconic orange with a straw in it.

The PepsiCo's Tropicana had to bow to public demand and scrap the changes made to its flagship product as consumers, especially those very loyal to the brand, complained about the makeover in letters, e-mail and calls made to the company's customer service and clamored for a return of the original look. Complaining customers called the new package as ugly and stupid as it resembles the package of a generic brand. In fact articles also report customers calling the company complaining that they couldn't find the product on supermarket's shelves. The new package (as can be seen below) is more simple and it has removed the iconic orange from the package and replaced it with orange juice. This has, according to some complaining customers removed the attachment to the claim that the juice is fresh. Being it's premium product, Pepsi has to intervene to limit the damage to it's brand!

This problem came about at the same time as the company (Tropicana) registered a decline of about 20% in sales in favour of competitors such as Minute Maid and other private labels.

This event has thought management of Tropicana that they have a very loyal customer base, who actually care about the product. Now with the advent of new technologies such as Twitter and mobile emailing it has made it much easier for the latter to voice their opinion and the company has to listen to its customers. One must remember that marketing is not about making products look better but meeting customer needs and demands; marketers must be good listeners. This event is very similar to that of Coca Cola's launch of New Coke in 1985 where Coca Cola had received an avalanche of complaints and they decided to recall New Coke and get back the original Coke version. Consumers were just attached to the brand as although in focus groups they liked the New Coke taste, they were not ready to give up the original Coke.

It's essential to identify all the elements that make customers loyal to the product and do extensive tests before risking damaging the brand...Pepsi Co will think it twice now before doing any further changes to any of their brands.

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